Below is a collection of Parashat Vayetze resources created by The Lookstein Center staff or contributed to the site by Jewish educators.
This is a growing collection. Check back soon or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you didn’t find what you’re looking for.
DISCUSSION AND REFLECTION QUESTIONS
Question #1: How can one person impact a whole community? This week’s parasha opens by telling us that Jacob left Beer Sheva and went to Haran. Isn’t it enough to write that he went to Haran? Rashi explains that this is to teach us that when a righteous person leaves a city, it makes an impression. When he is there, he adds so much, he is their glory; and when he leaves his absence is felt. Do you know of anyone who made a big difference in your community?
Look inside the text (Bereshit 28:10),
וַיֵּצֵא יַעֲקֹב מִבְּאֵר שָׁבַע וַיֵּלֶךְ חָרָנָה – Jacob left Beer Sheba and set out for Haran.
Question #2:How can you respond to someone who is complaining and blaming you? What if they are complaining about something that YOU did? Would you feel sympathetic or angry? When Rachel saw that she had not born any children, she became envious of her sister; and Rachel said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die.” How do you feel about how Jacob reacted to Rachel in this situation?
Look inside the text (Bereshit 30:2),
וַיִּחַר אַף יַעֲקֹב בְּרָחֵל וַיֹּאמֶר הֲתַחַת אֱלֹהִים אָנֹכִי אֲשֶׁר מָנַע מִמֵּךְ פְּרִי בָטֶן – He answers in anger, “Am I in the place of God who has not enabled you to have children (or, in other words, it’s not my fault!)
Question #3: Jacob arrives in Haran and tells Laban “all those things” (Bereshit 29:13). It is possible that Jacob’s honesty ended up lowering his status in Laban’s eyes, which had all sorts of effects on their relationship. While honesty is obviously an important value, is it possible that too much honesty can be damaging? When is it appropriate to hold back critical information in certain relationships? How do we draw the line between what is appropriate to share and what is not?
Question #4: Jacob makes a deal with Laban regarding the white and the non-white sheep, after which he does some mysterious things with the mating of the sheep. While we don’t know the precise nature of what he did, whether it was through some kind of shepherd’s secret, magic, or selective breeding, Laban did not anticipate this and Jacob gains considerable wealth in a short period of time. When dealing with dishonest people, do we have an obligation to be straightforward or is it OK to engage in some form of deception to protect ourselves and “even the playing field?” Are there limits to the amount of deception that we can use or the extent of what we can gain from it? What kind of circumstances could justify that deception – potential financial loss or gain, political positioning, angling to get a job or landing a contract, personal safety, or national security?
LESSON PLANS AND ARTICLES
Vayetze Targilon – This sample parasha workbook for elementary school students includes lessons on vocabulary and questions on parasha content.