Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the Chabad.org website. We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given. For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website. If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the Chabad.org website.
The Smallness of Jacob
Samuel, a Jerusalem lawyer, was on his way to court for an important trial and, sadly, got a late start to his morning. By the time he got to the courthouse, all the parking spots were taken. He drove around for five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen minutes, and no luck. Twenty minutes passed, and he began to get desperate. After thirty minutes of circling the parking lot and the adjacent neighborhoods in utter futility, the time for his court appearance fast approaching, he turns his head heavenward and shouts, "Master of the universe! I swear I will give 10 percent of my earnings to charity each year, pray three times a day, start a Torah study group in my home, I'll wait six hours between meat and dairy foods. Only just this: I need a place to park right now!"
Laban the Anti-Semite
"Go and learn what Laban the Aramean sought to do to our father Jacob. A Pharaoh made his decree only about the males whereas Laban sought to destroy everything." This passage from the Haggadah on Passover -- evidently based on this week's Torah portion -- is extraordinarily difficult to understand.
First, it is a commentary on the phrase in Deuteronomy, Arami oved avi. As the overwhelming majority of commentators point out, the meaning of this phrase is "my father was a wandering Aramean", a reference either to Jacob, who escaped to Aram [=Syria, a reference to Haran where Laban lived], or to Abraham, who left Aram in response to God's call to travel to the land of Canaan. It does not mean "an Aramean [=Laban] tried to destroy my father." Some commentators read it this way, but almost certainly they only do so because of this passage in the Haggadah.
A Double Gift
Isaac blesses his son Jacob: "... And may G-d give you of the dew of the heavens and of the fat of the earth..." The famed commentator Rashi explains the implication of the words "And may G-d give you": "The Al-mighty will give, and give again."
What was missing in G-d's initial giving, that could be perfected and completed by a second giving? Man is finite, limited; should he give even a magnificent and generous gift to another, it can still be improved upon by additional giving. But even the initial "gift" of the omnipotent and perfect Creator would be perfect. What could be added by "giving again"?
An analogy from the education of a pupil by his teacher might clarify the problem: