Why does the split between the fourth and fifth readings of Parashat Vayeitzei occur in the middle of Lavan's short piece of dialogue?

Genesis 30:25 - 34 describes a dialogue between Ya'akov and Lavan, discussing the terms of Ya'akov's continued employment. One part of this, Verses 27 - 28, comprises a short, three-sentence response by Lavan:

כז. וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו לָבָן אִם נָא מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ נִחַשְׁתִּי וַיְבָרֲכֵנִי יְהֹוָה בִּגְלָלֶךָ‏‏‏‏

כח. וַיֹּאמַר נָקְבָה שְׂכָרְךָ עָלַי וְאֶתֵּנָה

27 And Laban said to him, "If only I have now found favor in your eyes! I have divined, and the Lord has blessed me for your sake."

28 Then he said, "Specify your wages for me, and I will give [them]."

Oddly, the break between the fourth and fifth readings of the parasha is between these two verses. There's no paragraph break here, and there's nothing particularly sad in the surrounding text. Two nearby places that this break could possibly have been without breaking up an individual's speeach are:

  • Between Verses 24 and 25, dividing between the sequence of Ya'akov's children being born (and ending with an explicit prayer to God) and Ya'akov's negotiation with Lavan.

  • Between Verses 30:43 and 31:1, dividing between Ya'akov becoming wealthy and the sequence leading up to his departure from Lavan's area.

Why isn't the split in one of those places, rather than where it breaks up a two-verse speech and a ten-verse dialogue?


2 Answers 2


According to the interpretation of these verses in R' Samson Raphael Hirsch's commentary, perhaps this break serves to underscore something that the text already tells us with the repeated "and he said" - that Lavan paused after Verse 24, hoping for a response from Ya'akov, and continued only after he saw that Ya'akov wasn't going to respond.

According to R' Hirsch, Lavan was trying to get Ya'akov to want to keep working without pay by flattering him. Here's how R' Hirsch expands on Lavan's words in Verse 24:

"I do not like to let you go, no real reason for it, but I have a נחוש about you, have a superstitious idea that "'ה", the God Whom you serve, has brought me luck, blessed me because you are such a pious man. That is why I do not like to let such a pious man go away from me".

Ya'akov apparently met this appeal with silence, as the next verse has Lavan talking again, introduced with a new "and he said." So, Lavan felt compelled to bring up the subject of wages.

So, perhaps we break the Torah reading here to add emphasis to Lavan's expectant pause and Ya'akov's silence in the face of Lavan's false piety.


If there was a paragraph break in the scroll, I'd have a bigger problem, but there isn't.

I presume it's due to the rule of the Yerushalmi Megillah (Perek Benei HaIr 7) quoted in OC 139:1, "This fellow who gets up to read from the Torah needs to begin [his portion] with a good thing & seal it with a good thing." Lavan's acknowledgement that Yaakov has brought him blessing is a "good thing" with which the previous oleh can finish, and Lavan's offer of better wages is a "good thing" with which the next oleh may begin.

So why not stop after Yosef's birth as a "good thing"? Perhaps Rachel's dissatisfaction (Yosef = "G-d should add another son to me!") or Yaakov's restlessness ("please send me back to my place...").

Why not stop at the end of the Chapter? Perhaps starting the next reading with Lavan's sons grumbling that "Yaakov has taken all that is our father's!" is not a "good thing".

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