By Rabbi Daniel Travis
"And God rescued the property of your father and gave it to me."
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
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