What does it really mean to be “shomer Shabbos”?

As Yaakov Avinu prepared for their showdown, he sent Eisav a critical message: “Im Lavan garti–With Lavan I have lived (B’reishis 32:5). Rashi points out that the Hebrew word garti has the numerical value of 613, hinting to “taryag mitzvos shamarti.” In other words, Yaakov was warning Eisav that despite the decades he spent living in the house of the evil Lavan, he had remained observant of all the mitzvos. This merit would protect Yaakov from any attacks Eisav may have been planning.

What lesson can we “draw” from Rivkah’s well?

It was a shidduch at first sight. Even before Eliezer could put Rivkah to his test – to see if she would offer water to his camels – he already seemed certain that she was Yitzchak’s bashert. After all, Eliezer ran toward Rivkah after simply observing her fill her pitcher (B’reishis 24:16-17). What made him so confident that she was “the one”?

It takes two to fight!

In an image often featured in Parshas VaYeitzei projects, Yaakov Avinu lay down to sleep with twelve small stones surrounding his head, but then awoke to find one big boulder for a pillow. Chazal have a tradition that each stone fought for the honor of supporting the tzadik’s head; when the fighting reached a deadlock, Hashem miraculously combined all the rocks into one (Rashi, B’reishis 28:11).

Avraham’s nisayon was even more impressive than you remember!

Parshas VaYeira contains one of the most challenging episodes in Jewish history: Akeidas Yitzchak. While even the thought of facing such a test would make any regular person tremble, Avraham was able to pass with flying colors. However, Avraham’s successful completion of his nisayon is only half of the story, just one element of his righteousness.

What we notice about others can be “soup-er” revealing about ourselves!

You might think that Eisav was known as “Edom” (red) due to the ruddy skin tone with which he was born (B’reishis 25:25). However, the Torah explicitly says otherwise. It was not until 15 years later, when Eisav referred to Yaakov’s lentil soup as “the very red stuff,” that Eisav earned this national name in perpetuity (25:30).

“Each person according to his praise.” (Mishlei 27:21)

The conventional understanding of the above proverb is that we can discern a person’s true character from which of his qualities stand out to others, the praises they choose to share about him. It’s nice for a person to consider himself to be thoughtful and generous, but it is the perspective of those around him that is most telling. The impact he leaves on others is what will ultimately determine a person’s legacy. This is the classic approach to the verse (see Rashi, Metzudos, ad loc.).