As in the previous question, the Haggadah mentions the wickedness of Lavan that surpasses the wickedness of Pharaoh.

THat wickedness seems inconsistent with the general story of the Torah - Eisov was wicked because Yaakov was good, but Lavan comes from a good family (Rivka's brother).

So how come Lavan turns so evil and how come nothing bad ever descends from him and how come he's not punished?

  • Some say that Lavan and Bilam were the same person. Does that help to answer your question? (FWIW not everyone reads that line of the Haggadah in a fashion which has Lavan as being worse than Paroh. Both were certainly wicked, but many interpret that very line as indicating that in fact Paroh was worse.)
    – DonielF
    Apr 22, 2019 at 1:32
  • @DonielF Please continue, if Lavan became Bilam it explains how he died, but the first part of the Q remains - what made him so bad?
    – Al Berko
    Apr 22, 2019 at 8:48
  • His father was Besu’el. I wouldn’t say he was the nicest guy; remember that he tried to kill Eliezer.
    – DonielF
    Apr 22, 2019 at 14:24
  • @DonielF still it was the most Kosher family around... acc. to Avrohom. BTW did Besuel want to kill Eliezer to undermine the marriage and the coming of the Jewish people? Never heard of - what's the source?
    – Al Berko
    Apr 22, 2019 at 14:40
  • 1. Were they the most Kosher inherently, or were they still mostly terrible people but it’s better to marry someone excellent from that background than someone excellent from a slave family? 2. I’ve heard some explanations of ארמי אבד אבי as referring to בתואל trying to kill אליעזר, as then יצחק would never have been able to marry (as the Halacha is that if one sends a שליח to marry someone and the שליח dies, he’s forbidden to marry anyone, as the שליח may have married someone for him, and this woman might be her close relative). B”n will try to find a source later.
    – DonielF
    Apr 22, 2019 at 14:52

1 Answer 1


Good question. Lavan is not mentioned in the tanach after the story of yaakov. As the Haggada described and as we can learn from the pshat, lavan was selfish and wanted everything for himself. הבנים בני והבנות בנותי . A person who is so selfish and self centered will never build something which is bigger than himself. This is why he was is called lavan harasha. He wanted yaakov to remain an employee and not start the glorious startup of the jewish people!!

  • 2
    It's not like someone didn't randomly walk off with 2 of his daughters, a flock of his property, and his idols.
    – Aaron
    Apr 21, 2019 at 18:26
  • Nice speculation, but it doesn't address the comparison of Lavan to Pharaoh. OK, he was bad and selfish but claiming he was trying to uproot the Israeli Nation seems an exaggeration
    – Al Berko
    Apr 21, 2019 at 19:03
  • Not speculation. Pshat. By stopping yaakov, lavan harasha would have shut down the jewish startup before it got off the ground. Apr 22, 2019 at 5:59

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