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Yaacov had left Beer Sheva to Charan, when chanced upon the shepherds at the well who informed him that his cousin, Rachel, is on the way with her flock. Yaacov went on to uncover the well for her. She then brought him home to meet her father – a visit that would end up lasting 20 years. At the end of these years, Yaacov was already a wealthy man. He had married both Rachel and Leah, the daughters of Lavan, and had 11 sons. Yaacov realized that things between him and Lavan were not so good. So, he decided, with the backing of Hashem, to leave and go back home. The problem was that Lavan would never let. Therefore he moved everything without telling Lavan. After three days, Lavan had caught wind of the plan and became upset at Yaacov for leaving just like that. They finally caught up on Har Gilad, but not before Hashem warned Lavan to leave Yaacov alone.  Lavan wanted to say a proper goodbye to his children. Yaacov explained that he was afraid to say goodbye lest Lavan confiscate everything from him. Ultimately, they agreed not to cross each other’s path and they would leave each other alone.

The pasuk when describing the parting of Lavan and Yaacov states “Lavan returned to his place and Yaacov went on his journey.” 

The Meshech Chochma explains that if someone has such a holy personage, such as Yaacov, in their home even for a short time, they are affected by his greatness. That means that they soak in the ways and wisdom of the tzaddik and are able to use that as a stepping stone towards further growth. With Lavan, however, this did not happen. Lavan may have grown to greater spiritual heights while Yaacov was staying at his estate, however when they parted ways, they parted completely. Lavan went back to his place, to square one, where he was entrenched in deceit and corruption of mind and spirit. 

Yaacov was a tzaddik and he was able to move on from this experience with Lavan. He channelled the saga towards attaining greater heights in spirituality. When he went on his way, he continued to climb higher up the spiritual ladder. We find in the gemara that Talmidei Chachamim have no rest – not in this world nor the next, as they are constantly on a  journey higher. We see as soon as Yaacov left Charan, he met up with the Malachim, which shows that he was on a higher track already.

This may explain the concept of Yaacov’s dream that Hashem was telling Yaacov that he was about to enter a situation where he could go up and he could go down. That there will be downs, but he would need to make sure he would go back up. Yaacov could very well have moved away from his father in law and been down from it. He could have just stayed down, but instead Yaacov continued going up. In fact, he used the challenge as a rung to ascend.

Many times in life we find ourselves in situations where it is a real dead end. There is seemingly no way out. Eventually we all get out of these situations. What we do next though, is crucial to our lives. We can choose to get stuck in the situation and ultimately end up at square one. Or we can use it as a tool for growth and to ascend the ladder towards exponential heights.

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