An appointed time for Torah study in the everyday life 
The Parasha in the daily Life - Parashat Vayetze - Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald - 5780
On Yaacov's departure to Haran, he returns to Shem and Eber's Beit Midrash for another fourteen years: "Hizekiah said: "At the age of sixty-three our father Yaacov received the blessings. Stayed another fourteen years at Eber's" (Bereshit Rabbah 68:5). 
In our Beit Midrash we usually ask: Why does Yaacov return to Shem and Eber's Beit Midrash? After all, Yaacov had studied there before in his youth? אִ֣ישׁ תָּ֔ם יֹשֵׁ֖ב אֹהָלִֽים׃
"There is no one who would labor at the Torah as our ancestor Yaacov did. It is just as you say (in Bereshit 25:27): But Yaacov was a perfect man dwelling in tents. It's not written here 'dwelling in a tent' but dwelling in tents. He would go out from the Beit Midrash of Shem and enter the Beit Midrash of Eber. Then he would go from the Beit Midrash of Eber to Abraham's Beit Midrash. (Midrash Tanchuma Buber Vayishlach 9)
According to this Midrash's count, Yaakov is already sixty-three years old! Why doesn't he rush to Laban's house to start his own family? Why is he delaying the establishment of his family from which Am Israel is to start? And why did he go to Shem and Eber's Beit Midrash?
Some have said that the Shem and Eber's Beit Midrash was special in that its founders faced extraordinary spiritual challenges, and a challenging environment: "Shem, Noah's son who was saved from the flood generation, was saved not only from the flood waters but also from the flood generation people and environment and their destruction. Eber was born and lived in this same generation, of those who wanted to build a tower with its head in heaven to rebel against G-d, but he did not drift away with them and remained in his righteousness. Only Shem and Eber, who remained untouched of these corrupt environments, and not Abraham and Yitzhak, could have taught Yaacov the Torah he needed to remain undisturbed in the environment of Laban, a corrupt and wicked man". ("Emet Le'Yaacov" to Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetzky, p. 164-166).
In our Beit Midrash we usually answer the question in a way that might teach us about the purpose of the Beit Midrash: 
Yaakov embarks on his great mission to start Am Israel, a great long-term mission, and he will face challenges he had not experienced so far. In order to fulfill the mission, he must return to the Beit Midrash and engage clearly in Torah study. Hence, the beginning of every major and meaningful move in the public and private's life must include a thorough, in-depth, and renewed Torah study in the Beit Midrash (this is also how we interpret Yehuda's mission to establish the Beit Midrash in Goshen before the descent to Egypt, and the beginning of Am Israel).
In our times, many high school graduates choose to devote a significant amount of time to 'learning Torah for its own sake' in the Beit Midrash. Among the many learning objectives there is the personality building and preparation for the spiritual challenges they will face in their daily lives and during their military service. There are graduates, girls and lads, who return to the Beit Midrash for another significant period, "just to study Torah" after their military and national service, before they go on with their lives. 
This study provides them with tools to continue their studies afterwards, and to "set times for Torah" - till one hundred and twenty! And to incorporate these "Torah times" into the complex and demanding practical life tasks: relationships, home and family, profession and livelihood, continued personal development, integration into the community and working on behalf of the public.
The Torah learning is the most important Mitzvah in the Torah: 
וְתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה כְּנֶגֶד כֻּלָּם
"And the study of the Torah is equal to them all". (Mishnah Peah 1:1)
This obligation is imposed on everyone in every stage of life: "Every man in Israel is obliged to study the Torah, whether he be poor or rich, whether he be physically healthy or ailing, whether he be in full vigor of youth or of great age and weakened vitality; even if he be dependent upon alms for his livelihood, or going around from door to door begging his daily bread, yea, even he who has a wife and children to support is obliged to have an appointed time for the study of the Torah, both during the day and at night, for it is said: "But thou shalt meditate therein day and night" (Rambam Mishneh Torah-Torah Study 1:8).
The "appointed daily time" is also the guarantee to keep the Torah in the daily life, as a Torah that is applied in life and not only as a conceptual theory that exists among those sitting in the Beit Midrash, who are not challenged in the field of life. 
יָפֶה תַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה עִם דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ, שֶׁיְּגִיעַת שְׁנֵיהֶם מְשַׁכַּחַת עָוֹן
"Excellent is the study of the Torah when combined with a worldly occupation, for toil in them both keeps sin out of one’s mind" (Pirkei Avot 2:2)
Torah marks the values and goals of life. From it, we derive the spiritual and mental strength to deal with life's challenges and it is the secret of success. Daily learning also influences the surroundings, for them to be full of moral and sacred values in the everyday life.
 

Settlement or dominance and discouragement

Parsha and its Implementation - Parashat Vayetze - Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald - 5769

The text describes the meeting between Jacob and Rachel at the well: " … Rachel came with her father's sheep; for she tended them. And continues… And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept.  And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother, and that he was Rebekah's son… (Genesis 29, 9-12). According to Chazal, it is already here that Yaakov is "proposing" to Rachel to marry him:

"He said to her: מינסבת לי? (would you marry me?) אמרה ליה: אין! מיהו אבא רמאה הוא ולא יכלת ליה (Yes, but my father is a fraud and will not be able to). אמר לה: מאי רמאותיה? (He said, what is his deceit) אמרה ליה: אית לי אחתא דקשישא מינאי, ולא מנסבא לי מקמה (I have a sister older than me and will not marry me before her)) אמר לה: אחיו אני ברמאות! I can also cheat). אמרה ליה: ומי שרי להו לצדיקי לסגויי ברמאותא? (Is it permissible for the righteous to be deceitful? אין! . ((Yes, since it is written): "With the pure Thou dost show Thyself pure; and with the crooked Thou dost show Thyself subtle. " (II Samuel 22:27), and a previous verse says: " With the merciful Thou dost show Thyself merciful, with the upright man Thou dost show Thyself upright". In other words, with an honest man, you have to behave honestly and with a deceitful person you have to behave accordingly as not to fall into his net.

From the very first moment Yaakov understands who Lavan is. And how he should be handled. Lavan is the master of manipulation and deceit who did not hesitate to cross red lines and "sanctify all means" in order to realize his own interests. Jacob was an innocent man but not naive! If necessary, he can conduct himself 'his brother in deceit'. Jacob's basic assumption was that Lavan would not abide by the agreement and would violate it as soon as it would serve his interests. In an agreement with Lavan, he had to provide an effective response to his fraud. Yaakov entered into an agreement from the beginning with his hands on the bottom, as 'lacking everything' who came to a foreign country and asks for a home. Jacob's options were limited. Lavan was in a position of control and Yaakov has no means of deterrence. So, he gives signs between himself and Rachel and brings to the agreement a detailed and precise definition: "your youngest daughter Rachel". (See Rashi, Genesis 29:18).

Despite it all, he managed to deceive him, and Jacob learned his lesson from this when he ran away from him at the end of the Parashah.

These things take on a current significance in light of what is happening this week in Gaza. Hamas is a terrorist organization with a fundamentalist Islamist ideology. Its purpose is not only control of Gaza and Judea and Samaria, but also the destruction of the State of Israel - the 'occupation' within the borders of the 1948 borders. Throughout the years, the State of Israel has held the position that there is no negotiation with a terrorist organization.

The pursuit of the current arrangement is a strategic change of policy. Which legitimizes de facto Hamas as a sovereign state. The 'arrangement' puts the State of Israel and Hamas on the same plane. Even though the State of Israel is in a position of control and Israel has a huge strategic advantage. According to supporters of the arrangement, the alternative to Hamas will be worse. Even though this is a claim that cannot be proven.

But they also believe that if Hamas is a sovereign body, we should deal with them the way we fight a country, not a non-state organization. According to Hamas' Islamist conception, the 'settlement' and' hudna' in the first place were meant to be only' time-outs' in order to reorganize themselves for the next opportunity, and it is permissible and even necessary to deceive the enemy. On the other hand, the State of Israel will undoubtedly stand by every sign of the agreement, and the world will examine every move we make.

They also believe that the State of Israel, which has the power, must produce painful concessions in any agreement that will deter Hamas from breaking the agreement.

Only then is there a chance that the agreement will be respected over time.

Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald

For the “Yeadim Nifgashim” for Shabbat Vayetze

Yaakov Returned to the Beit Midrash of Shem and Ever.
The Midrash Rabbah on the Parsha tells us that while Yaakov was on his way to Haran, he returned to the Beit Midrash of Shem and Ever for another fourteen years, and only afterwards Yaakov proceeded to Haran. Our sages teach us that Yaakov had already studied there in his youth, as the previous Parsha says: "The boys grew up and Esav became a hunter, a man of the field. And Yaakov an honest man, a dweller of tents." The Midrash Rabba explains: Two tents-the Beit Midrash of Shem and the Beit Midrash of Ever. So the question arises: Why did Yaakov return to the Beit Midrash of Shem and Ever? And why just now?
Yitzchak and Rivka sent Yaakov to his uncle Lavan to marry one of his daughters and start his own family. And not just any family, but the family that will be the foundation for Am Israel!
The Midrash calculates that Yaakov was sixty-three years old at the time. So why didn't he go straight to Lavan?
There is someone who would like to explain that Yaakov's reason for going to the Beit Midrash of Shem an Ever was to hide from Esav. But in our Beit Midrash we explain this differently.
Yaakov had a great, far-reaching purpose to return to the Beit Midrash of Shem and Ever. Yaakov went to Haran in order to turn the family of Avraham and Yitzchak into a nation. The Chosen People is entering a new era and is starting on a new path. For this, we have to undergo a transformation in our form of leadership: from the leadership of a family to the leadership of a nation. Every time Am Israel reaches a new stage in its national life, we have to clarify our direction: what we must do and how must we do it. For Am Israel, this clarification comes from one source: from the Torah. This requires deep, intensive and comprehensive Torah study. For this purpose Yaakov returned to the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever for another fourteen years – to learn the Torah of the nation.
In our yeshiva, we learn from this the strategic role of Torah study and its clarifications, as the starting point for mapping out our steps as a nation, our steps toward the future. Our goal in our Beit Midrash is for our students to build themselves in Torah, not only as individuals but also knowing what Am Israel needs as a nation and a State. This is a very special kind of Torah study.
Yaakov's prophetic vision.
We also learn about Yaakov's special journey from his prophetic dream, about "Jacob's ladder."
After Yaakov left the Beit Midrash of Shem and Ever, he continued to Beit El, where he had the dream of the ladder that reaches the sky, and angels going up and down.
This dream is actually Yaakov's prophetic vision: for the near and distant future; for himself, for Am Israel end for the world. This is Yaakov's strategic vision - his plan of action for the future.
Some of our sages explain the vision of the ladder as predicting that Yaakov will be the third father, completing thetrilogy of the "Avot".
There are those who explain that Yaakov foresaw Moshe, G-d's angel, ascending and descending Mount Sinai.
Others interpret the vision as the altar of Beit Hamikdash, where the Kohanim ascend and descend.
Still others say that Yaakov foresaw the future of Beit Hamikdash – that it will be built and destroyed.
There is an explanation that Yaakov foresaw the history of the world – that the nations and their leaders will go up on the center stage of history, make their mark, and then sink into oblivion. And only Am Israel will rise up and never descend.
The Rambam and Rabbeinu Nissim– explained that the angels are actually prophets and lofty men who ascend to heaven to the spiritual world, but have to descend to this world in order to radiate their positive influence. And this way they connect heaven and earth, the spiritual world with the physical world.
What the fathers did is a sign for the sons. We have to learn from Yaakov to develop a strategic vision, and not see only the here and now.

The Need for a Forward-Looking Strategic Approach.
Authentic leadership, generally, and in the national-religious community specifically, must develop its own forward-looking strategic view; a long-term vision. The Jewish ideal is grand and long-term, and we must ask where we wish to see ourselves and Israeli society as a whole, in ten years or more. This strategic conclusion must be translated into initiatives – an operational plan, detailing what must be done directly and indirectly in order to achieve the goal. Otherwise, we will continue to find ourselves on the defensive, constantly involved in creating bulwarks and putting out fires, in response to challenges and directives initiated by others, and in attempts, at damage control.
We will not list here our past and current failures caused by a lack of any long-term strategic vision, or by allocating resources in the wrong direction, distracting us from obvious needs.
We were privileged to witness an example of strategic vision when our teacher, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, zt”l, focused attention on the consequences of the settlement enterprise for the future of the State of Israel. Or when Rabbi Neriya, zt”l, founded the network of yeshivas and ulpanot as a future infrastructure for the spiritual-moral underpinnings of religious-Zionism in the Land of Israel. Or in the strategic vision of Rabbi Soloveitchik, zt”l, when he created the model for combining religion and modernity in the United States.
“It was an act of charity for the world when the Holy One, blessed be He, did not allocate all skills to one place or to one nation….” (Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, Orot, 152)
We are called upon to develop a religious-Zionist strategic dialogue to address the challenges of the future. And the sooner, the better.

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