The JPS Rashi Discussion Torah Commentary

By Steven; Sarah Levy | Go to book overview

VA-YETSE’

❖ Making a Difference
In last week’s parashah Esau vowed to kill his brother Jacob, who had taken the paternal blessing intended for Esau, the firstborn. The opening verse of Parashat Va-yetse’ records Jacob’s flight from Beer-sheba to escape his vengeful brother.

Jacob left Beer-sheba, and set out for Haran. (Gen. 28:10)

Since we already know that Jacob lived in Beer-sheba, why does the verse state that he left Beer-sheba rather than simply state that he went to Haran? Rashi explains:

Jacob left Beer- sheba: The Torah had only to write: “And Ja-
cob set out for Haran.” Why did it mention his departure?
Rather this tells [us] that the departure of a righteous man
from a place makes an impression, for while the righteous
man is in the city, he is its beauty, he is its splendor, he is
its majesty. When he departs from there, its beauty has de-
parted, its splendor has departed, its majesty has departed.
(Rashi, Gen. 28:10)

As Rashi explains, Jacob’s departure from Beer-sheba is mentioned to inform us of the tremendous void that his departure left in the city. Jacob’s presence conferred glory and splendor on the city—a fact that was apparent to all once he had left.Later in the Torah it is Jacob’s son Joseph who, by example, demonstrated the positive impact a single individual can have on his environment. Anticipating the famine that was to afflict Egypt, Joseph orchestrated elaborate preparations by which Egypt was able to survive the ensuing devastation. During the famine, transcending his brothers’ ill-treatment of him as a child, Joseph brought his extended family to Egypt to assure their well-being. They, in turn, developed into the Jewish people.As with Jacob’s departure from Beer-sheba, Joseph’s departure from Egypt (as a result of his death) also had negative consequences—in this case for the Jewish people, who were then enslaved by the Egyptians.
Questions for Discussion
1. Describe a person who has had a positive impact on your city or community. What personal qualities do you think enabled him or her to have such an impact?
2. Name someone who has had a lasting, positive influence on society. To what extent was this person’s legacy a function of personal character and to what extent a function of circumstances?
3. Describe something you have done (or have considered doing) that has benefited (or could benefit) your community or others around you.

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The JPS Rashi Discussion Torah Commentary
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xiii
  • Introduction - Introducing Rashi xv
  • Genesis 1
  • Bere’shit 3
  • NoaḤ 6
  • Lekh Lekha 9
  • Va-Yera’ 12
  • Hayyei Sarah 15
  • Toledot 18
  • Va-Yetse’ 21
  • Va-YishlaḤ 24
  • Va-Yeshev 27
  • Mikkets 30
  • Va-Yiggash 33
  • Va-YeḤi 36
  • Exodus 39
  • Shemot 41
  • Val-‘Era’ 44
  • Bo’ 47
  • Be-ShallaḤ 50
  • Yitro 53
  • Mishpatim 56
  • Terumah 59
  • Tetsavveh 62
  • Ki Tissa’ 65
  • Va-Yak’Hel 68
  • Pekudei 71
  • Leviticus 75
  • Va-Yikra’ 77
  • Tsav 80
  • Shemini 83
  • Tazria’ 86
  • Metsora’ 90
  • ’AḤarei Mot 93
  • Kedoshim 97
  • ‘Emor 100
  • Be-Har 103
  • Be-Ḥukkotai 106
  • Numbers 111
  • Be-Midbar 113
  • Naso’ 116
  • Be-Ha’Alotekha 120
  • ShelaḤ-Lekha 123
  • KoraḤ 127
  • Ḥukkat 130
  • Balak 134
  • PinḤas 138
  • Mattot 141
  • Mase’Ei 144
  • Deuteronomy 147
  • Devarim 149
  • Va-EtḤannan 152
  • ‘Ekev 156
  • Re’Eh 160
  • Shofetim 163
  • Ki Tetse’ 167
  • Ki Tavo’ 171
  • Nits Avim/Va-Yelekh 174
  • Ha’Azinu 177
  • Ve-Zo’t Ha-Berakhah 181
  • Subject Index 185
  • Index of Sources 189
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