It’s Never Enough by Craig Yagoda

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From the beginning of Parshat Toldot, the Torah presents Yaakov as a person immersed in Torah learning, as the Pasuk says, ויעקב איש תם יושב אהלים.  Unlike Esav, who was out in the fields hunting, Yaakov would remain in his tent studying Torah.  However, as Yaakov got older, he was presented with challenges that force him to leave his tent of Torah and Kedusha and involve himself with people who had not reached his same level of spirituality .  In fact, as Parshat Vayetzei begins, Yaakov embarks on a journey to Charan, which ultimately turns into a twenty-year exile in the house of Lavan.

At the end of Parshat Toldot, Rashi quotes the Midrash that says that Yaakov spent fourteen years learning in the house of Ever before going on this journey.  Because Yaakov had been learning since he was young, it was clear that he had already amassed a significant amount of Torah knowledge.  Why, then, did he spend these fourteen years learning before his journey?

One can suggest that Yaakov knew he was entering a new stage of his life.  Yaakov understood that he would not be able to remain secluded in his tent constantly involved with Torah throughout his life.  Realizing that this may be his last opportunity to engage in serious Torah learning as he had been doing his entire life, Yaakov took some time to learn in the house of Shem.  Although he had already accrued a tremendous amount of Torah knowledge, Yaakov was striving to continue to grow, and therefore he seized every opportunity he had to learn Torah. 

We can learn an important lesson from Yaakov.  If Yaakov Avinu, after learning for 63 years of his life, was unsatisfied with the amount of Torah that he had acquired, we should never feel content with the little Torah that we have learned.

 

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