Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dramatic Lessons

Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

The drama that takes place between Yehuda and Tamar in Parshas Vayeishev carries timeless lessons that, were we to actually absorb them, would transform our dealings with our fellow Jews.

Like all the sipurei Tanach, this drama was not intended for our entertainment, but to spur us to study and grow. The story of Yehuda and Tamar is a paradigm of narratives in Tanach about our forbears that are intended to demonstrate the high level of moral conduct expected of a Jew.

Tamar came close to being burned alive and was spared only when Yehuda admitted, “Tzadkah mimeni.” With the help of Rashi, who draws on the teachings of Chazal, we discover that Tamar was prepared to remain silent rather than embarrass Yehuda, even to the point of taking her secret to the grave. We begin to understand why the story was recorded for posterity, and how it speaks to us in our own day and age.

Rashi points out that this story is the source for the Gemorah in Sotah (10b) and Bava Metziah (59a), which teach that it is better for a person to throw himself into a burning furnace than to cause public embarrassment to a fellow Jew.

When we learn that Rashi, we recognize the value of the lesson that it’s not nice to embarrass other people. We think, “Okay. I’ll be more careful next time. When the opportunity arises, I will try not to embarrass anyone.” And then we go on to the next story and the next Rashi.

Shouldn’t we pause for a moment and try to absorb what the Torah is telling us? That a person is better off jumping into a burning fire than causing someone else embarrassment? It’s an amazing concept when you think about it. This is not a metaphor; it’s meant to be taken literally.

If we took it seriously, we would be so much more careful about our interactions with other people. How many times do we poke fun at other people to display our genius? How often are we guilty of turning someone else into the target of our brilliant wit? Yet, here the posuk teaches us that such conduct is reprehensible - so much so that a person should be prepared to end his life rather than bring shame to someone else.

Apparently, we don’t come close to grasping the extent of this teaching.

Tosafos in Sotah asks that if a person is required to jump into fire rather than humiliate someone, then it follows that publicly humiliating another person is on par with the three cardinal sins that a Jew must avoid even at the cost of his life- yayhoraig v’al yaavor. Why, then, is this commandment not listed with the others?

Tosafos answers that halbonas ponim, shaming someone publicly, is not included with the cardinal sins of avodah zorah, gilui arayos and shefichas domim, because those three are explicit commandments in the Torah and halbonas ponim is not.

Tosafos takes the Gemorah literally and rules that publicly humiliating someone is as severe as killing the person.

Rabbeinu Yonah holds like Tosafos, while other Rishonim, such as the Me’iri in Brachos (43a), Sotah (10a), and Kesubos (77b) differ. Their position is that the Gemorah’s intention is to underscore the seriousness of halbonas ponim, while not attaching the same severity to it as to the three cardinal sins.

With regard to publicly shaming a fellow Jew, the Gemorah in Bava Metziah (58b) says that one who is malbin pnei chaveiro berabim, as well as one who is mechaneh sheim lechaveiro - someone who calls his fellow by an embarrassing nickname, are both punished with Gehennom and a loss of his share in the World to Come, Olam Habah.

The Gemorah asks that if calling someone by a nickname he dislikes and embarrassing someone seem to be the same crime, why does the Gemorah list them individually as two separate aveiros?

The Gemorah answers that the case of mechaneh sheim refers to an instance when the fellow is accustomed to being called by that name. Rashi explains that even in the case, when the person has become immune to the mocking name, if the one using it on his fellow Jew intended to embarrass him, the action still falls under the rubric of mechaneh sheim lechaveiro and he is punished for the act.

The Maharasha points out a difficulty with Rashi’s explanation of the Gemorah. If the person is not embarrassed and not pained by the nickname, why should the person who used it be punished so severely?

Several years ago, I wrote on this topic and quoted an answer to this question from my son Yitzchok Elchonon.

He referenced the Rambam in Pirush HaMishnayos on Perek Cheilek in Sanhedrin, (D”H Veatah). The Rambam states there that the sins of malbin pnei chaveiro, mechaneh sheim lechaveiro and miskabeid bekalon chaveiro - reveling in someone’s disgrace, though they may appear to be minor crimes, are symptomatic of a defective soul. Such a soul lacks sheleimus and is not worthy of Olam Habah.

In other words, the reason a person who humiliates others has no share in Olam Habah and is sentenced to Gehennom is not merely a punishment for his cruelty to his fellow man. Rather, through his attempted belittlement of his fellow man, he reveals his own degenerate character, and as such is not worthy of a share in the World to Come.

The Gemorah in Bava Metziah is teaching a profound thought. If one addresses or refers to someone in a way intended to humiliate or degrade him, even if the person is hardened to the ridicule and no longer feels pained by it, the offender has exposed a source of corruption in his soul that forfeits him his share in Olam Habah.

With this in mind, perhaps we can understand the p’sak of the Rambam that there is a prohibition to be malbin pnei koton, embarrass a minor. Even though the target of your ridicule is but a child, the fact that you derive pleasure from mocking him indicates a flaw in your soul.

Often, we find ourselves speaking to and about people in a derogatory manner which causes them pain and public humiliation, without giving it a second thought. We say things to be cute and sound smart, and someone else pays the price for our self-promoting behavior. We think we are scoring points with our great wit, but what we are really doing is displaying for all to see that we have a defect in our own souls.

We now understand Rashi differently. We know now that Rashi is not speaking allegorically when he says that it is preferable to throw oneself into a fire than to make fun of someone, but is quoting a Gemorah. Rashi was not exaggerating the severity of causing someone else pain in order to motivate people to take heed. He was conveying the reality of how harshly the act of halbonas ponim is viewed by the Torah. Halbanos ponim is literally on par with retzichah.

To consider another’s feelings is not just a nice way to behave. To address people properly is not just good manners; it defines who we are. If we want to be Bnei Olam Habah, and have a share in the World to Come, we have to mend the defects in our souls. We can start by taking other people’s feelings into consideration.

The ends don’t justify the means, although we make all kinds of cheshbonos to justify our actions. Often, people do what they know to be incorrect, justifying it as necessary in order to pursue a higher goal, such as to generate support for Torah or for a specific organizational cause. They fall back on flimsy rationalizations. They say they will only do it “this one time.” They say it’s not really so wrong; they say it brings in money for the institution. They say a lot of things, trying to legitimize their actions. It might sound convincing to some people; it might even sound convincing to themselves. But they are wrong.

In truth, one’s purpose in this world is not to win a popularity contest; a person’s scorecard in the game of life is determined by what he is prepared to suffer for. If someone is ready to sacrifice himself in order to do what is right, if he is prepared to relinquish gains even though it means sustaining losses, that is the measure of success.

If earning the respect of other people through honesty means is more important to a person than being admired and loved, that person will succeed in gaining immortality through his actions. If you can put your negios aside and break your own tendency toward arrogance, then you are deserving of being the grandmother of Moshiach.

If you cut corners and play games with the truth, then you may look as if you’ve come out ahead, but it will only be fleeting and temporary. Some flashes of honor and attention may come your way, but none of it will last.

How can one climb to success on the back of his fellow human beings without a pang of conscience? How can he sleep at night knowing that his success is tied to someone else’s pain?

Taking advantage of other people is not the way to get ahead and stay ahead. We get ahead by plumbing the depths of the parsha week after week and internalizing its potent lessons. Rashi and the Rishonim clarify those lessons for us, as do the Gemorah, Tosafos, the Maharsha, the Rambam…and sometimes even our own children.

The language the Gemorah uses in its exposition of Tamar’s righteous behavior is interesting. Chazal say, “Noach lo l’adam l’hapil es atzmo…” I spent a lot of time wondering about the use of the word noach, which means that it is good for a person to conduct himself this way. Shouldn’t it rather say, “Chayov adam” - that a person is obligated to behave in this way, to throw himself into a fire rather than cause someone embarrassment?

Perhaps the answer is that it is, indeed, noach, good, for a person to behave in this manner. If a person wants to be an adam, if he or she wants to accomplish something real and lasting with their life, he or she won’t succeed if their actions involve hurting someone else. Their motives and efforts have to be pure if the achievement is to endure.

One is indeed obligated to make certain his actions won’t cause pain or embarrassment to others, but such conduct is also noach lo, it is beneficial to the person himself. It is noach lo and noach l’olam, good for the person and good for the world, to be prepared to pay the ultimate price rather than bring discredit and dishonor upon an innocent person.

Rav Shach quotes the Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 85:10-11) which states that in her remarks, Tamar was speaking with ruach hakodesh and was referring to the malchus, Sanhedrin and Moshiach, which would eventually be born out of her union with Yehuda. He makes the point that, in other words, Tamar was hinting that were she to be put to death, with her would also go up in flames Dovid Hamelech, the Sanhedrin and ultimately Moshiach himself. She was prepared to forgo all of these spiritual merits if they came at the price of embarrassing Yehuda.

It is unlikely that we will ever be called upon to pay the price that Tamar came close to paying, but nonetheless we should all remember the lesson she taught us. We should know that if what we are doing is not pure and will afflict agony or aguish upon someone, we shouldn’t do it. If we are prepared to forgo fleeting fame and success in order to preserve the dignity of our friends, in the end we will be eternally blessed and remembered with respect.

The memories of those who choose expedience over ehrlichkeit will be long forgotten in the ash heap of history along with their ill-gotten gains.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Alone And Together

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

The immortal words in this week’s parsha, “Vayivoseir Yaakov levado, vayei’aveik ish imo,” ring with special urgency in our own times.

“Yaakov was left alone and a man came to do battle with him.”

Chazal explain that “the man” referred to in the posuk was Eisav’s malach. Unable to defeat Yaakov, the malach struck Yaakov’s “gid hanosheh”. At daybreak, when it was time for the angel to leave, he blessed Yaakov, saying, “From now on, your name will no longer be Yaakov, it will be Yisroel.” When asked for his name, the malach refused to identify himself and with that he was gone.

Levado. Our legacy, handed down by our forefather Yaakov, is to be alone. Halacha hi beyoduah she’Eisav soneh l’Yaakov. It is an irrevocable force built into the natural order that the Jewish people are hated throughout the ages. The nations of the world and the forces of evil will be forever locked in battle with us, determined to destroy us and what we stand for.

All through the ages, wherever Jews have found themselves, they have been targeted for destruction. Through the merit of our forefather Yaakov, as long as we were true to the mission of Yisroel, we were spared. Though battered and bruised as was Yaakov, we have remained standing long after Eisav - and those who fight his battles in each generation - have disappeared from the scene.

In the darkness of golus, men of faith stand out as lonely beacons of light and hope. Holding up the banner of Torah in a degenerate world is not easy. We are in the minority and always forced to be on the defensive. Sometimes Eisav appears in the guise of a well-meaning brother trying to help us. He advises us to make peace with our enemies who seek our destruction. He tells us to make compromises so that we can advance our causes. He tells us to sacrifice our principles and bend the rules in order to get ahead. At times he sends henchmen to do his insidious work and at times he appears himself.

We have to be prepared to do battle with him and his ilk. That means being prepared to be lonely, unpopular and unloved.

Chazal teach that it is only when Yaakov is “levado” that he survives. It is only when we stay apart from the Eisavs of this world that we can survive and prosper.

But levado doesn’t mean for each person to isolate himself in his own corner, self-centered and unconcerned for the tzibbur. Levado means that the Bnei Yaakov have to join and work together, and support each other with more than pachim ketanim.

Instead of being reactive, we should be proactive. We should look for ways to help support and spread Torah in our communities. We should join forces and seek out talmidei chachomim who need support. We should be thinking of ways to help mechanchim everywhere earn an honorable income. We have to do more to elevate their holy task to a place of esteem in our community. Why must those who dedicate their lives to the survival of the Jewish nation live barely above the poverty line?

A yungerman I met in Yerushalayim over Sukkos called me last week. My family and I had stayed in a retirement home which doubles as a hotel. This yungerman lains in the in-house shul and does his best to inject simcha and meaning into the davening and into the lives of the residents of the retirement home.

I made small talk with him over Yom Tov and before I was to return home, he came over to me with a request. He learns in a kollel, has a large family and can’t make ends meet His job in the retirement home augments his meager income, but it still isn’t enough. He said that he used to be paid to learn Mishnayos in memory of niftarim, but that ended. Feeding his family is now beyond his means. He asked me to put an advertisement in the paper that he is available to learn Mishnayos as a zechus.

He called to remind me about his predicament and asked me if I would be kind enough to keep running his ad because it hadn’t yet brought him any customers. He hasn’t been able to sign anyone up. He was crestfallen. “Oy, what am I going to do? I hoped that this would bring my yeshuah.”

I reassured him that the ad would keep running and told him that in seforim it says that at the point that man is misyaeish and gives up hope, that is when the yeshuah comes. As long as a person thinks that he can do it on his own, that he has eitzos of his own, G-d leaves him to his own devices. When a person gives up and realizes that all is from Hashem, that is when the salvation arrives. Perhaps now the yeshuah will come, I encouraged him.

I cheered him up a bit and hung up the phone, returning to my work. But I had difficulty concentrating. I thought of him sitting in his cramped apartment in Yerushalayim, troubled and anxious about his family’s predicament. I visualized him hanging up the phone in despair, not knowing where to turn to pay his bills. It is easy for me to sit in comfort and offer words of consolation. But ultimately, he is left with his terrible burden.

The bad news is that it’s not just this individual who suffers this way. There are so many more people like him. There are so many people in this country, as well as in Eretz Yisroel, who have no clue as to how they are going to make it to the end of the month. So many are in financial trouble and can’t seem to find a way to crawl out of their mess. So many people we know, and those who we will never know, need help urgently.

If we really care about Torah, we need to show it by supporting the noble and valiant people who labor in its vineyards far from the spotlight. Many of them - including some in our own daled amos - are barely holding on. There is grandeur in their daily hanhaga and in what they accomplish, but we don’t accord them the respect they deserve.

There are so many ways we can help people who are doing G-d’s work, but the first prerequisite is to care. We don’t need to raise millions of dollars and we don’t need official organizations to carry out our obligations. We don’t need bureaucracies and fancy paperwork and brochures to tell us to care about the good people who are being crushed by mounting debt.

We like to sit around and talk about how people waste money and contribute to silly causes. But is there anything stopping us from going out and raising money for people we know and can vouch for, who can use our help?

It is very easy to criticize others for not doing enough, and for having skewed priorities and questionable values. Criticizing others is always easier than rolling up our own sleeves and getting our hands dirty trying to lighten another’s burden and make a difference in people’s lives.

Let’s not just waste our breath giving it lip service; let’s start doing something real. Let us all increase the light of Torah by marshalling our resources to support those who labor for Torah, and by spreading goodness and generosity in this world.

Many people read the news emanating from Eretz Yisroel and wonder how this can be happening. How can a totally unpopular and discredited prime minister be allowed to bargain away the country’s future with no one standing in his way? How can it be that next week, Israel will sit down at a table with its unrepentant sworn enemies and give away pieces of the country in a drunken stupor? How can it be that the people in power have learned nothing about Palestinian mentality in all these years since Clinton and Barak offered Arafat Yerushalayim at Camp David, only to be rewarded with an intifada war?

How can President Bush, who sought for his legacy the war against terror, strong arm the only democracy in the Middle East to lay the groundwork for yet another terror state, this one right on Israel’s back door? How can President Bush permit the Arabist State Dept. to dictate his policy on Israel? How can an American secretary of state display such an outright lack of understanding of the situation on the ground and continue to command respect?

Why is there a double standard? Why does it always seem to be as if the Jews and the Israelis get treated so unfairly? Why is it that facts that are so obvious for us to see are ignored by the people in power?

Those of us who learn the parsha every week have no questions, only answers. We know we are in golus. We know Eisav soneh l’Yaakov. We know mipnei chatoeinu golinu me’artzeinu. We know it will be this way until we return to the ways of Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov and effect the coming of Moshiach. All else is commentary.

Our actions will help defeat Eisav in all his many guises and lead to the kiyum of “Vayizrach lo hashemesh,” for each and every one of us. Amein.

Veritas Fidelis

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

Recently, radio talk show host and conservative icon Rush Limbaugh was the victim of a vicious campaign that sought to silence him once and for all. The allegation was that he had spoken ill of the US soldiers fighting in Iraq. The most powerful people in this country were propagating the story and they were determined to make him pay for his sin. Forty US senators, led by Senate majority leader Harry Reid, signed a declaration against him and sent it to his boss. He tried responding and setting the record straight, but got no traction in disputing the claims.

In one of the most brilliant acts of a person under attack, he turned the tables on his assailants. He convinced his boss to put the letter up for auction, with the proceeds going to a military charity. The gambit won, millions were raised for charity, and the scandal was put to rest. He didn’t respond to them. He didn’t get into the gutter with them. He just turned the tables on them.

How do you react when your integrity is called into question? How are you supposed to respond when people close to you accuse you of doing things that are awful and terrible - and they persist in these charges even when they know, and you prove, that they are totally unfounded?

Most people put up a fight, screaming and trying to prove their innocence. Isn’t that what we would all do? Would we just sit by and let people impugn our integrity? We would shout from the rooftops proclaiming our innocence, whether anyone was listening to us or not. Many of us would dirty ourselves, getting into the gutter and debating our adversaries, with the mud flinging back and forth.

From Parshas Vayeitzei, we learn of the futility of such an approach.

Our forefather, Yaakov Avinu, was forced to leave his parents’ home. His mother, Rivkah, warned him that his brother Eisav was plotting to kill him because Yaakov had received the coveted brachos from their father Yitzchok. She advised him to escape to the home of her bother, Lavan.

Yitzchok concurred and sent Yaakov to Lavan in Padan Aram, and instructed him to choose a wife from among Lavan’s daughters.

In Parshas Vayeitzei we learn that on his way to Padan Aram, Yaakov passed by Har Hamoriah and slept there. The posuk relates that he took a stone, placed it by his head and went to sleep. In his dream, he saw malochim who accompanied him on the journey. He was blessed by Hakadosh Boruch Hu and was told that he would be protected.

Upon awaking, Yaakov expressed in wonderment, “Ein zeh ki im Bais Elokim - This place is a home of G-d.” He then took the stone upon which he had slept, set it up as a matzeivah, and vowed that if Hashem would be with him, help him succeed in his journey and return him safely to his father’s home, he would use this matzeivah stone for a Bais Elokim.

Yaakov then went along his way to Padan Aram. He met shepherds standing around a well of water who pointed out Rochel, the daughter of Lavan, as she approached the watering hole with her father’s flock of sheep. A large stone covered the well and the shepherds said that they weren’t able to water their sheep because they couldn’t remove the stone from atop the well.

Yaakov stepped up and rolled off the stone, watered Lavan’s sheep, kissed Rochel and wept.

He was taken by Rochel to the home of Lavan. He married Leah and Rochel, as well as Bilha and Zilpa, and worked for Lavan for 20 years. After being commanded by a malach in a dream to return to his land of birth, Yaakov gathered his wives, children and flocks and departed for home.

Lavan caught up with him and gave him a verbal haranguing, accusing him of behaving like a common thief. Yaakov responded by listing everything he had done for Lavan during his years of servitude to him. He reminded Lavan of how he had endured Lavan’s dishonest dealings. He enumerated all the ways that Lavan had robbed him, and what he owed him, having changed the terms of his employment tens of times.

Totally unfazed, Lavan responds to Yaakov’s emotional and detailed argument by insisting that all that Yaakov owns is his, Lavan’s. “Habanos benosai, v’habonim bonai, v’hatzon tzoni, vechol asher atah ro’eh li hu.”

The posuk doesn’t record that Yaakov responded to Lavan after that. The posuk recounts that Yaakov took a stone and held it up as a matzeivah. He sent his children to gather stones. They took the stones and fashioned from them a “gal,” a mound, and ate there.

When your integrity is compromised and family and friends turn on you; when you give everything you have to your job and your boss accuses you of goofing off, the urge is to fight to set the record straight, no matter what it takes.

It hurts when people don’t judge you fairly; you are pained when people who ought to know better say that you can’t do a good job. But what do you do about it? Do you shout back at them? Do you respond in kind? Do you keep on pressing your point even when you are getting nowhere and your adversary is clearly indifferent to your arguments?

Yaakov Avinu shows us the answer. When accused by Lavan, he set the record straight with his own testimony and refused to debate the issue any further.

When Lavan showed that he wasn’t interested in honestly appraising Yaakov’s track record, Yaakov returned to his even matzeivah. He told his sons to go out and gather stones, not to throw at Lavan, but to use for the construction of a gal.

Yaakov was teaching his sons, and us, that when the Lavans of the world are determined to vilify you, don’t waste your time in senseless debate; don’t get snared in a battle of one-upmanship. Instead, busy yourself with positive acts. Don’t throw stones; instead, gather them together and build. Don’t get bogged down with negativity.

Dedicate yourself to spreading G-dliness and goodness among your family and the world at large.

Perhaps it can be said allegorically that Yaakov Avinu took that original stone which he dedicated following his dream on Har Hamoriah and carried it with him as a memory of that fateful night and of the pledge that he made. Wherever he went in golus, he had a memory of the prophetic vision he had. He had a piece of kedusha with him as he sat in Lavan’s house.

In fact, a careful examination of the pesukim bears this out. At the beginning of the parsha, following his dream, Yaakov says, “How holy is this place, for it is a Bais Elokim” (28:17). The next posuk states that when he awoke, he took the stone upon which he slept and made it into a matzeivah.

The pesukim then recount the pledge he made, climaxing with, “This stone [with] which I made a matzeivah shall be a Bais Elokim…”

The obvious difficulty is that he himself had already noted that the place where he slept was a Bais Elokim. What did he mean when he said that he would use the stone to fashion a Bais Elokim?

If we understand it to mean that Yaakov took this very stone on which he had slept with him as he traveled, and used it as a Bais Elokim, then Yaakov was saying that he would establish an actual Bais Elokim from which he would spread the truth of G-d. Similarly, we find that the Bnei Yisroel built the Mishkan from Atzei Shitim that Yaakov Avinu had brought with him to Mitzrayim. Even when he was descending to golus, Yaakov carried with him material necessary for the construction of the Bais Elokim.

Chazal teach that Yaakov instituted Tefillas Arvis, the prayer we say in the dark of night. From Yaakov comes a special legacy of faith and hope that enables us to endure the bitter exile. Even as we grope our way in the darkness, we can still make room for light in our lives.

Even when all we have is an inert stone, we can transform it into a tool of holiness and use it to fashion a temple of G-d. We can be enslaved by tyrannical, maniacal people like Lavan, but if we are bearers of kedusha, we can ignore them and build edifices of holiness.

Yaakov was able to roll the stone of darkness off the well of water and life while the others just stood by, lacking the strength of purpose to accomplish the feat. They did not know that it was possible to raise the stones which impede the forces of good. They had various excuses for their inaction. Because they thought that it couldn’t be done, they didn’t even make the attempt.

Yaakov showed us that we should let nothing stand in the way of our pursuit of Torah, of goodness and of life itself.

The next time you are told that it can’t be done, or people attempt to minimize your qualities and qualifications or doubt your accomplishments, remember Yaakov Avinu and his matzeivah. Always endeavor to bring kedusha to your life, wherever you are and whatever you do.

Remember how Yaakov instructed his sons after Lavan’s tongue-lashing. Gather your strength, collect yourself and look to build, not to destroy. Let your success be your response. Don’t get into a shouting match; don’t attempt to rationally explain the truth.

Your positive actions will speak louder, last longer and accomplish much more than angry words.

Every time another newspaper writes a negative article about religious Jews, people go crazy, passing the article around. They write letters to unsympathetic editors, and wonder how to set the record straight about us and our ways. They fail to recognize that the Lavans of the world are not interested in the truth. The only way for us to refute their claims is to ensure that we always conduct ourselves properly, in public and private, and don’t engage in any practices that would bring shame upon our community and ourselves.

My father, shlit”a, commented that a drawback of not reading the daily newspaper is that people don’t realize how their actions will be written up in the newspaper when the press gets wind of what they are doing. You can rationalize your actions as being legal, as being necessary, as hedging a bet, and in many other ways, but think about the possibility that what you have done will be written about in the New York Times or any local paper, and you may think twice before doing it.

As children of Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov, we must remember to always conduct ourselves properly and above board, not to support evil or evil-doers, and not to engage in activity which can be misconstrued. If we are maligned and challenged, we state the facts and move on, continuing our legacy of compassion, honesty and fidelity to a higher code of duty and honor with an even stronger dedication. We have to be secure enough in our beliefs and true to them, so that we can ignore the naysayers.

The parsha concludes, “V’Yaakov holach ledarko vayifge’uh bo malachei Elokim. Vayomer Yaakov ka’asher ra’am machaneh Elokim zeh…” Because Yaakov didn’t get into the gutter with Lavan, he merited that malochim came to greet him as he left Lavan behind.

May we all be zoche to see the brocha in our homes and lives, with our reputations intact.