What was the merit of Lavan that he was zocheh to have such good daughters?
And the answer is that Lavan, you must know, came of a very fine family. And Lavan himself was a man of good character. When we say Lavan is called a rasha it’s only because he didn’t utilize his opportunities. According to his family, Lavan should have been much better. And he would have been better, if not for the fact that Hashem put him to big tests.
Imagine you’re a tzaddik, but you have a son-in-law, a poor son-in-law, and you take him to your business. And you pay him not such a big salary. But you see that he’s making now some very big financial progress. From the little bit that you paid him he’s getting wealthy. And now he’s even outdoing you. And he’s becoming so big that now you’re nothing compared to him. You have to bemamesh a tzaddik nifla not to be jealous of him. When Lavan saw how Yaakov Avinu began acquiring Lavan’s sheep, and according to the bargain Yaakov was supposed to get only the abnormal sheep. Sheep are born white usually. Sheep with stripes and dots and different colors are a rarity. And of all a sudden there was an epidemic of colors in the sheep. And Lavan, his eyes are popping out. He saw that Yaakov, his son-in-law was spreading far and wide. You have to be a tzaddik nifla in order to resist such a temptation. And he couldn’t be omed b’nisayon.
So he’s called a sinner only in comparison to, first of all, what he could have been. He had a good family, he came from Avraham Avinu’s family. A very fine family you must know. And secondly, when he had a tzaddik like Yaakov Avinu as son-in-law, he should have utilized the opportunity and he should have learned from him. But instead he became jealous of him. Now we can’t blame him too much, but he’s blamed only in comparison to what he could have been.
Now, because they were such a fine family, that’s why Hakadosh Baruch Hu put these two precious souls, Rochel and Leah, and also Bilhah and Zilpah as we mentioned before, in that family. They were all brought up with tznius. They were all brought up with good manners and derech eretz. Avraham’s family was a good family. When Avraham told Eliezer, his servant, to go down to Padan Aram and to choose a wife for his son Yitzchak, he knew what he was talking about. It wasn’t just partiality to his family. He knew that you could find good material there. If Hakadosh Baruch Hu planned a mate for his son, it was surely from that family where he came from. Sarah was also his family. Sarah was a relative of his. And therefore, it was that family that possessed virtues that made them distinguished.
TAPE # 526 (October 1984)