Yaakov told Rachel that " וַיַּגֵּד יַעֲקֹב לְרָחֵל כִּי אֲחִי אָבִיהָ הוּא וְכִי בֶן רִבְקָה הוּא וַתָּרָץ וַתַּגֵּד לְאָבִיהָ:"

And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's kinsman and that he was Rebecca's son, and she ran and told her father.

Rashi explains:

כי אחי אביה הוא: קרוב לאביה, כמו (לעיל יג ח) אנשים אחים אנחנו. ומדרשו אם לרמאות הוא בא גם אני אחיו ברמאות, ואם אדם כשר הוא, גם אני בן רבקה אחותו הכשרה: that he was her father’s kinsman: Heb. אִחִי אָבִיהָ, lit., her father’s brother. Related to her father, as (above 13:8):“we are kinsmen (אַחִים)” (Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer , ch. 36). Its midrashic interpretation is: If he (Laban) comes to deceive me, I, too, am his brother in deception, and if he is an honest man, I, too, am the son of his honest sister Rebecca. [from Gen. Rabbah 70:13] (emphasis mine)

How was Yaakov Lavan's brother? There were two cases of trickery:

  1. Rochel and Leah - Yaakov got tricked. True, he had a good counter-plan, but not good enough to avoid either marrying Leah or embarrassing her.
  2. His wages - If not for a miracle, Yaakov would have gotten nothing. Doesn't seem like a good plan. Moreover, he doesn't even arrange a wage from before. He knows he's dealing with a liar (he was already tricked with Rochel and Leah by this point). Especially the Torah says that if one doesn't set a wage he has the lower side of the bargaining table (Yado al hatachtona). Doesn't seem to be so cunning.

How does this Medrash work? What did Yaakov trick Lavan with, or what trickery did he use to avoid Lavan's tricks?

  • 2
    I don't know about #1, but as for #2 he certainly played some tricks with the sheep. – Shokhet Nov 28 '14 at 0:50
  • 1
    He had just (well, fourteen years prior) successfully tricked Yitzchak into thinking he was Esav. – msh210 Nov 28 '14 at 1:56
  • For #1, who says that embarrassing Leah is important to trickery? Second of all, as msh210 pointed out, he just finished tricking Yitzchak/Esav. For #2 he also clearly had a plan with the sheep, however you want to understand the story. He certainly went in with a plan, even if it revolved around miracles. – רבות מחשבות Jan 3 '18 at 15:56
  • Or, it was a threat - if he comes after me like a Ramai, I will cheat him back. It turns out he didn't come after him like a Ramai in first place. – רבות מחשבות Jan 3 '18 at 15:58
  • Last interpretation is that Yaakov told Rachel that "if he (Lavan) plans on cheating me, tell him that I am also a cheater, and it's not worth it" and" if he comes to take me in, I'm the son of his sister" Vedok. If you want, I can post these suggestions as an answer. – רבות מחשבות Jan 3 '18 at 16:00

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