Va-yetzei is a story of the consequences of deception and deceit. These qualities are similar to lies, and should not be used for personal gain. We learn from the life lessons of the patriarchs, and their families, many things. Some we should copy, some avoid. The matter of deception was used by Abraham twice, for self protection from the Egyptians and Philistines. Regardless of any justification, his son Isaac learned from the family stories what happened. Later, Isaac used deception with the Philistines the same way, but they had learned from the incident with Abraham, and were not so gullible the second time. Again, his sons, Esau and Jacob learned from the family stories. Deception was allowed in their minds, and personal gain followed.
Jacob was devious with his brother Esau in asking him to sell his birthright for some food, when returning from a long hunt to feed the family. One should never act unfairly nor unkindly, and especially with family. But Jacob saw personal gain (justified by prophetic words from his mother). In his mind he was supposed to be the leader, the might, the ruler of the family. So he took matters into his own hands and took advantage of his brother at the choice moment.
Since he got away with it the first time, the second time was easier to justify to himself. Prodded by his mother, he deceived his father, Isaac, to give him the blessing of the first born as well. This caused terrible strife in the family, to the point that Esau was ready to kill Jacob when he would get the chance. Who knows, maybe Jacob was always trying to one up his brother Esau, and this tension had been building for years. So Jacob asks leave to get a wife, and goes to live far away in Haran, with the family clan.
The consequences, 20 years of hard labor, raising flocks. A wife, Leah, which he did not choose. He never saw his mother again. The next time he saw his father was on his death bed. And the brotherly relationship was never really healed. It looks like Esau forgave his brother but Jacob could not allow himself to trust anyone very deeply again, and seems to stay aloof in relationships for the rest of his life. The nations of Israel and Edom never seem to be on good terms again either.
Oh, the picture. Deception and deceit will make you a lone bird.
Here are some study notes:
Parsha Va-Yetzei 5771.doc
Parsha Va-Yetzei 5771.pdf