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Parashat Vayetze – Distance Yourself From Dispute

וַיִּחַר לְיַעֲקֹב… וַיֹּאמֶר לְלָבָן מַה פִּשְׁעִי מַה חַטָּאתִי כִּי דָלַקְתָּ אַחֲרָי

And Yaakov was frustrated… and he said to Lavan, “What is my transgression? What is my sin, that you have pursued me?

Yaakov worked for Lavan for a long time. He started hearing rumors that he had been stealing from Lavan, and noticed that Lavan himself was treating him differently. It was time to go. Yaakov fled without even a goodbye (or even just “bye.”) When Lavan found out he gave chase, but before catching up, Hashem came to him in a dream and scared him off of any attempt to harm Yaakov. Lavan did however exchange some harsh words and make some ridiculous claims against Yaakov. Yaakov was frustrated and asked what he had done wrong to be treated like a common criminal. He further proved to Lavan that not only had he been honest when tending to his flock, but even absorbed all losses himself when he didn’t have to. They made a treaty and promptly parted ways.

The Chafetz Chaim draws a lesson from here about how scrupulous one must be to avoid any disputes, even when they are right! One of the mitzvot is “not to be like Korach and his cohorts, which Chazal tell us is a command to stay far from dispute. Even if for whatever reason the dispute is unavoidable, still one must be extremely careful with his words and not make it any worse. 

The Gemara tells us wonderful things about those who hear others speaking negatively about them and remain silent instead of adding fuel to the flames by responding. The Chafetz Chaim advises that we keep this in mind even if we are stuck in a dispute to help ourselves stay out of it.

 

 

Shabbat Shalom

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