Off Those Laurels! by Rabbi Steven Finkelstein


At the very end of this week’s Parashah, the Torah states “VaYashav Lavan LiMekomo. VeYa’akov Halach LeDarko, VaYifge’u Vo Mal’achei Elokim,” “And Lavan returned to his place. And Ya’akov went on his way, and angels of Hashem approached him” (32:1-2). The Meshech Chochmah comments that the Torah is calling our attention to a major difference between Lavan and Ya’akov. After all of the years that Lavan spent with Ya’akov the Tzadik, he was totally unchanged. “He retu  rned to his place.” Lavan went right back to his former level of corruption and deceit. He had not allowed Ya’akov’s character to affect or inspire him at all.

Ya’akov, on the other hand, “went on his way.” Tzadikim are never complacent with their achievements but rather are always looking for the next opportunity for growth. When one actively seeks out positive experiences, he finds them and can use them as opportunities for growth and personal development. In Ya’akov’s case, he went and encountered Mal’achei Hashem.

As we go through life, we are faced with a defining choice. Are we looking at life from the perspective of Ya’akov or Lavan? Are we set in our ways? Are we satisfied with our level of observance and our relationship with Hashem, or are we on a path of spiritual growth?

As Shlomo HaMelech expresses in Kohelet, “BaBoker Zera Et Zar’echa, VeLaErev Al Tanach Yadecha,” “In the morning, sow your seed, and in the evening do not rest your hand” (11:6). We cannot rest on our previous accomplishments; rather, we must constantly keep seeking new opportunities. We must incorporate the understanding that each day, each encounter, each class and lecture contains within it the opportunity for us to be inspired and  motivated to achieve even loftier heights.

A Life of Deceit by Yehuda Koslowe

Boundless Berachot by Eitan Leff