Jacob leaves home in flight from Esau who had sworn to kill him, only to find himself in a fraught relationship with Laban, his uncle, with whom he takes refuge. He falls in love with Laban’s younger daughter Rachel, and agrees to work the seven years to earn her hand in marriage. When the wedding eventually takes place, Jacob wakes the next morning to discover that Laban has substituted the elder, Leah, in place of Rachel. Jacob later marries Rachel as well, but there is tension between the sisters. Leah, unloved, is blessed with children; Rachel, loved, is not. Interwoven with this is another tension between Jacob and Laban – about flocks, wages and ownership – which eventually leads Jacob to flee again, this time homeward. The parsha is framed by these two journeys.

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