10 Nov VAYEITZEI: BUILDING A HOME
Parashat Vayetzeh begins with Yaakov Avinu’s journey from the Land of Israel to Haran, where he was to get married and build a family. The Torah tells us that as Yaakov prepared to sleep when the sun set during his journey, he took some stones and placed them around him. Rashi explains that this was done in order to protect himself from wild animals.
Yaakov Avinu must have done many things over the course of his life for the sake of protecting himself. Why are these rocks worthy of being mentioned? Is this really that significant?
A famous Midrash tells that during the night, as Yaakov slept, the rocks fought with one another, each wanting Yaakov’s head to rest on it. Hashem intervened by miraculously merging the stones into a single stone.
What does this mean? Did the rocks really have a fight?
Yaakov Avinu was on a mission – to build a family, to produce the twelve tribes that would make up the Jewish Nation. He knew that this nation would have many enemies, that there would always be hostile people trying to destroy it, and so the nation would need protection. According to tradition, Yaakov took twelve stones – foreseeing his twelve children – and these stones blended together to symbolize the formation of a single unit, a single entity. Our Rabbis teach us that this took place at the future site of the Bet Ha’mikdash – the place where all the different tribes would assemble together as one unit. This is our protection from all the hostile forces that are out to get us – all the different “tribes” of the Jewish Nation coming together.
This is true not only of the Jewish Nation as a whole, but of each and every Jewish family.
A family consists of different “stones,” different individuals, who must come together in peace and harmony to create a strong, stable home, capable of withstanding the many challenges that life presents. Every couple that gets married sets out on this mission – to build a cohesive home, with its own unique identity and character, and this is what protects them.
But in order for this to work, the family needs to be independent.
Sometimes, the parents of a young couple can get in the way of this process, by trying to dictate what they do, and by getting too involved in their lives. In a sense, this is understandable. After all, the parents have much more experience, they know how many mistakes can be made, and they desperately want to help their children avoid those mistakes. Also, after spending an incalculable amount of time and money on raising the child and making a wedding, they feel slighted if the married child just says “good bye” and walks out the door. They feel they should have a say.
But while this is understandable, a delicate balance needs to be maintained. In order to erect their “stones” and create a strong, cohesive family unit, the couple needs the space and the freedom to build their home in the way they see fit. Of course, they must respect their parents and stay closely connected to them. But they also need their independence.
Parashat Vayetzeh ends with Yaakov and his family leaving the home of his father-in-law, Lavan, and returning home to the Land of Israel. The Torah tells, בקעיו†וכרדל†ךלה†– “Yaakov went along his path.” Once he left his father-in-law’s home, he was able to chart his own path, the course that he was meant to follow, and create a beautiful family.
This is something that all parents should wish for their married children – that they follow the path that is right for them, making their own decisions and charting their own course, building their own beautiful, happy home, and forming a new, special link in the glorious chain of Jewish tradition.