Simcha's Torah Stories - Vayishlach

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Parshat Vayishlach

OVERCOME THE SURROUNDINGS

Leah, have you done your homework yet?

Not yet, Mommy.

Why not, Leah dear?

Because there is too much commotion in the house Mommy. Rivka's friend is here, the baby is crying, and Chani is practicing the piano. Who can do homework in this tumult?

I see your point, Leah. Let me tell you something that we learned about Jewish Law in our halacha class last night.

I am always interested in learning Torah, Mommy.

There are two types of situations in halacha (Jewish Law). "Li-chat-cheela" describes the ideal situation. "Bi-dee-eved" is a less-than-ideal situation. Under the less-than-ideal circumstances, the person is not always expected to fulfill all of the conditions of the halacha to the same degree as in the ideal situation. Now, Leah dear, would you call the situation in the house today "li-chat-cheela" (ideal) or "bi-dee-eved" (less-than-ideal) for doing homework.

That's an easy question to answer Mommy. It was "bi-dee-eved" in the house today. That's why I could not do my homework.

Hmmm. Let me tell you a story Leah, dear, about someone who was in a "bi-dee-eved" situation. You will see what he accomplished. Yaakov Avinu, our father Yaakov left his home to go live with his uncle, Lavan. He stayed with Lavan for twenty years. During that time he married, raised a family, and worked for Lavan as a shepherd. Let me tell you something about Lavan.

I already know, Mommy! We talk about him during the Pesach Seder. He is in the Hagaddah.

Very good Leah! What do we say about Lavan?

We say that he was worse than Pharaoh was. Pharaoh only wanted to destroy the Jewish men, but Lavan wanted to destroy us all.

Excellent Leah! I see that you know how badly Lavan treated Yaakov. Now, let me ask you something. Would you call Yaakov's situation in Lavan's house "li-chat-cheela" or "bi-dee-eved"?

That's an easy question, Mommy. The conditions were terrible. That is surely "bi-dee-eved".

Very good, Leah dear. In such a "bi-dee-eved94" situation, how would you expect someone to react? How would he observe mitzvos? Could he be expected to fulfill mitzvos as well as if he were in a good situation?

Surely not, Mommy. Not under those circumstances.

Very good, Leah. Now, look in the Book of Bereshis, chapter 32, verse five and Rashi's commentary and tell me if you can see how Yaakov performed mitzvos in Lavan's house.

Hmmm. Let's see. Oh! I found it!

Great Leah! What does it say?

The verse says, "I lived with Lavan". Rashi explains that the word "lived" in Hebrew ("garti") has the same gematria (numerical value) as the word "taryag". "Taryag" is the word used to describe the 613 mitzvos of the Torah. Yaakov is telling us that although he lived with Lavan he still observed 613 mitzvos and did not learn from Lavan's evil deeds.

Excellent Leah! Do you see what Yaakov Avinu accomplished? He was in a very difficult situation and still managed to perform all of the 613 mitzvos. That should be an inspiration to all of us.

It surely helps me Mommy. If Yaakov Avinu could observe the mitzvos for twenty years in Lavan's house, I can surely do my homework in our home.

Very good, Leah. Daddy and I try to give you a good environment that helps you learn. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we don't. When the home is a bit topsy-turvy, you have to try extra hard. That is the time to be like Yaakov Avinu. Put in that extra effort to do the right thing.

Mommy, I am going to try to be like Yaakov and do well no matter what.

Leah, you're wonderful.


Simcha's Quiz

A man decides to buy a nice horse. He pays $60 for it, and he is very content with this strong animal. After a year, the value of the horse has increased to $70 and he decides to sell the horse. A few days later he regrets his decision to sell the beautiful horse, and he buys it again. Unfortunately he has to pay $80 to get it back, so he loses $10. After another year of owning the horse, he finally decides to sell the horse for $90.

What is the overall profit the man makes?


Answer to Last Week's Question

Question:

What is the closest relation that your father's sister's sister-in-law could be to you?

The Answer!

YOUR MOTHER


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