“And God rescued the property of your father and gave it to me.” (Bereshith 31:9)
Who did God “rescue” Lavan’s property from? Yaakov worked faithfully for six years, and Lavan reciprocated by changing his wages one hundred times. In order to counteract this fraudulent behavior, God sent Yaakov Divine inspiration to make an arrangement with Lavan in which Yaakov would receive all of the animals born with certain unusual markings. According to natural means only a small percentage should have had the marks which would make them Yaakov’s property. Miraculous intervention caused all the sheep to have those markings. As a result, Yaakov received his rightful wages, which Lavan had tried to cheat him of. In this way Yaakov’s wages were “rescued” from Lavan.
Yaakov later referred to this incident when he said, “I am humbled because of all the kindness and truth that You have done for me.”1 The attribute of Divine kindness is clear; how was God’s “truth” expressed? Sometimes if a person is cheated, God reimburses him by sending him other money. While this certainly comforts the victim of the crime, it is not a total consolation. It is only a display of “kindness” for had he not lost his original money he would be even richer, and the person who deceived him still has his money. God’s truth is only seen if the victim is reimbursed directly from the perpetrator of the crime himself, such as was the case with Yaakov.2
People who try to acquire wealth by means of deception and knavery should not be surprised if they find their fortunes dwindling at the hands of others, as the verse says, “Property is destroyed without judgment.”3 Divine reproof is measure for measure, and just as their wealth came at the expense of others, so too they will lose it in a similar fashion.4 Alternatively, God may cause them to have additional expenditures. When they have paid for these unusual expenses, they may look proudly upon their accomplishment, thinking that they managed to cover all of the costs because of the deceptive business practices. Little do they know that had they acted with honesty, they would not have had so many expenses in the first place!
1 Bereshith 32:11.
2 Or HaChaim, Bereshith 32:11.
3 Mishlei 13:23.
4 Midrash Shachar Tov ibid.
Text Copyright © 2008 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org