‘Honor Your Father and Your Mother’ – Jacob’s Journey to Haran from the Hebrew Perspective

Today’s Parasha {פרשה} (weekly Torah portion) is ‘Va-Yetze’ {ויצא} (Hebrew for ‘and he left’). This is the seventh weekly Torah portion in the Book of Genesis and can be found in Genesis 28:10–32:3.

The name of the weekly Torah portion comes from the first word (in the original Hebrew) of the opening verse:

“Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran.” (Genesis 28:10)

The Jewish Bible commentators wondered about the rather odd ‘unnecessary piece of information’ that can be found in the verse above, which tells us FROM where Jacob left and TO WHERE he went. In other words, why was it so important to tell us FROM where Jacob left?

We already KNOW from where he left… it would have been much simpler to just say ‘and Jacob went toward Haran.’ What was the reason to specifically mention that ‘he left Beersheba?’

One of the more interesting answers I have read about that comes from an 18th century German-Jewish Rabbi, who gave an explanation using the double Hebrew meaning of the verb ‘La-Tzet’ {לצאת} – the infinitive form of ‘Va-Yetze.’

This verb was translated to English as ‘left.’ In Hebrew, this verb has more than just one meaning and it can also mean ‘to exit’ or ‘to run away.’ Due to this double meaning, the rabbi said, “When a person leaves a certain place in order to go to another place, it may be due to TWO options: One is to run away from the first place. And
the second is a strong desire to arrive at the other place.

Now, in Jacob’s case, BOTH reasons exist – because his mother Rebeca told him to leave (to run away) from Esau and that means to leave Beersheba, while his father Isaac had asked him to go specifically to Haran in order to find a good wife.

Therefore, it was important to emphasize that Jacob obeyed both of his parents by ‘leaving Beersheba and going toward Haran’.”