VaYetze: The Power of Persuasion

What would you do if God Himself appeared to you and commanded you to do something? Wouldn’t you do it right away? What if someone got in your way? How would you handle that person? Would you bowl them over to achieve your goal and declare it the Will of God? Let us examine what Yaakov (Jacob) did. In Genesis 31:3, God commands Yaakov to leave the house of Lavan and return to his homeland, Canaan. “Return to the land of your fathers…” The Torah then spends 13¬†verses (4-16) detailing Yaakov’s conversation with Rachel and Leah, 9 of which are Yaakov explaining to them why the time has come to leave their father’s house. They finally agree in verses 14-16. Why does the Torah record this conversation? Why not merely tell us that Yaakov followed God’s command and that his wives went with him? By detailing Yaakov’s conversation with his wives, the Torah teaches the importance of using words to persuade others to follow the right path, rather than utilizing tactics of force or intimidation to make others do what we want, even when we know we are absolutely right — even when God Himself has commanded the matter to be done! — and even, or perhaps especially, in interactions with our family members. Let us follow the Godly path of using a soft word rather than a heavy hand, for “[the Torah’s] ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace” (Proverbs 3:17).

Based on¬†Shla”h, Parshas VaYetze

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