Sharing Torah Insights

Vayeitze- Brotherly Love

Posted on ו׳ בכסלו ה׳תשע״ב (December 2, 2011) | in Uncategorized, VaYetzei | by

1 Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples. 2 There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. 3 When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well. Jacob asked the shepherds, “My brothers, where are you from?” “We’re from Harran,” they replied. He said to them, “Do you know Laban, Nahor’s grandson?” “Yes, we know him,” they answered. Then Jacob asked them, “Is he well?”“Yes, he is,” they said, “and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.” “Look,” he said, “the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture.”“We can’t,” they replied, “until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.”

Yaakov meets the shepards and sees that they are not doing anything- they claim they are waiting for the rock to be rolled off to get to the water for the sheep.

One might ask, Yaakov is a stranger that just came to town and after some pleasantries he starts questioning the locals’ work habits, by saying- it is the middle of the day, why aren’t you giving the sheep water?! Why are you sitting around doing nothing? Furthermore, the locals surprisingly do not snap back at Yaakov- who are you?! Who do you think you are telling us how to do our work? Rather, they simply responded, we cannot, because of the big rock. They seemingly showed a respect for this newcomer. How was this accomplished by Yaakov?

[Parenthetically, one may ask a few questions about this rock: why today was different than any other day; did they always put the rock on and if so, how did they put it on but not be able to take it off, etc.]

The Ponovezher Rav (Rav Khaneman) quoted by the Yagdil Torah answers that Yaakov’s motivational secret was one simple word. When he met the locals he called them “My brothers” (where are you from). He showed that he felt a strong bond towards them, even though they had never met before.

The lesson is simply that when it comes to reprimanding or critiquing others, we may only be effective when first showing a care and genuine concern for the other person. Only then can we hope to connect to that person and have our suggestions carry some bearing.

Good Shabbos


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