hebrew
1)

What were the Terafim?

1.

Targum Yonasan, Pirkei d'R. Eliezer 36, Tanchuma 12): They were images consisting of a head that had been severed from a firstborn son whom they had slaughtered. They would then boil it with salt and spices, and place under its tongue a golden plate on which they had written incantations. 1 Finally, they would affix it to a wall and it would speak to them and tell them the future. 2 This was actually the god that Lavan worshipped. 3

2.

Sechel Tov: They are an idolatry used to gather things (through witchcraft


1

Indeed, Lavan was a sorcerer (See above, 30:27), and his country (which was also the home-country of 'Bil'am the sorcerer'), were renowned for their sorcery (See Ramban).

2

As was customary in those days. However, the information that they gave was not always accurate. (See Rashbam, and see Ramban for more details.)

3

Though not all Terafim were worshipped (See Ramban).

2)

Why did Rachel steal the Terafim?

1.

Rashi: She stole them to stop her father from worshipping idols. 1

2.

Rashbam: She stole them so that they would not divulge their plans to run away.

3.

Moshav Zekenim, Hadar Zekenim, Da'as Zekenim, Ha'Emek Davar (from Pirkei d'R. Eliezer 36): It was lest they reveal that (Malbim


1

Moshav Zekenim questions this, for he could make new idols. (This is not difficult according the opinion that they are from the head of a slaughtered human Bechor - refer to 31:19:1:1 - PF.) R. S. R. Hirsh (based on Avodah Zarah 41b) - she expected him to reason - if they cannot guard themselves, how can they save others?!

2

Refer to 31:34:151:1,2.

3)

Why does the Torah say that he had gone to shear his flock?

1.

Ha'Emek Davar: It is a time of Simchah and a family feast, so everyone in Lavan's house went. It was an opportune time (Malbim

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