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Vayeitzei: Pausing in the Pandemonium


There are many ways to learn and gain inspiration from the Torah text, and assessing the structure and textual architecture of the Parshios is one means of deriving further meaning and insight from the Torah itself. Parshas Vayeitzei has a unique structure in that while most Parshios contain breaks or pauses and are divided into paragraphs (the literal translation of “parshios”), Vayeitzei does not contain any of these breaks. R’ Immanuel Bernstein cites an incredible idea from R’ Chaim Shmuelevitz to shed light on the significance of this Parsha’s unique textual structure. He notes that as Yaakov sets out from his parents’ home, he also embarks on a journey of many decades of running to and fro, toward Lavan and away from Eisav, and then away from Lavan and toward Eisav again. This Parsha marks the start of Yaakov’s own exile, characterized by chaos, fear, crisis, a whirlwind of running and chasing with barely a moment to sit back and take in what is happening to and around him. This first journey of Yaakov’s is one of many moments in his life that depict him as the paradigm of Judaism, illustrating how and why it is Yaakov whose name (Israel) our nation bears. Yaakov exemplified for all of his descendants what it m