Parashat Vayetzei / פרשת ויצא

Lesson Summary

Parashat Vayetzei is the seventh weekly reading in the annual Torah reading cycle and the seventh reading of Bereshit (“Genesis”). Vayetzei (וַיֵּצֵא) is Hebrew for And He Left and is the first word of the parashah, which begins with Ya’akov’s (Jacob) departure from his family in Be’er Shava (Beersheva) and his journey toward Haran, to the family of his mother, Rivkah (Rebekah).

The parashah records the dream which Ya’akov had along the way, in which HaShem appeared to him and gave to him a variety of promises, for him and for his descendants. The parashah further records the vow which Ya’akov made in response, and the name he gave the place of his dream.

The parashah then describes the circumstances of Ya’akov’s first encounter with the family of his uncle Lavan (Laban), his mother’s brother, how Ya’akov came to dwell with and work for Lavan, and how he came to be betrothed to one of Lavan’s daughters, yet later to marry two. Ya’akov endures much hardship because of Lavan, yet HaShem blesses him greatly through all his trials.

Parashat Vayetzei records the thirteen children of Ya’akov, the circumstances of their birth, and how they came to be named. After fourteen years in his uncle’s service, Ya’akov wants to return to his family, but he agrees to remain with Lavan for another seven years. The parashah records the deal that is made by the two men through which HaShem blesses Ya’akov with great wealth in spite of Lavan’s dishonesty.

It is then that HaShem instructs Ya’akov to return to the land of his fathers, and the parashah records Ya’akov’s detailed assessment of his time working in the service of Lavan, which Ya’akov relates to his wives. His wives respond favorably to Ya’akov and the parashah records Ya’akov’s departure from Lavan without having first informed him, while Lavan is away sheering his sheep. A seven-day pursuit ensues, but HaShem intervenes to protect Ya’akov from his uncle.

The parashah records in detail the exchange which takes place when Lavan overtakes Ya’akov and his family. Ultimately, however, though the two men are greatly displeased with each other, a covenant of peace is made between them before they part ways. Parashat Vayetzei concludes with a record of the departure of Ya’akov and Lavan in their respective directions, and Ya’akov’s encounter with the malakhim (messengers/angels) of HaShem along the way.

Torah Portion: Genesis 28:10 – 32:3

1st Aliyah: Genesis 28:10-22 (13 verses)
2nd Aliyah: Genesis 29:1-17 (17 verses)
3rd Aliyah: Genesis 29:18-30:13 (31 verses)
4th Aliyah: Genesis 30:14-27 (14 verses)
5th Aliyah: Genesis 30:28-31:16 (32 verses)
6th Aliyah: Genesis 31:17-42 (26 verses)
7th Aliyah: Genesis 31:43-32:3 (15 verses)
Maftir: Genesis 32:1-3 (3 verses)

Reading from the Nevi’im (Prophets):

Traditional Ashkenazi Haftarah: Hosea 12:13 – 14:10
Traditional Sephardic Haftarah: Hosea 11:7 – 1