Parshas Vayeitze.




In this Parsha we read a detailed account of how Yaakov worked for Lavan in return for a payment of certain kinds of sheep and goats. The exact types of animals are described (31:10) as Akudim, Nekudim and Berudim (ringed, spotted and flecked)[1], as well as the ways Yaakov used to prepare some of the flocks for himself. It even mentions Yaakov’s vision of an angel (31:11) in which the separation of the flocks is seen. What is the need for the Torah to spend so much time on these descriptions, while many important laws are often only hinted to with just one extra letter?




It is known in the Zohar and other Kabalistic writings that often the most unassuming passages of Torah actually contain the deepest hints. In fact, the more simple and uninformative the passage seems to be, the more likely it is to contain profound Sodos - secrets of Kabala[2]. The Zohar states (3:149b) “Woe is to the one who thinks that the Torah is just telling us stories … Even for an earthly king it’s not honorable to tell meaningless stories, how much more so to write them down. Certainly even more so, when the King of kings, Hashem would just collect various tales like the account of Hagar, of Lavan with Yaakov, of the Bilaam’s donkey, of Bilaam and Balak and of Zimri. If this is what Torah is why is it called the Torah of Truth, whose words are more desirable than precious gold?  Rather the Holy Torah is infinitely deep, all of its stories contain hints, allusions, and profound inner meaning …[3]


One of the most known examples is the description (in the next Parsha) of the “eight kings of Edom” that had ruled before there was a king to the Jewish people. The Zohar (3:128) expounds on this in one of its’ central places called Idra Raba, where Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai assembled his students and taught them deep mysteries of creation. The Zohar starts there by saying: “This seems to be a difficult passage that the Torah should not have written. There were many different kings before the Jewish people, and there were more kings before there was the first king of the Jewish people. What is this description doing here?” The Zohar goes on to expound on the primeval creation of spiritual worlds, and in particular eight original Sefiros seven of which could not contain the light given to them and they “broke” (i.e. died). The names of kings and that of their fathers as well as their places of birth all of a sudden gain tremendous significance. They are hints to the early creations which later led to the creation of the lower worlds and to our world today. In the case of the first, the fourth, and the last kings, the city where they ruled is mentioned. The Torah also mentions the wife of the last king, but it does not mention his death. Each of these pieces of information is extremely important, once one knows what they hint to, while it carries no significance to the one who is not involved.


Similarly, in this Parsha, the details of Yaakov’s pasturing of Lavan’s sheep form the nucleus of many Kabalistic writings. For example, in the main work based on Arizal – “Etz Chaim”, one of 50 Shaarim (gates) is devoted to the world of “Akudim” (ringed)[4]. Describing the details of what is involved in this episode goes far beyond the scope of this work. However, we will give a brief explanation of one of the aspects of Yaakov’s pasturing and separating certain animals from Lavan’s flock (for further details, see Rav Yitzchak Aizek Chaver in Pischei Shaarim, Netiv Partzufei Leah VeRachel, 6; Beis Olamim commentary to Idra Raba to pages 129 and 134-136)[5].


It is known in Kabalistic writings[6] that Adam’s soul in a way included all the souls of people, and after his sin, many different souls descended into Klipos (unclean spiritual worlds). For the time being[7] Hashem made a system of spiritual equilibrium between the “Good” and the “Evil”[8]. This is generally compared to a strong warrior fighting against a weak one, while using only a part of his strength, in order for the battle to be fair. The key element in this war is the human being. This is the creature that can tip the scales in either direction[9]. Meanwhile, the “Evil” is allowed to act as a prosecutor, to “demand” retribution[10], or to claim “lack of fairness”. In particular, each time a great soul is released from the worlds of “Sitra Achara”, the Satan is given permission to “speak up” and make demands.


Obviously, the greatest rectification in history started when the soul of Avraham[11] was sent to this world. Indeed, the Satan claimed that such a person will throw the scales off balance. As such, he demanded that this soul will only be released to a family of idol manufacturer – Terach. Moreover, only when Terach was having relations with his wife (Amtelai Bas Karnevo) during her menstrual period, did the Satan agree to let go the soul of Avraham. He was hoping that being born under such conditions and in such a family, Avraham will fail his task, and indeed his soul will descend even lower, thus giving the spiritual energy to Klipos. However, the Satan was wrong. Avraham not only rose above his predisposition, but even rectified his father[12]. Terach’s third gilgul was Iyov, who was now suffering for his sins from before[13] (all of this is taken from Kisvei Arizal, Shaar Hapsukim, beginning of Sefer Iyov).  


Once Avraham started changing the world, his unique family had to select the other souls trapped in the Klipos. This was the Sod of pasturing the flocks. Lavan represented the unclean worlds and Yaakov was trying to choose out the good souls trapped there. First Yaakov took out Leah and Rachel and then he started working on the future Jewish souls. All the details described in our Parsha are hinting both to the rectifications of the Olamos (worlds) and that of Neshamos (souls), (see Rav Yitzchak Aizek Chaver in Pischai Shaarim, Netiv Partzufei Leah VeRachel, 6; Beis Olamim to pages 129 and 134-136). This also explains the reasons why Yaakov had to act slyly again, (see our commentary to Parshas Toldos). The only way to be successful against the Sitra Achara is to use its’ own methods of cunning (see Rav Yitzchak Aizek Chaver in Beis Olamim, page 129), as it says (Shmuel 2:22:27): “… with the perverse, you should be cunning”.


As we mentioned above, it would be far too complicated to describe the details of these hints; we just tried to give the reader an idea of what is involved. We will just finish by quoting the end of the words of Rav Yitzchak Aizek Chaver in Beis Olamim, page 129): “You now see the depth of our Holy Torah and the wonderful things hinted here regarding the sheep and the rods. At first glance they look as unimportant things but in truth they hint the depth of the war between the Kedusha and the Sitra Achara.” May we soon merit that all the needed rectifications will be finished, all the souls that need to come down[14] will finish their work, and we will then merit the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our days!



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[1] In a different verse (30:39) they are described as Akudim, Nekudim and Teluim (ringed, spotted and streaked). 


[2] Like in the famous parable of the Chida: the king wanted to bring precious diamonds from one place to another and hid them under mud and dirt, so as not to attract robbers. So too, the Creator hid the deep secrets under the most uninteresting stories, this way hiding the secrets from the undeserving, (see the GR”A on Zohar 254b)


[3] With the recent discovery of Torah codes, based on the findings of Rabbeinu Weissmandel, we can see at least one way in which the Torah predicts and accounts for all lives for all generations, (see GR”A on fifth chapter of Sifra Detzniusa).

[4] see also Rav Yitzchak Aizek Chaver in Pischai Shaarim, Netiv Shbiras Hakeilim, 7.


[5] See also Harav Menachem Mendel of Shklov, Biurim to Mishnas Chasidim, page 108; Aravey Nachal, Parshas Nitzavim; Agra Dekola, pages 138a and 141a; Meor Einaim, Parshas Vaetze; Kol Mevaser on this Parsha; Ohr Hachaim Hakodesh 28:5.


[6] See for instance Arizal, Shaar Hagilgulim, the third introduction and Shaar Hapesukim, Bereyshis, based on Midrash (Shemos Raba 40:3 and Tanchuma Ki Sisa 12).


[7] i.e. for six thousand years prepared for our choices and rectifications.


[8] This is hinted in a verse in Ecclesiastes (7:14). 


[9] See Talmud, Kidushin 40b; Ramabam, Laws of Repentance (3:4)


[10] See the book of Iyov, chapter 1.


[11] Our sages (Bereishis Raba 12:9) teach (Bereishis 2:4) “Behibaram” (when created) is the same letters as “Beavraham” – for the sake of Avraham, the world was created.

[12] See Rashi on Bereishis 15:15 quoting Midrashim of our sages.


[13] See also Ramban on Iyov 33:19. Note, that in Parshas Lech Lecha we described the cause of Iyov’s suffering for he kept quite when Bilaam suggested oppressing the Jewish people. However, for that alone he would not have gotten such a terrible punishment. This is one of the ways of Divine Hanhaga – for minor sins in this gilgul, one brings a punishment which then includes the retribution for the major sins in the previous gilgulim. This is hinted in the verse (Daniel 9:16) “For [we are suffering] because of our chataeinu (minor sins) and the avonos (major sins) of our fathers (meaning ourselves in the previous gilgulim”.


[14] See Talmud, Yevamos  63b.