An Eloquent Silence Part Two

Nov 13th, 2010 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week
In “An Eloquent Silence,” (To which, you my dear readers responded with silence,) I asked which was the most eloquent silence in Vayeitzei. I would like to suggest two possibilities:

Laban was hunting for his stolen idols. “Jacob answered and said to Laban,…‘with whomever you find your gods, he shall not live.’ Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them. (Learning How To Stand Up To A Bully) Laban came into Jacob’s tent – Rashi comments, “Rachel’s tent” – and into Leah’s tent, and into the tent of the two maidservants, but he found nothing. When he had left Leah’s tent, he came into Rachel’s tent.” Rashi comments that Laban returned to Rachel’s tent because he noticed that Rachel was moving around a little too much. Laban suspected Rachel.

“Now Rachel had taken the Teraphim, put them into the camel’s packsaddle and sat on them. Laban rummaged through the whole tent, but found nothing. She said to her father, ‘Let not my lord find it annoying that I cannot rise up before you, for the way of women is upon me. Thus he searched but did not find the Teraphim.”

Remember that Laban searched Rachel’s tent a second time before he searched the tent of the two maidservants; “When he had left Leah’s tent, he came into Rachel’s tent.” Also note that Rachel hid the Teraphim after the first time that Laban searched her tent. Further, Rachel only speaks up after it says that, “Laban rummaged through the whole tent, but found nothing.”

Laban suspected Rachel enough to search a second time. Rachel acts even more suspiciously by sitting on the camel’s packsaddle only during Laban’s second search of her tent. She only mentions, “for the way of women is upon me,” after his second search.

Laban knew exactly where the stolen Teraphim were! His search through the tent of the maidservants was a sham. He remembered Jacob’s words clearly, “With whomever you find your gods, he shall not live.” Laban knew he could not “find” the Teraphim because it was the “finding” that would activate Jacob’s curse of death. Laban remained silent to protect Rachel.

Laban’s silence at this moment is an eloquent statement of his love for Rachel; a love more powerful than his anger over his stolen gods.

There is another, I believe, even more powerful eloquent silence…

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