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    Why go home? – Vayyetzei

    Jacob & his family leave Haran, by Charles Foster, 1897

    Jacob is told by God to make his way back home (Gen. 31:7).

    He tells his wives that he and they are going, but he first gives a different explanation: “Though I have served your father with all my energy, he has constantly deceived me”.

    Only after this statement does he say anything about God speaking to him and commanding him to return to Canaan.

    Why Jacob resorts to this roundabout approach needs to be examined, all the more so since he himself is a pious man who would obey HaShem regardless of any material considerations.

    However, Rachel and Leah probably need the extra reason for leaving their father’s house.

    They know what sort of person their father is, but they still hope that if they stay nearby and remain loyal to him, they will one day inherit some of his estate.

    Jacob is hinting to them not to rely on this hope. Laban can swindle them too. They have to realise that he cannot be trusted. They have to go to Canaan, not only because God said so, but also because it is in their own best interests.

    As usual the Torah has a message for all ages and generations when it records this discussion.

    Human beings often store up hopes that may in the end prove quite illusory.

    If God and one’s conscience tell us to move on we must not let ourselves be held back by dreams of gaining an inheritance or winning the lottery.

    The dreams can blow up in our faces and we will be left feeling sorry for ourselves for the rest of our lives.

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