Office of the Chief Rabbi

D’var Torah: Parashat Vayeitzei

How is it possible for ‘seven years’ to be like ‘a few days’?

We are told how Yaakov worked for seven long years for the hand of Rachel in marriage. The Torah tells us Vayihiyu Be’einav Kayamim Achadim Be’Ahavato Otah, ‘they were for him in his eyes like but a few days on account of his deep love for her’.

What a romantic statement, what a great love story. But when you think of it, it actually doesn’t make sense. Surely, if he loved her so much, every day of waiting was like a week, every week like a month, a month like a year, a year like a millennium. What sense can we make of this?

‘Yaakov was not in this relationship in order to please himself, rather, he had a thrill in recognising the opportunity to give of himself to somebody else’

The Sforno explains as follows, the key term here Be’Ahavato Otah, on account of his love for her – and not for himself. Yaakov was not in this relationship in order to please himself, rather, he had a thrill in recognising the opportunity to give of himself to somebody else, to share his life with the inner beauty of Rachel, all of her great qualities, and to have that privilege, seven years of waiting were like but a few days.

The Sfat Emet gives a masterful Peirush. He says that the term Yamim Achadim, actually appears in last week’s Sedra. When Rivka instructed her son Yaakov to flee for his life from the intentions of his twin brother Eisav, she said Veyashavta Imo Yamin Achadim, go to Mesopotamia, live with my brother Lavan and dwell with him for but a few days.

Now, how can Rivka say that? Surely she understood that her wicked son Eisav was somebody, who, once he harboured that revenge, once he had hatred in his heart, that wouldn’t pass after a few days?

Rivka was aware of the significance of the term Echad in a Torah context, because as is the case in the Shema, it refers to the Achdut, the unity of God. Rivka was saying to her son Yaakov – you’re leaving home, you’re leaving the holy land, you’re going to be in an alien environment in the home of Lavan, let all your days be Yamim Achadim, days in which you remind yourself of the unity of Hashem.

Enable yourself to be inspired through the memories of your upbringing and through your spiritual connection to your roots. And then, Hashem was with him every step of the way.

‘Let all your days be Yamim Achadim, days in which you remind yourself of the unity of Hashem’

Let us therefore learn from our patriarch Yaakov. Similarly, on every day of our lives, to enable them to be Yamim Achadim, days which are infused with an awareness of the presence of God in our lives, through which we can have great meaning and wonderful experiences on each and every day.

Shabbat Shalom

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