Yacov leaves his hometown of Beer Sheva and journeys to Charan. On the way, he encounters “the place” and sleeps there, dreaming of a ladder connecting heaven and earth, with angels climbing and descending on it; Hashem appears and promises that the land upon which he lies will be given to his descendants. In the morning, Yacov raises the stone on which he laid his head as an altar and monument, pledging that it will be made the house of Hashem.
In Charan, Yacov stays with and works for his uncle Lavan, tending Lavan’s sheep. Lavan agrees to give him his younger daughter, Rachel—whom Yacov loves—in marriage, in return for seven years’ labor. But on the wedding night, Lavan gives him his elder daughter, Leah, instead—a deception Yacov discovers only in the morning. Yacov marries Rachel too, a week later, after agreeing to work another seven years for Lavan.
Leah gives birth to six sons—Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Yehudah, Isachar and Zevulun—and a daughter, Dinah, while Rachel remains barren. Rachel gives Yacov her handmaid, Bilhah, as a wife to bear children in her stead, and two more sons, Dan and Naftali, are born. Leah does the same with her handmaid, Zilpah, who gives birth to Gad and Asher. Finally, Rachel’s prayers are answered and she gives birth to Yosef.
Yacov has now been in Charan for fourteen years, and wishes to return home. But Lavan persuades him to remain, now offering him sheep in return for his labor. Yacov prospers, despite Lavan’s repeated attempts to swindle him. After six years, Yacov leaves Charan in stealth, fearing that Lavan would prevent him from leaving with the family and property for which he labored. Lavan pursues Yacov, but is warned by Hashem in a dream not to harm him. Lavan and Yacov make a pact on Mount Gal-Ed, attested to by a pile of stones, and Yacov proceeds to the Holy Land, where he is met by angels.
“Heat consumed me . . . Yet you changed my wages ten times“ (Bereishis 21:40-41)
After many years of working under Lavan, Yaakov finally leaves with his family and his belongings to return to Eretz Yisroel. He fled, without telling Lavan. Lavan, when hearing about it, chased after him. When he finally caught up to Yaakov, an argument arose in which Yaakov testified about himself that despite the fact that Lavan was constantly trying to cheat him, he still did his work faithfully.
Rav Shach learns a very important lesson here. When a person is given a charge to do, he must do it to his fullest abilities, despite whatever wrongs he believes are being committed against him; even if he has an argument with that person, he must do his best not to cause the other any harm, financially or physically.
Rav Moshe Feinstein in a responsa, concerning some teachers who went on strike until certain demands are met. Rav Feinstein said that even if their claims are legitimate, teachers’ striking is not a Jewish response.
While Yaakov cared for his uncle’s flocks all the while his uncle was trying to trick him, so too do these teachers have to care for their “flocks” while they argue with the administration.
When we are being paid for work, even if we have legitimate claims against our employers, we need to be very careful to continue to do our jobs properly and not cause others any harm.
Have a great Shabbos!