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http://JewishHistory.org Jacob escapes the wrath of his brother Esau, who is naturally very disturbed that Jacob obtained the birthright, even though Jacob is entitled to it.

We all know that there is no fight like a family fight, and there’s no family fight like a fight over inheritance. There is something within us that demands our right at all costs. Therefore- Esau sets out to kill his brother, even though history has taught us that in general this type of violence solves nothing (though completely wiping out an evil enemy can be effective).

Jacob flees to the home of his uncle Lavan. Lavan is the arch-criminal in the world because he doesn’t behave as such, rather he’s a con-man, a cheater. Jacob has no choice and goes to Lavan poverty stricken. He falls in love with Lavan’s daughter Rachel and arranges to work for her hand in marriage in exchange for 7 years of work.

Lavan switches the arrangement the night of the wedding and does so with the appearance of legitimacy, claiming that the older daughter Leah must be married first since it’s the custom of the place.

Judaism warns us greatly about this- coating illegitimacy with legalities, with the veneer of being legitimate when it really is not. Psalms tell us that law can create evil, but the father of this concept is Lavan.

Jacob marries Leah, followed by 7 more years of work for Rachel, and then marries Bilhah and Zilpah. They have 12 male children and a daughter (Dinah). Jacob becomes wealthy in the house of Lavan, and helps Lavan become extraordinarily wealthy as well.

Despite his own success, Lavan is bothered by Jacob’s prosperity. Judaism teaches we must learn to be happy and satisfied with what we have, immaterial to what others have in comparison.

Taught by Rabbi Berel Wein – http://jewishhistory.org

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