Yaakov tells Lavan that "You changed my wages ten times." [Chazal: actually a hundred times.] It's a sad story. If Lavan had just given Yaakov normal wages, מחצית שכר - splitting the outcome - or some other fraction of the outcome, then Yaakov becoming wealthy would have inevitably meant that Lavan became wealthy with him, as partners.
But Lavan couldn't turn away from trying to cheat his son-in-law. He could never believe that he couldn't game the setup, couldn't find a way to get everything and leave his beloved son-in-law with nothing. So he kept changing the rules, over and over, and could never accept that he was going to lose as a result of being unwilling to work together. Sad, pathetic.
My question is on the details. The first time, it seems to be very clearly explained: Yaakov will get all the striped or speckled etc. sheep and/or goats born. Right now, Lavan will remove all the striped or speckled ones, leaving only ones that Yaakov won't get. Then when new ones are born, if they are striped or speckled (they shouldn't be!) only then would Yaakov get them. As Yaakov says (Bereishis 30:33),

וְעָנְתָה־בִּי צִדְקָתִי בְּיוֹם מָחָר כִּי־תָבוֹא עַל־שְֹכָרִי לְפָנֶיךָ כֹּל אֲשֶׁר־אֵינֶנּוּ נָקֹד וְטָלוּא בָּעִזִּים וְחוּם בַּכְּשָֹבִים גָּנוּב הוּא אִתִּי
"My righteousness will answer for me in the future, if you come to my wages before you: anything that is not speckled or striped among the goats, or brown among the sheep - it would be stolen by me."

It is set up to be easy to tell whose sheep are whose.
What I don't understand is what happens after that. If Lavan changes the wages: From now on, Yaakov gets all the akudim - striped at the ankles, then striped at the midsection, etc. - but not speckled ones. Do you switch them all around at that point, Yaakov trades in all the speckled ones for a lot of white ones, then they do it again? Are the birthings separated enough in time (with special seasons, see first mishnah in Rosh Hashana) so that you could tell that the speckled ones are from birthing 1 and the striped are from birthing 2? Or do they give up on that level of "my righteousness will answer for me", accepting that after a while the animals are all mixed up together and Lavan will need to be sure to show up at birthings and retrieve all his new animals?

1 Answer 1


Not sure what exactly he's saying, but see here (Seforno Bereishis 30:40):

אל עקוד וכל חום בצאן לבן אחר שהחליף משכרתו והשאיר בעדרו עקוד וכל חום:
אל עקוד וכל חום בצאן לבן, this was after Lavan had already changed the wages of the contract by leaving to Yaakov lambs [with different skin patterns than had been agreed to originally] akud and with any brown.

I saw the edition of Seforno by R' Y. Leifer, where he explains that in the original deal, Yaakov would not have had any akud or brown of Lavan's (בצאן לבן) to work with, they were all taken away; so this must be after Lavan changed the rules and did an exchange. I think.

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