par58010.doc fulfilling the wishes of his mother, Rivka, who feared that Eisav would
בס " ד kill Yaakov if he remained. In going to Haran, Yaakov was fulfilling the
PARSHAT HASHAVUA wishes of his father, Yitzchak, who sent him there to find a suitable
wife. The verse tells us of Yaakov's departure from Be'er Sheva AND
PARSHA : VAYEITZEI his journey to Haran, to show us that it was important to satisfy the
wishes of BOTH his parents.
Date : 7 Kislev,5758 6-12-97 He encounters "The Place" (it is (unidentified in the text, but is
“The Best of Parshat HaShavuah” Articles taken from list traditionally considered to be Har Moriah, the site of the Akeida, and
subscriptions on the internet, edited, reformatted and printed for the location of the future Beit HaMikdash) and stays the night. He
members of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu (Editor: Arieh Yarden) dreams of a ladder with its feet planted in the ground and whose top
Please respect the Holiness of these pages reaches the heavens.
Angels are ascending and descending the ladder.
Dedicated to the loving memory of Avi Mori [sdt] The S'fat Emet points out that the ladder in Yaakov's dream is
Moshe Reuven ben Yaakov z”l described first as having its feet planted on the ground (representing
worldliness and/or basic decency) and then its head reaching the
Internet address: firstname.lastname@example.org heavens (representing spiritual pursuits). This is consisten t with the
For credits & copy right notices please see last page. maxim from Pirkei Avot - Derech Eretz Kodma laTorah, worldliness
1 - TORAH TIDBITS (Israel Center) [sdt] This represents the "Changing of the Guard". Angels that accom
DEJA VU panied Yaakov in Eretz Yisrael are not the same as those outside Israel,
Literally, it means "already seen". (The psychological experience known just as Shabbat angels differ from those of weekdays. Our weekly
as deja vu is having the mistaken notion that what you are expe riencing counterpart to Yaakov's dream is the Friday night song, Shalom
now has happened to you in the past. The title of this comment takes the Aleichem, which refers to the changing of the angels.
literal meaning of the French words...) In our Jewish experience, we Commentaries point out that G-d was "standing watch" over Yaakov
would use the phrase: MAASEI AVOT SIMAN L'BANIM - the deeds of because there was a gap between the ascension of the angels and the
the ancestors is a sign (sets a pattern) for the children. descending of the new ones - OLIM V'YORDIM BO.
Call it what you want, there is a pattern unfolding before our eyes Interestingly, on Friday night, we sing SHALOM ALEICHEM,
that requires us to sit up and take notice. And perhaps, DO welcoming the Shabbat angels, and THEN we bid fairwell to the
SOMETHING ABOUT IT. weekday angels with TZEITCHEM L'SHALOM, so we'll have an
In the weekly sedras at this time of the year, we read of the earliest overlap, rather than a gap.
problems of the pre-nation family of Israel. Last week, we read of A person should realize that wealth is not permanent; it can be lost as
Yaakov's troubles with Eisav. This week, we read of his problems with easily as it is gained. Therefore, if one is blessed with wealth, he
Lavan. Blood relationships aside, we view Eisav and Lavan as two should use it wisely, constructively, charitably. This idea is symbolized
prototypes of Israel's enemies. In the upcoming weeks we will read of by the ladder, and the ups and downs that take place on it - the
the internal friction and struggles of the family of Israel - the clash of SULAM, with the angels OLIM V'YORDIM BO. SULAM (ladder) is
Yosef and his brothers. numerically 60+6+30+40=136. MAMON (money) is also
Having arrived in the month of Kislev, our thoughts turn towards 40+40+6+50=136. And so is ONI (poverty) 70+6+50+10=136.
Chanuka. Chanuka is a perfect example (unfortunately) of the same two More on 136: KOL, voice (prayer) and TZOM, fasting are also equal to
types of Jewish experiences - the clashes and battles with the Greeks 136, perhaps saying that prayer and petition of G- d can be effective in
and their culture, and the internal strife between Jews who wanted to resulting in a blessing of wealth rather than one's being poor.
Hellenize and those who wanted to maintain the unique aspects of In the dream, G-d appears to Yaakov from the head of the ladder and
Judaism and remain completely faithful to Jewish Law and Tradition. reiterates to him the promises made to Avraham and Yitzchak. These
Although our Sages downplayed the Jew- Jew fighting in the oft- repeated promises have consistently included the possession of the
formulation of the observance of Chanuka, it was a serious, tragic Land and the "countless" nature of their descendants. This prophecy
aspect of the Chanuka experience. also includes G-d's promise of protection for Yaakov on his sojourn.
In our own time, we are involved with both types of clashes. Despite Yaakov awakens from his sleep and acknowledges the sanctity of the
attempts at achieving peace in the Middle East, we still find the Arabs location. When Yaakov awakens in the morning, he takes the stone
both within and without our borders more or less antagonistic (to put it (formerly referred to in the plural) that was at his head, and erects it as
mildly) towards us. The spiritual heirs of Eisav and Lavan are still hard a monument which he then anoints. He names the place Beit El. Yaakov
at it. vows allegiance to G-d.
Regarding the times on the front page. Where a range of times is [sdt] The Shulchan Aruch, based on the Midrash, says that a person
given, it covers the period from Thursday to Thursday. Single times do should/can take a vow or make a pledge to increase and enhance
not change in that range of days. Candle lighting and Havdala times are performance of mitzvot and giving of tzedaka during troubled times.
not for the range; they are for the current Shabbat only. The precedent for this is Yaakov's vows at this "low point" in his life.
Even "friends", while expressing their sympathy, a re making [sdt] The Rambam says that the prayers of a congregation are always
demands upon us that can have disastrous effects. heard by G-d. (There is no similar guarantee for the individual.)
At the same time, we read in the papers this week of the plans by Congregational prayer is more powerful than private praye r. This idea
the Reform movement to build 7 new centers at a cost of $34 million. is symbolized by the words in a verse from this sedra. "VAYIKATZ
The enthusiasm of contributors from abroad and the eager coo peration YAAKOV MISH'NATO VAYOMER (and Yaakov awoke from his
of some government officials here is a reminder of that other kind of sleep)..." The final letters of these four words spell the word TZIBUR
troubles we face. (congregation). The verse continues: "and he said, sure ly G-d is in this
Sadly, many Jews do not sense a threat from either direction. They place..." When there is a TZIBUR, G-d is there... and listening.
see Lavan's smiling face, his emotional soliloquy on brotherhood and [sdt] "And I will return to my father's home and HaShem will be for me
who(m) is due what, they see Eisav's embrace and handshake without G-d." The Ramban explains the connection between Yaakov's return
seeming to notice that the PNC has not been changed and that Lavan's home with his "acquisition of G-d". The Gemara in Ketuvot states that
and Eisav's (and Yishmael's) children remain hostile to us, to say the he who lives in Eretz Yisrael is like one who has G-d; he who lives
least. outside Israel is like one without G-d. Yaakov's return from Lavan's
The State of Israel might be approaching its 50th birthday, but house back to his father's was a physical as well as spiritual Aliya - as
Jewish Israel is 3270 old and G-d's promise of this Land to us is almost is Aliya today for many people.
500 years older than that. Judaism is over 3300 years old, with its LEVI - Second Aliya - 17 p'sukim (29:1-17)
origins more than 3800 years old. We must all see what people from Assured of G-d's protection upon leaving the Land (something that
outside and inside are trying to tamper with. Yaakov had reason to be unsure of), his pace quickens. Yaakov sees a
SEDRA STATS well in the field, with three flocks of sheep gathered around. The well is
7th of 54 sedras in the Torah covered by a large rock. It was the practice of the shepher ds to gather at
7th of 12 in B'reishit the well at the same time each day so that they would have the
148 p'sukim - rank: 6th (3rd in B'reishit) manpower necessary to remove the rock and then replace it after the
Note: the 3 longest sedras (in p'sukim) are from BaMidbar; the next
sheep were watered. Yaakov asks the shepherds who they are and why
6 are from B'reishit. Counting words and letters, 4 of the top 6 in they gather so early in the afternoon to water the sheep. When they tell
the Torah are in B'reishit him that they work for Lavan, Yaakov asks about his well-being. The
2021 words - ranks 4th (3rd) shepherds point out the approaching Rachel, daughter of Lavan. They
7512 letters - ranks 5th (3rd) explain to Yaakov that they must cooperate with each other in order to
Vayetze contains none of the 613 mitzvot physically remove the stone. Just then, Yaakov sees Rachel, his cousin,
Specifically, NASO is the longest sedra in all 3 categories. Pinchas, and approaches the rock and single- handedly removes it from the
BaMidbar, No'ach, and Vayishlach all have more p'sukim than mouth of the well in order to give drink to the sheep of his uncle.
Vayeitzei, but have fewer words. On the other hand, Vayeira and Yaakov kisses Rachel and weeps bitterly. (He weeps because he sees
Mikeitz have more words than Vayeitzei, but fewer p'sukim. Sedras with Ru'ach HaKodesh that they are destined not to be buried together.)
vary in length of p'sukim. This accounts for shifts in rankings between Yaakov tells Rachel who he is - what their relationship is - and she runs
p'sukim and words. (There is less of a variation between words and off to tell her father. When Lavan hears, he runs out to welcome
letters.) Yaakov, and brings him home to tell "the whole story". Lavan "offers"
ALIYA-BY-ALIYA SEDRA SUMMARY Yaakov a job and tells him "to name his price". Lavan had two
KOHEN - First Aliya - 13 p'sukim (28:10-22) daughters - Leah the older one and Rachel the younger one. Leah had
Yaakov leaves Be'er Sheva and goes to Haran. "weak" (sensitive) eyes and Rachel was exceedingly beautiful.
[sdt] There are different explanations in the "M'forshim" concerning SH'LISHI - 3rd Aliya - 31 p'sukim (29:18-30:13)
the wording of this pasuk. As to why the Torah mentions Yaakov's Yaakov loves Rachel and offers to work for seven years in exchange for
departure, Rashi explains that a prominent person not only influences her hand in marriage. Lavan agrees and the time flies by in Yaakov's
his surroundings, but his absence from a place is also felt, in a eyes because of his great excitement. At the end of the seven years,
negative way. Therefore, the Torah not only tells us that Yaakov went Yaakov asks that the marriage take place.
to Haran; it also tells us that he left Be'er Sheva, and his absence was Lavan gathers the locals for the festiv ities and substitutes Leah for
felt - even though Yitzchak remained there. Rachel.
Another explanation - In leaving Be'er Sheva, Yaakov was 1 [sdt] Sources indicate that it was Rachel who facilitated the
switch, motivated by love and compassion for her sister. Rachel gave our Sages tell us, is tantamount to a prohibition on referring to him as
her private "signals" to Leah in order to save her from a probable anything other than Avraham. Yitzchak, on the other hand, keeps his
marriage to Eisav, Yitzchak's biological elder son. The compassion of birth-name throughout his life and beyond. Yaakov Avinu receives a
Rachel's serves her descendants well many years later, when she supplementary name - Yisrael - which accompanies his original name
"intercedes" before G-d following the destruction of the Temple. throughout Tanach.
Tradition tells us that G-d "softened" the punishment with a promise of Commentaries explain that Avraham's original name was given to
return from exile, only after Rachel pleaded before Him. The Avot and him by his idol-worshipping father. It is inappropriate for that name to
Moshe had not similarly succeeded in their pleas on behalf of the survive the dynamic development of Avraham as the premier patriarchs
people. of the Jewish People. He is to us, forever, Avraham, the name that G -d
When Yaakov confronts Lavan about the deceit, Lavan says that it is gave him.
improper to marry off the younger before the older. Yitzchak was named by G-d. With this source for his name,
Yaakov agrees to work an additional seven years for Rachel. Zilpa and Yitzchak needs no other.
Bilha are the handmaidens of Leah and Rachel respectively. Yaakov Yaakov was named by his father Yitzchak. This name he can retain.
showed his obviously greater love of Rachel. As a result, G-d made G-d, through the angel who wrestled with Yaakov, and reconfirmed by
Leah fertile and Rachel barren. G-d Himself, gave Yaakov the additional name of Yisrael. Both names -
Next the Torah tells us, in rapid succession, of the births of Reuven, with different connotations - continue to be used.
Shimon, Levi, and Yehuda. Leah names each son (Levi was named by Some sources say that Leah was a prophetess. They point to the
Yaakov or perhaps by an angel) with a name that expresses her thanks namings of her third and fourth sons, Levi and Yehuda. Rashi brings a
to G-d and her feelings under the unusual circumstances of her life. Midrash that explains that Leah knew that Yaakov was destined to have
Rachel, jealous of Leah, complains to Yaakov that she has no children. twelve sons. She, therefore, expressed the hope that her husband would
Yaakov gets angry with her, saying that it is G-d's doing that she is cling to her because of the birth of Levi, which represented her one -
barren. fourth share of Yaakov's children. With Yehuda she thanks G-d for
Rachel gives Bilha to Yaakov to have children whom she will rai se as allowing her to exceed her share.
her own. Dan and Naftali are born. Leah, realizing that she has stopped (The Gemara applauds Leah for being the first person since
having children, gives Zilpa to Yaakov. Gad and Asher are the results. Creation to joyfully thank G-d for the abundance he blessed her with.)
Notice the rapid fashion the Torah employs to tell us of the build -up of Along the same lines, Leah's prayer that she should not have a
Yaakov's family. With Avraham and Yitzchak having such a difficult seventh son, which would mean that her sister Rachel would be shamed
time fathering children, Yaakov has fathered 10 sons in the span of 16 by bearing fewer sons than the "maidservants", is expressed in the name
R'VI'I - 4th Aliya - 14 p'sukim (30:14-27) (Generally, when a woman is already pregnant - especially after 40
Rachel begs Reuven to give her the special (fertility) herbs that he had days from conception - it is considered improper to pray for a boy or
gathered for his mother, Leah. When Leah complains to her, Rachel girl. Commentaries point out that this case was an exception, and that
promises that Yaakov could sleep with her that night in exchange for G-d responded to Leah's prayer on behalf of Rachel's honor, and
the herbs. When Yaakov returns from the fields, it is Leah who goes out miraculously changed the sex of Leah's foetus.)
to greet him. G-d answers Leah's prayers of despair, and she gives birth The names of our ancestors, and who named them, often give us
to Yissachar and then Zevulun. Then Leah gives birth to a girl, Dina. insights into their lives and provide us with food for thought. And, on a
Finally, G-d "remembers" Rachel and she too becomes pregnant. She practical level, when we are in the position of naming our children, we
gives birth and names her son Yosef, praying that she will have yet should also take into consideration the meaning of the name, the family
another son (giving her at least not fewer sons than th e handmaidens members with the same name, and (when applicable) the biblical
had). personalities associated with the name. Names mean something.
When Yosef is born, Yaakov finally asks his leave of Lavan. He desires G'MATRIYA = 3 + 40 + 9 + 200 + 10 + 1 = 263 (R. Orbach z"l)
to return to his fathers' home. He asks for his wives, children, and G-d says to Yaakov: "I am HaShem, the G-d of Avraham your father
compensation for all the work he has done for Lavan. Lavan and the G-d of Yitzchak, the land upon which you lie, to you it will be
acknowledges that he has been blessed because of Yaakov. given and to your descendants." The initial letters of this phrase add up
CHAMISHI - 5th Aliya 32 p'sukim (30:28-31:16) as follows: 1+10+1+1+1+6+10+5+1+1+300+70+30+1+6 = 444.
They make an arrangement by which Yaakov will receive his wages. And where specifically WAS Yaakov lying? The place of the future
Lavan repeatedly attempts to minimize the births of the goats and sheep MIKDASH = 40+100+4+300 = 444.
that will be Yaakov's. G-d has other plans and Yaakov becomes very And if you take the whole verse (not just the phrase), adding the
wealthy. The details of the speckled, banded, spotted animals and how first words of the verse: "And G-d was standing atop that ladder...", this
which gave birth to what, is very obscure. The bottom line is that Lavan adds the letters 6+10+50+70+6 = 142 to bring the total for the verse to
attempts to cheat Yaakov (again) and is com pletely unsuccessful. 586, the numeric value of Yerushalayim (as it is usually spelled in
Lavan's sons feel as if Yaakov has cheated their father. G-d tells Tanach) = 10+200+6+300+30+40 = 586.
Yaakov to return to his birthplace. Yaakov calls to his wives and [sdt] The Torah makes a point of telling us that Yaak ov called for
explains the situation to them. He Rachel and Leah to come to the field so that he could discuss their
Vayeitzei impending departure with them. The Gemara quotes Rabbi Akiva as
tells them of being instructed by an angel as to what to do with the noticing with admiration those who seek counsel in fields. Rashi
animals. Rachel and Leah feel as strangers in their father's house and explains that Yaakov sought the counsel of hi s wives, specifically in the
are prepared to do as G-d commands. field, because "it is well-known among people that walls have ears".
SHISHI - Sixth Aliya - 26 p'sukim (31:17-42) [sdt] This inadvertently dooms Rachel to an early death. One
Yaakov prepares to leave. Meanwhile, Rachel takes her father's commentary suggests that Yaakov's punishment for this was exile to
teraphim in his absence. When Lavan becomes aware of Yaakov's Egypt, similar to the Torah's punishment of exile to a city of refuge for
departure, he sets out in pursuit. G-d appears to Lavan in a dream and inadvertent homicide. This fits with the verse, quoted in the Hagada,
warns him not to harm Yaakov in any way. When Lavan catches up to ANOOS AL PI HADIBUR.
Yaakov, he confronts him about the unannounced departure and the HAFTARA - 28* verses - Hoshea 12:13-14:10
missing teraphim. Yaakov answers in kind, expressing his anger at * S'faradim read the previous 17 verses (11:7 -12:12) They read
Lavan's repeated attempts to cheat Yaakov. As to the teraphim, Yaakov from 12:13 on Shabbat Parshat Vayishlach (when Ashkenazim will read
permits Lavan to search for them and boldly declares that the one who the book(let) of Ovadiya).
took them shall not live. Lavan fails to find his teraphim because * Some suggest concluding the haftara with Yoel 2:26 -27, in order
Rachel convinces him not to search her person or belongi ngs. Had it not to end the haftara on a better note than Hoshea ends with.
been for G-d's protection, Yaakov tells Lavan, you would have left me This concluding portion of the book(let) of Hoshea begins with
with nothing. reference to Yaakov's journey to Aram to find (and work on behalf of) a
SH'VI'I - 7th Aliya - 15 p'sukim (31:43-32:3) wife (wives) - hence its connection to the sedra. The prophet points out
Lavan answers that the women are his daughters, that the children are to the People of Israel their humble origins in an attempt to put things
his children, and the animals are his as well. Yaakov and Lavan make a in perspective and restore their faith and reliance upon G-d.
pact and form a mound of rocks as a sign of their agreement. Yaakov Hoshea is the first of the 12 "minor" prophets which comprise the
offers a sacrifice to G-d and swears to the covenant. In the morning, book known as "Trei-Asar". The term "minor" does not refer to the
Lavan kisses his children and grandchildren, blesses them, and returns value of the prophet or his prophecies, but rather to the length of the
home. Yaakov continues on his journey and encounters angels (of Eretz book. These twelve book(let)s are written together in one scroll to
Yisrael - the sedra thus comes full circle) on the way. Yaakov names the prevent their being lost. The combined 12 booklets constitute one of the
place Machanayim. 3 verses are reread for the Maftir. 24 books of the Tanach, the last of the 8 books of the Prophets
HAFTARA - 28* p'sukim - Hoshea 12:13-14:10 (Nevi'im) section.
* S'faradim read differently [sdt] Lavan is referred to (29:5) as Lavan b. Nachor, when he was
* Some suggest concluding the haftara with Yoel 2:26 -27, in order to actually the son of B'tuel and the grandson of Nachor. One commentary
end the haftara on a better note than Hoshea ends with. suggests that Nachor was well-known; B'tuel was not, so Yaakov
This concluding portion of the book(let) of Hoshea begins with inquired about Lavan b. Nachor in the hopes that the shepherds would
reference to Yaakov's journey to Aram to find (and work on behalf of) a be able to give him the desired information (and not say "never heard of
wife (wives) - hence its connection to the sedra. The prophet points out him"). Torah T'mima (the original TT) quotes the Midrash that says
to the People of Israel their humble origins in an attempt to put things from here we learn that if a person's father is wicked, we use the
in perspective and restore their faith and reliance upon G-d. grandfather's name when calling him to the Torah.
WHAT'S IN A NAME? The Gemara tells us to look at the words for TRUTH and
Biblical names are filled with meaning and provide us with insights into FALSEHOOD and in them see something about the words AND the
the lives of our ancestors. Additionally, they provide us with lessons concepts they represent. The letters of EMET imagine cutting the letters
that we can translate into our lives as Jews. out of a block of wood and standing them up - look at ALEF, MEM,
In Parshat Vayetze we read of the births of eleven of Yaakov's sons TAV. See how firmly they stand. Now look at SHIN (which in
(Binyamin's comes later) and his daughter Dina. The name each Ashkenazi Torah Script comes to a point), KUF, REISH. Try standing
received is accompanied by its meaning. Gemara & Midrashim often FALSEHOOD up. It will topple over. Look at how well-balanced
supply other reasons for the names. The same applies to the names of TRUTH is:
the Patriarchs and other biblical personalities. ALEF is at the beginning of the AlefBet, MEM is in the center, and
Avraham Avinu underwent a name-change from Avram. The TAV is at the end. A very sturdy, stable arrangement. The letters
Torah emphasizes that he shall no longer be called Avram - this, 2 of SHEKER are clustered at the end of the AlefBet - very
unbalanced. the Midrash we have quoted is concerned with Yaacov's prayers during
Lavan tells Yakov: We are of the same bone & flesh". The Gema ra his travel, and for him the sun set first, before the sunrise. In this case,
says that a father gives his offspring their sinew and bone; the mother his prayer was a request and not a thankful praise.
gives the flesh and blood. Lavan and Yaakov were related through SCIENCE AND THE TORAH PORTION: Yaacov and the Laws of
BOTH of Yaakov's parents: they were second cousins through Avraham Heredity
& Nachor and uncle/nephew thru Rivka. (Vilna Gaon ) by Idit Gamliel
Mishlei says: Grace is deceitful and beauty is vain; a G-d- fearing An Austrian monk, the scientist Mendel, discovered the laws of
woman, she is praise worthy. Yet Sara, Rivka, and Rachel were all heredity more than 100 years ago. However, according to Prof.
described as beautiful. Says the GR"A, when there is no fear of G-d, Yehudah Felix in his book "Nature and the Land in the Tanach,"
then the grace and the beauty are worthless. But with Yir'at HaShem, Yaacov already knew this law of nature from the angel who came to
then the grace & beauty are also praiseworthy. him in a dream. Thus, while he displayed patterns on wooden sticks to
Lavan's sheep, this was only a ruse in order to give the appearance of
2 - SHABBAT B’SHABBATO (Tzomet) using them to influence the outcome.
SHEPHERDS OF THE NATION IN CONFLICT According to this theory, Yaacov had knowledge of the role played
by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, Rabbi of Beit El and Head of Yeshivat by recessive genes among the sheep. He was also aware of the fact that
Ateret Kohanim heterogeneity can increase potency, such that those with recessive traits
"We cannot (water our cattle) until all the flocks are gathered, and tend to be more fertile than the others. Once he was able to identify the
the stone can be rolled away from the mouth of the well" [Bereishit more potent males, he gave them to the first females in heat, and he
29:8]. Why did they make it hard for themselves? Why didn't they use a was thus able to extract a large flock of spotted and marked sheep from
smaller stone which could be moved by a single shepherd? According the original sheep, which were uniformly white.
to Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsh, the shepherds did not trust each POINT OF VIEW: Two Camps in Yeshivat Mercaz Harav
other, "and each one suspected that the others would take more than his by Rabbi Yisrael Rozen
fair share." They therefore used a heavy stone, in order to maintain "This is a camp of G-d. And he called that place Machanayim (a
control of the well. double camp)" [Bereishit 32:3].
Unfortunately, there is a similar mistrust by the spiritual leaders of The division which has occurred in Yeshivat Mercaz Harav is a
our nation. The era of the arrival of the Mashiach is described in the burning issue both within religious Zionism and on the outside. A
somber verse, "And the truth will be missing" [Yeshayahu 59:15]. This group of teachers left the yeshiva in anger and established a new
is explained by the sages to mean, "they will be separated into flocks" school: the Har Hamor Yeshiva, also in Jerusalem. After hesitating and
[Sanhedrin 97a] (based on the Hebrew root "eider," which appears in much soul-searching about whether to raise this subject, I realized that
both the words for "missing" and for "flock"). Every faction has part of it would be unreasonable for a weekly column devoted to current events
the truth, but only the whole taken together contains the entire truth to simply ignore difficult and unpleasant topics.
(the Hebrew word "emet" spans the alphabet, starting with aleph, the Although I am not a graduate of Mercaz, I have spent much time
first letter, and ending with the last letter, tav, with the middle letter, there and I have learned much from many of its rabbis during dozens of
mem, in between). If truth is divided among separate groups, it does years. All of my education, and the entire world outlook which I have
not exist at all. tried to pass on to my children and any disciples which I may have, is
According to Rabbi Chaim Vital, during the time of the destruction based on the teachings of Rabbi Kook. His philosophy leads the
of the Temple, when conflict and irrational hate grew (Yoma 9b), the religious Zionist camp as a vital and living Torah, lifting it up to the
truth disintegrated. Each grain of truth had its own followers and heights of Jewish nationalism and redemption. In light of this, I feel
believers. However, he says, "we will not be able" to be redeemed from that I have a right, along with others like me, to venture an opinion
the effects of the destruction "until all the flocks are gathered," when about the events which have occurred, even though in a formal sense I
all the flecks of truth will join together into a complete and great am an onlooker.
whole. As far as the act of separation itself, I am quite sure that each side
This concept was the objective of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, of the controversy can find quotes from Rabbi Kook to support their
not just to establish yet another brand of Judaism b ut to uncover a position: on one hand, against divisiveness and splitting and on the
general unity which encompasses all the others. Just as scientists are other hand in support of a harmony made up of mixed patterns of
constantly in search of a unified theory describing the different different lights.
branches of physics, so did he try to return the original Divine unity of For example: "The spiritual ideal cannot tolerate any division. It
all the different approaches (in particular: piety, nationalism, and knows only completeness and unity." ["Orot Hakodesh" page 453]. But
liberalism). He felt that "the position of the truth, its inner recognition the following may be interpreted in the opposite way: "By the
together with the love which should be felt for it, is collapsing. It is mechanism of opposite lights which are shining in Eretz Yisrael at the
being continuously worn away because of the way it is splint ered into present time, each of which has some element of a good and holy ideal,
separate bits and pieces." ["Orot HaTechiya" 18]. a new light will shine on Zion, which will prepare us for eternal
On another occasion, Rabbi Kook wrote: "In view of the current redemption." ["Igrot Hare'iya" 5639]. However, the truth is that any
state of our spirit and knowledge, we must remain as separate 'flocks,' quote must be understood in the full context of the place and time it
each sector by itself, until the joyous day will come whe n 'all the flocks was written, along with other related events. The issue of whether to
are gathered, and the stone can be rolled away from the mouth of the separate or stay together will not be decided by a war of quotes.
well,' when all the parts of the nation will gather together to remove the I must admit that at first glance from the outside it seems to me,
heart of stone from the life-giving well of the national role. This heart now that the separation has taken place (and I emphasize again: only
of stone is what brings about a division of the hearts and strife between after the fact), that no great tragedy has occurred. The net result is that
brothers. Only then will all the sectors and all the flocks work together, there will now be one more yeshiva in the multifaceted mosaic which
hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder, in a unified spirit, to erect the exists. It is true that every new institution causes the existing ones to
building of the house of Yisrael, the building of the nation and the hold their breath at first. Every year we hear of a new Hesder yeshiva
building of the land." ["Igrot HaRe'ia" chapter 4, page 126]. here, a Midrashia for girls, a new military prep school, a Torah class of
EXPLAIN A MIDRASH: Prayer and Sunlight style A, and a new Ulpana of style B. And we never cease to wonder:
by Rabbi Yehudah Shaviv How far can religious Zionism go in inventing new styles and nuances?
"And he arrived at the place ... for the sun had set" [Bereishit But the reality overpowers the wonder: Ju st as there is room on one's
28:11]. Use of the definite article in t he word "bamakom" means that it head for multiple sets of Tefilin, so does each new institution add a
is referring to a specific place, as is noted by Saadia Gaon ("the chosen new dimension to the mosaic. We are like the Tachash, whose skin
site") and Rashi ("Mount Moriah"). The Midrash gives two possible provided the leather for the Tabernacle, "who was happy with his many
interpretations of the word "makom:" either G-d Himself (called colors" [Pesachim 86a]. "Whoever desires can take his opinions from
"Hamakom" in the Talmud) or the Temple (Bereishit Rabba 68:9). one, and others can take from another, and conflict will be resolved
According to the second meaning, the first word of the verse, based on both you and me" [Pesachim 88a].
"vayifga," can denote a physical act, to arrive or to meet. However, Judaism has had long experience with divisions, and quite often a
according to the first interpretation, the verse refers to a spiritual new spiritual outlook has resulted from a new sector founded by a sage
encounter. This can explain the interpretation of the Talmud, that and his followers. This has certainly been true when the basis for the
Yaacov prayed (Berachot 26b). In addition, even if the word "makom" split has truly been in the name of heaven, n o matter what appearances
refers to the Temple, it is logical to assume that "he prayed in the are. This is in accordance with the following Mishna: "All controversy
Temple." This is the basis of the interpretation of t he Midrash, that which is in the name of heaven will survive" [Avot 5:17]. Both sides
Yaacov, in praying at sundown, established the ritual of Maariv. will continue to exist, as two sides of a coin.
The Midrash continues that the three daily prayers occur at "the This brings to mind Rabbi Kook's outstanding explanation of the
three times when the day changes. At the time of evening (Maariv), one well known prayer, "the sages increase peace in the world." He wrote,
must pray, 'Let it be your will, my G-d, that you release me from the "There are those who mistakenly think that world peace will only be
dark into the light.' In the morning (Shacharit), the prayer is, 'I thank built by establishing unified thought and characteristics ... and they
you for removing me from the dark into the light.' In the afternoon feel that the sages cause strife, the opposite of peace. This is not true ...
(Mincha), one should pray, 'Let it be your will, my G-d, that just as you Peace is increased when all the sides and hypotheses become known,
gave me the privilege of seeing the sun rise so will I have the privilege and it is understood that all have a legitimate position." ["Olat Rei'ah"
of seeing it set.'" Thus, Maariv is a request, Shacharit is a prayer of page 330].
thanks, and Mincha is a combination of thanks for the past and prayer Peace can be brought about by an increase of philosophies, as
for the future. hinted in the last word of this week's Torah portion, "machanyim,"
However, a question remains: How is it that one who feared the meaning two camps. However, when all is said and done, in spite of
coming darkness at the time of Maariv prays during Mincha for the sun what I have written above, the public reasons given for the split in
to set? It may be that the experience of sunrise has brought with it the Mercaz Harav are not easily understood by simple folk like me. I feel
understanding that this is the natural way of the world, so that the re is that I am expressing the feelings of many others in quoting the words
no longer any reason to fear darkness (similar to man's experience with of Shlomo: "Come back, Shulamit, come back so that we may see you.
the seasons, as described in Avoda Zara 8a). What do you see of Shulamit, who dances between two camps
There is a similar discussion in the Yerushalmi Talmud which [machanayim]?" [Shir Hashirim 7:1]. Let us join our voices in calling
changes the order: Shacharit first, then Mincha, and Maariv. In this out to the two camps to reunite, to return to the peace of the Shulamit.
version, the combined thanks and prayer is in Maariv: "Just as in the TORAH AND TECHNOLOGY: "So What If I Promised?"
past I was in darkness and you brought me into light, so do I by Rabbi Uri Dasberg
ask that you move me from the dark into the light." However, 3 The above title is roughly what Lavan answered Yaacov,
who complained, "What have you done to me ... why did you fool me?" A second possible approach to our problem is based u pon the fact
[Bereishit 29:25]. Is there in fact any legal validity to a promise? Does that Rashi and the Medrashim often make a point of giving praise to
property promised to someone become his even before an actual Eretz Yisrael the Land of Israel whenever possible, either blatantly or
transfer of ownership has taken place? subtly. Yaakov was leaving Beer Sheva which is in Eretz Yisrael. Ruth
We are not referring to the halacha which requires one to keep his and Naomi were leaving the fields of Moab a foreign domain.
promises ("A Jew will not do evil"). The question which we are asking Whereas the glory, radiance and splendor of a place that the
now is the straightforward halacha, without the ethics of the situation. presence of a Tzaddik has generated may be diminished by the
Is there any basis for legally requiring one to keep a promise because of departure of that Tzaddik, the reputation of Eretz Yisrael the land of
the moral imperative to do so? Israel cannot be diminished at all; it remains unblemished, for Eretz
In the case of a small gift, or if there is a minimal loss to the one Yisrael is the chosen land of HaShem with or without the presence of
who has made a promise, it is indeed assumed that the promise will be Tzaddikim. Thus, Rashi and the Medrash add the word Shevach
kept, and the gift must go to the recipient. An example is o ne who reputation to their commentaries on the Book of Ruth, but purposely
usually gives Teruma and Maaser to a specific Kohan and Levite. Since omit it from their commentaries on our Parsha.
his only benefit is the relatively minor one of the good will of these 2) The Beis HaLevi (Rav Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik [1820 -
recipients, they have automatic rights to these gifts. 1892]) offers the following observation based upon the Medrash
However, it is still not clear if the recipient i n such a case Rabbah. The Medrash cites the first verse from Psalm 121 [there is a
automatically has binding legal possession or if there is an obligation tradition that Yaakov was the author of this Psalm]: "I will lif t my eyes
on the part of the giver to keep his promise. This could be relevant if up to the hills, from where will come my help (Ezri)."
the recipient dies before the gift has passed hands. Do his heirs have a The Beis HaLevi points out that the Medrash is giving an added
valid claim to the gift? It may be that even if it has not yet been nuance to the word Ezri my help. Ezri here is referring to a wife, as in
transferred physically to the recipient, the giver must fulfill his promise the phrase used by HaShem regarding the creation of Eve Ezer
to the heirs. However, if the title was not formally passed on to the Kinegdo a helpmate opposite him. The Medrash then continues to
recipient, a firstborn would not be entitled to a double sha re, since the state: "Yaakov thought to himself, When Eliezer went to take Rivkah as
gift would have the status of a gift which has not yet been completed. a bride for Yitzchak he took with him ten camels, etc. I have not even
And here is an example closer to everyday events. One who is used one bracelet or one nose ring.' [In the Medrashim there is a question
to buying in a specific store has in effect promised to continue to whether Yaakov was purposely sent out without any wealth to avoid
support that store. It might then be prohibited for another merchant to pursuit by Esau, or whether they sent him away with great wealth, but
try and persuade such a regular customer to buy from him. However, he was robbed on the way either by Esau or by Eliphaz, Esau's son].
this would only apply to applying pressure to specific individuals, not Suddenly Yaakov changed his pattern of thinking and said to himself,
to launching a general campaign to persuade customers to buy from the Shall I despair? My help will come from my Creator my help will
new store. come from the L-rd the Creator of Heaven and earth'."
Reference: Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, "Techumin," volume The Beis HaLevi explains that the Medrash is teaching us a unique
13, page 371dimension of the faith of Yaakov in HaShem. He states that it is the
IN THE RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS: Bnei Akiva Visits a Prison normal approach for even a person who has great faith in HaShem to
by Nissim Swed wonder how he will obtain that which he needs. If a person needs a
Our sages tell us, "It once happened that Rabbi Akiva was in prison material object and he has no money with which to purchase it, even if
..." Perhaps as a continuation of this story, about 80 of his disciples, he has faith that HaShem will provide him his needs, he will still
members of the governing board of the Bnei Akiva movement, met in wonder as to the means of that Divine assistance. Will HaShem send
the early morning hours at the entrance to the Ayalon Prison, in order him a great business venture from which he will profit, will he find a
to participate in a tour and to meet some of the prisoners. treasure, win a lottery, or will he make a killing in the stock market?
The theme of this year's special Shabbat dedicated to the movement This type of thinking shows no lack of faith, for ultimately the person
("Shabbat Irgun") is social justice, and in order to fully understand an believes that HaShem will provide the necessary sources of wealth.
issue it is often necessary to view it from all angles. The visit to the However, Yaakov saw even this type of thinking as an expression of
prison was meant to provide better understanding of the p rocesses lack of faith in HaShem. Why should he be concerned that HaShem will
which can lead to crime. This year, 373 regional branches of Bnei provide for him the intermediary means (wealth) of obtaining his needs
Akiva will study social gaps and ways to prevent them. Special (a wife)? The ultimate object of Yaakov's need will not come through
programs which were held include: handicapped children who have any intermediary process involving the attainment of wealth but from
been invited to participate in local activities; a club established in HaShem, Himself, even without wealth. When one has such a degree of
Jerusalem for children of prisoners; and one region has "adopted" faith, then even the ordinary means of obtaining one's needs are
lonely senior citizens on a permanent basis. As part of a nationwide superfluous. HaShem, Himself, will provide for the ultimate needs of
project named "Eitan," youth between the ages of 14 and 15 have been the person who truly has faith in Him.
invited to join the movement. 3) Many commentators raise the following question: If the
Michael is a counselor from Jerusalem. He says, "All of a sudden I forefathers kept the Torah even before it was given (see Yoma 28b and
noticed that I listen to political news but tune out any references to the Kiddushin 82a), how did Yaakov marry two sisters an act which Torah
poverty line and to unemployment. The poverty line is not a statistic in law forbids? The question is compounded with Yaakov, who according
the economics section of a newspaper but refers to children who are to our sages told Esau, "I dwelt with Lavan, yet I still observed the 613
starving! As a religious youth organization, we must pay more attention commandments."
than others to social and ethical values." Yona Goodman, director of How could Yaakov state this if he was married to two sisters,
Bnei Akiva, adds: "The 50th anniversary of our independence should something forbidden by the Torah? Here are several answers offered
not be an opportunity for a rerun of a show like 'This is Your Life.' It is through the centuries:
not a celebration of the end of Zionism, where we look only to the past. a) Nachmanides postulates that the forefathers only kept the Torah
Now is the time to take on the challenges of the future." in the Land of Israel. Yaakov married the two sisters outside the Land
of Israel. Rachel died just after they returned to the boundaries of Israel
3 - NYCI (Block) (Nachmanides' position is not compatible with the statement a ttributed
Guest Rabbi:Rabbi Yosef Goldberg, Wavecrest & Bayswater, New York to Yaakov that he kept the commandments even while living with
1) "...And Yaakov went forth from Beer Sheva . . . ": Rashi notes that it Lavan).
is seemingly unnecessary for the Torah to mention that Yaakov went b) The Maharal of Prague in his commentary on Rashi, Gur Aryeh,
forth from Beer Sheva. has two different approaches. First, the Patriarchs and Matriarchs were
Mentioning that he went to Haran (his destination) would have been converts to Judaism. There is a principle that a convert is like a
sufficient. We already are aware that Yaakov had been living in Beer newborn infant whose previous relationships are no longer extant. Thus,
Sheva and, in traveling to a distant land, one must, perforce, leave the being converts, Rachel and Leah were no longer considered sisters by
city where one had been staying. Therefore Rashi tells us, based upon Torah standards. The second approach is that HaShem commanded
the Medrash Rabbah, the Torah teaches us that the departure of a Yaakov via prophetic spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) to marry these two
righteous person from a place makes an impression. sisters. This is an example of a special Divine order to a prophet to do
A righteous person is the glory, radiance and splendor of a place. an act which would be a violation of the Torah if anyone else did it. By
When the righteous person departs his former home, that glory, radiance not marrying any other two sisters, Yaakov was still observing this
and splendor depart with him. negative commandment.
Rashi notes a similar example of this lesson in the Book of Ruth c) Rav Chaim Volozhiner (the most famous of the students of the
where it states "and she (Naomi) left the place . . . " There, in his Vilna Gaon and the founder of the modern Yeshiva movement), in his
commentary on the Book of Ruth, Rashi, again following the Medrash philosophical work Nefesh HaChaim, states that the forefathers did not
Rabbah, comments that the departure of a Tzaddik from a place is observe the Mitzvot unconditionally, but rather because their gigantic
apparent and makes a noticeable impression. When a Tzaddik is in a neshamot felt a special need to observe the Mitzvot. When this need
place, he is its glory, radiance, splendor and reputation. When he or she was overridden by special considerations, then those considerations
departs, so, too, does the glory, radiance, splendor, and reputation of received top priority. Yaakov's neshama perceived that these two
that place. sisters, Rachel and Leah were the destined choice to be the mothers of
Note that, in their commentaries on the Book of Ruth, Rashi and the Jewish people. Therefore he married them.
the Medrash add an additional word Shevach (which means reputation d) The Brisker Rav (on Parshat Lech Lecha) states that the
or praise) to the list of things that depart along with the Tzaddik. I prohibition against marrying two sisters exists only when the Torah has
would like to venture two possible reasons for this addition. One created and defined the Jewish marital state in its full legal sense. This
possibility is that in our Parsha, Yitzchak remained in Beer Sheva. The state did not exist as a legality until after the Torah was given.
Medrash Rabbah itself asks that since Yitzchak was still in Beer Sheva, Therefore Yaakov could not violate this prohibition. [This piece is
why did its glory, radiance and splendor depart with Yaakov? The based upon Rav Chaim Soloveitchik's insight that certain Mitzvot are
Medrash answers, there is still a notable difference between the simple physical acts whereas others are legalistic concepts.] The
presence of one Tzaddik and that of two Tzaddikim. forefathers were able to keep those commandments that were simple
This can apply to the glory, radiance and splendor of a place that physical acts such as slaughtering animals or refraining from work on
the departure of a Tzaddik diminishes. However, the reputation of the Shabbat. But commandments that involved legalistic en tities that were
place as a habitat fit for a Tzaddik remained intact with the continued not yet in existence were not possible for them to keep.
presence of Yitzchak. With Ruth and Naomi, no other Tzaddikim Thus Avraham could not observe Brit Milah which is a legalistic
remained in Moab. Therefore, the reputation of the place also concept until he was commanded to do so at the advanced age of
departed when Ruth and Naomi left. 4 ninety-nine years (Again these latter approaches are not
consistent with Yaakov's statement that he observed all 613 of the so did He promise his descendants. And just as Yakov's weakness was
commandments). expressed at that point, the weakness of his descendants was expressed
at that point as well.
4 - PARSHA PAGE (Kornfeld) The Jews, already standing on the border of the Holy Land,
suddenly got cold feet. They asked Moshe to send spies into the land to
AFRAID TO ASCEND
[Yakov] saw in his dream a ladder standing on the ground with its determine their chances for a successful conquest. Instead of
head in the sky, and he saw angels ascending and descending it. encouraging the people that the land was as beautiful as had been
(Bereishit 28:12) promised, the returning spies cause the people's hearts to sink with
Yakov saw the patron-angel of Babylon ascend and descend, the angel their tales of the might of the fearsome natives. And just as Yakov had
of Mede ascend and descend, the angel of Greece ascend and descend been thrown off by the fear of his brother Esav, the last straw in the
and the angel of Rome ascend and descend. Hashem then said to spies' argument was that the infamous nation of Amalek, Esav's
Yakov, "Now you, too, climb the ladder!" Yakov was suddenly grandchild, was waiting in the South to attack the Jews as they ente r
fearful. "Perhaps," he said, "just like these angels descended after the land of Israel (Bamidbar 13:29). "Why did Hashem bring us to this
climbing the ladder, I too will, G-d forbid, have to descend if I climb land," they wept, "to fall by our enemy's sword!" (ibid. 14:3).
it." Hashem reassured him, "Do not fear, for if you climb the ladder We indeed find that the eventual exile of the Jewish People was
you will never descend from it." But Yakov did not trust in Hashem related to this sin. As the Mishnah tells us (Ta'anis 26b), on the very
and he did not ascend the ladder. same day of the year that the Jews cried over the discouraging reports of
"Nevertheless, they sinned again and they did not have faith in the spies, both the first and the second Temples were destroyed by the
Hashem's wonders" (Tehilim 78:32)... -- this verse refers to our enemy. Any Jews who survived the enemy's merciless onslaught were
forefather Yakov, who did not have faith in Hashem and did not exiled.
ascend the ladder. Hashem told Yakov... now that you did not have However, along with the key to our defeat, Yakov's dream contains
faith in Me, your children will have to undergo four exiles in this the key to our redemption. As the Midrash tells us, "We find that when
world, during which they will be subject to many forms of ta xation. the Jews are in exile, they will only return to their land in the merit of
(Midrash Raba Vayikra 29:2; Tanchuma Vayetze #2) their *faith* in Hashem" (Yalkut Shimoni 2:519). May Hashem grant us
Although the story of Yakov's famous dream is well known, not the strength to merit the final return to Zion, speedily, in our days!
many know the strange epilogue described by the Midrash. Yakov
refuses to ascend the ladder at Hashem's bidding. Due to this od d "sin," 5 -PROJECT GENESIS
his descendants will be subject to many years of harsh exile. A). PG LIFELINE:
The words of the Midrash require further elucidation: "And she [Leah] became pregnant again, and gave birth to a boy,
(1) How can a person sin in a dream? and she said, 'this time I will give thanks to G-d;' therefore she
(2) Why was Yakov afraid to ascend, and why were the consequences of called his name Yehudah; and she ceased to have children."
his refusal so extensive? [29:35]
(3) The verse quoted in the second half of the Midrash clearly states, This verse is explained by Rashi, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, from the
"*they* sinned... *they* did not trust...." How can it be referring to Medrash Breishis Rabba: the matriarchs were prophetesses, and they
Yakov? In fact, it seems quite obvious from the context of the verse that knew that twelve tribes would emerge from Yaakov, and he married four
it is referring to the Jewish People at the time of the Egyptian Exodus, women - thus when Yehudah, her fourth son, was born, Leah gave
and not to Yakov! thanks because she had "taken more than her share."
Our Midrash undoubtedly contains within it numerous teachings. This week I heard the same Dvar Torah from two different sources -
It was meant to be understood in many different ways, each consistent by email from Rabbi Yehoshua Bertram, a teacher in Ohr Somayach
with a different Masoretic approach to the Torah. Let us try to whom I visited frequently for Shalosh Seudos when I lived in Jerusalem,
understand it at least on a simple level. and in person from Rabbi Leonard Dickstein, a resident of Silver
II Spring, MD, who was speaking at the Sheva Brachos (celebratory meal
(1) It is clear from the Torah that Yakov's dream was a prophetic during the week after marriage) of his daughter Miriam and David
vision. As such, it is reasonable to assume that Hashem's command that Zuroff. The coincidence is striking enough that I will repeat the Dvar
Yakov ascend the ladder, and Yakov's punishment for not doing so, Torah for you here, and do so in honor of the newlyweds - may they
were not so much a sin as a prophetic *warning*. Yakov was just build a Bayis Ne'eman B'Yisrael (a "faithful home" in Israe l) and enjoy
leaving the land of Israel for a stint in the Diaspora. He was being many happy years together.
warned that there would come a time when he would be expected to, The Talmud, Tractate Brachos 7b, says the following: "Rebbe
metaphorically, "ascend the ladder." Should he hesitate at that point Yochanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai, 'from the day
due to a lack of faith, Hashem warned him, it would result in his that the Holy One, Blessed be He, created the world, there was no one
children being sent into exile. who offered thanks to Him until Leah came and offered thanks to him,
When was that point? It would appear that it involved the period as the verse says, "This time I will offer thanks to G-d."'"
when Yakov returned to the land of Israel after 20 years of service in As Rabbi Dickstein pointed out, this is a difficult passage to
the house of his uncle Lavan. Hashem was warning Yakov to return understand - are we truly to believe that no one thanked HaShem
proudly to the land that "leads to the sky." The word "ascend" is previously? Perhaps the simplest answer is that the Torah itself has no
appropriate, since traveling towards Eretz Yisrael is called "ascending" previous record of such thanks. The Torah Temima points out, however,
("Aliyah"), in the words of our Sages -- Zevachim 54b). that the Talmud Bava Basra credits Adam HaRishon ("the first") with
(2) When the Midrash continues, "Yakov did not trust in Hashem and the original authorship of Psalm 139, which reads, "I will gi ve thanks to
he did not ascend the ladder," it is not referring to events that took You, for in an awesome way was I formed, Your works are wonders, and
place on the night of Yakov's dream. Rather, it is allegorically referring my soul knows this well." [v. 14] He then resolves this by
to the events that transpired when Yakov eventually did return to distinguishing Leah's gratitude for a particular act of kindness bestowed
Israel. "He was afraid," says the Midrash. As the Torah tells us, upon upon her, from the more general thanks for G-d's wonders given by
approaching the land of Israel, Yakov saw his brother Esav coming to Adam. But in any case, however we set aside or reconcile this problem,
attack him, 400 strong. "Yakov was very frightened, and he was another question immediately arises.
troubled" (Bereishit 32:8). If indeed it is true that Leah was the first to give thanks, then one
Hashem had warned him in his dream, "Do not be afraid! I will be would have expected G-d to amply reward her for her conduct. What we
with you!" But Yakov did not realize the meaning of his dre am until see is just the opposite: that she was then given no more children for
too late. Instead of unabashedly returning to his homeland, he makes several years. Why was there no reward?
elaborate plans to flatter Esav and to appease his anger. His strategies The answer is that gratitude alone is insufficient. It is far too easy
include bowing down to Esav and sending him a large gift with to become complacent, to "count one's blessings" and fai l to recognize
hundreds of heads of cattle. As Rashi explains (Bereishit 32:11), the need for continued help.
Yakov feared that although Hashem had previously promised him Life's many challenges only come to a close when life itself comes
protection, he had since become tainted by sin and would not be to a conclusion ("after 120"). In the meantime, we always need help,
deserving of Hashem's protection. and can never sit back and predict smooth sailing ahead. When Rachel
His punishment is an appropriate one. For bowing down to Es av, finally became pregnant and had a child, she called him "Yosef", which
Esav will be made his superior. Yakov will be *subjugated* to him means to add. In the midst of her gratitude, she said "Yosef HaShem li
during long years of exile. For showering his wealth on Esav ben acher," "G-d should add another child for me." [30:24]
needlessly, he will be *taxed* mercilessly during those years. When praying to G-d, it's not only true that "it never hurts to ask" -
III it hurts _not_ to ask! "And she [Leah] became pregnant again, and gave
(3) Why should his descendants suffer such an extensive punishment birth to a boy, and she said, 'this time I will give thanks to G -d;'
for Yakov's sin? therefore she called his name Yehudah; and she ceased to have
Our strength as a nation is deeply rooted in the faultlessness of children." [29:35]
our great ancestors, the three Patriarchs. It was they who laid the This verse is explained by Rashi, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, from the
foundation upon which the nation was built by imbuing in their Medrash Breishis Rabba: the matriarchs were prophetesses, and they
offspring their love for and fear of Hashem. Even the tiniest fault in the knew that twelve tribes would emerge from Yaakov, and he married four
foundation of a large structure can cause an enormous instability in its women - thus when Yehudah, her fourth son, was born, Leah gave
upper stories. thanks because she had "taken more than her share."
Yakov's fear of Esav reflected an otherwise insignificant flaw in This week I heard the same Dvar Torah from two different sources -
his fear of Hashem since, as the Chovas ha'Levavos writes, true fear of by email from Rabbi Yehoshua Bertram, a teacher in Ohr Somayach
Hashem leaves no room for any other fears. This flaw was amplified in whom I visited frequently for Shalosh Seudos when I lived in Jerusalem,
his descendants, and it eventually brought them to sin in such a way and in person from Rabbi Leonard Dickstein, a resident of Silver
that many years of exile were required to rectify their sin. Thus, the Spring, MD, who was speaking at the Sheva Brachos (celebratory meal
Midrash is justified in suggesting that the verse, "*they* sinned... during the week after marriage) of his daughter Miriam and David
*they* did not have faith...," referring to a lack of faith among the Jews Zuroff. The coincidence is striking enough that I will repeat the Dvar
who had fled Egypt, at the same time reflects a flaw in our forefather Torah for you here, and do so in honor of the newlyweds - may they
Yakov. build a Bayis Ne'eman B'Yisrael (a "faithful home" in Israel) and enjoy
IV many happy years together.
Perhaps we can even single out exactly at which point this flaw in The Talmud, Tractate Brachos 7b, says the following: "Rebbe
their faith affected the Jewish People. Just as Hashem promised Yochanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai, 'from
to protect Yakov and to return him safely to the land of Israel, 5 the day that the Holy One, Blessed be He, created the world,
there was no one who offered thanks to Him until Leah came and into Exile (Galus) and Parshas VaYishlach contains the prototype of
offered thanks to him, as the verse says, "This time I will offer thanks to his returning to Eretz Yisrael. The fact that in this parsha, Yaakov was
G-d."'" able to go into Galus and come back is what enabled his children to
As Rabbi Dickstein pointed out, this is a difficult passage to repeat this unlikely phenomenon, generations later.
understand - are we truly to believe that no one thanked HaShem It is instructive to look at this parsha and the dialogue at the end of
previously? Perhaps the simplest answer is that the Torah itself has no the parsha between Yaakov and Lavan. After 20 years in Galus, what
previous record of such thanks. The Torah Temima points out, however, is the discussion that Yaakov has with his father-in-law? It all hinges
that the Talmud Bava Basra credits Adam HaRishon ("the first") with on the issues of truth and integrity.
the original authorship of Psalm 139, which reads, "I will give thanks to Lavan does not accuse Yaakov of not being religious or meticu lous
You, for in an awesome way was I formed, Your works are wonders, and in observance. He accuses him of not being honest, of cheating (Why
my soul knows this well." [v. 14] He then resolves this by did you steal from me? [Bereshis 31:30]).
distinguishing Leah's gratitude for a particular act of kindness bestowed What is Yaakov's response?
upon her, from the more general thanks for G-d's wonders given by "...What is my transgression? What is my sin that you have hotly
Adam. But in any case, however we set aside or reconcile this problem, pursued me? When you rummaged through all my things, what did you
another question immediately arises. find of all your household objects? Set it here before my kinsmen and
If indeed it is true that Leah was the first to give thanks, then one your kinsmen, and let them decide between the two of us. These
would have expected G-d to amply reward her for her conduct. What we twenty years I have been with you, your ewes and she-goats never
see is just the opposite: that she was then given no more children for miscarried, nor did I eat rams of your flock. That which was mangled I
several years. Why was there no reward? never brought you -- I myself would bear the loss, from me you would
The answer is that gratitude alone is insufficient. It is far too easy exact it, whether it was stolen by day or stolen by night. This is how I
to become complacent, to "count one's blessings" and fail to recognize was: By day scorching heat consumed me, and frost by night; my sleep
the need for continued help. drifted from my eyes..." [Bereshis 31:36-42]
Life's many challenges only come to a close when life itself comes I never stole a thing from you. I gave you an honest days work for
to a conclusion ("after 120"). In the meantime, we always need help, an honest days pay! I was with you for 20 years and I can say that I
and can never sit back and predict smooth sailing ahead. When Rachel was honest! I did not cheat you. I did not rob you. I did not take
finally became pregnant and had a child, she called him "Yosef", which anything behind your back. I was 100% trustworthy.
means to add. In the midst of her gratitude, she said "Yosef HaS hem li That is the " ma'aseh avos siman l'banim " of Parshas Vayeitzei.
ben acher," "G-d should add another child for me." [30:24] What will the Jewish People have to say to G-d in the future, after a
When praying to G-d, it's not only true that "it never hurts to ask" - 2,000 year Exile? What this parsha tells us is that we will have to be
it hurts _not_ to ask! able to say "We were honest (ehrlich)!"
B). RAV FRAND: the gentile citizens of our host countries.
A Ladder Is a Perfect Representation of the Jewish People We did not cheat in business. We did not rob Goyim [the gentile
The pasuk [verse] says, "And Yaakov left Beer Sheva and he went to citizens of our host countries]. We were not shysters. We were not all
Charan..." Yaakov had a dream about a ladder whose feet were on the the things that sometimes, unfortunately, people accuse Jews of being.
earth and which stretched all the way up to the heaven. It is when Klal Yisrael will be able to say "We were ehrlich" that
The Medrash says that when the verse refers to the ladder Klal Yisrael will finally be able to come back from Galus.
"emplanted on the earth" it refers to the fact that Yaakov was C). PARSHA PARABLES ( Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky)
(prophetically) shown Korach about whom it is written, "and the earth It just doesn't make sense. After more than twenty years of toiling in
opened its mouth (to swallow Korach)". The Medrash goes on to say the house of Lavan (Laban), Yaakov (Jacob) wants out. He should
that when the pasuk says that the head of the ladder reached the have been entitled to. After all, he married Lavan's daughters in
heaven, it refers to the fact that Yaakov was (prophetcially) shown exchange for years of tending the sheep, He increased Lavan's livest ock
Moshe about whom it is written "Come up to HaShem [G-d] (in population many fold, and he was a faithful son -in-law despite a
Heaven)." conniving huckster of a father-in-law. Yet when Yaakov leaves
What does this Medrash mean? Rav Mordechai Ilan comments that Lavan's home with his wives, children, and flocks, he sneaks out,
what G-d showed Yaakov was the essence of the nation who would fearing that Lavan would never let him leave. He is purs ued by Lavan
descend from him. Klal Yisrael is like a ladder. who chases him with a vengeance. But Yaakov is lucky. Hashem
The Talmud in Megilah says, "This nation is compared to the dust appears to Lavan in a dream and warns him not to harm Yaakov.
and compared to the stars -- when they go down they descend to the Eventually, Lavan overtakes Yaakov and accosts him. "Why have you
dust; but when they go up they ascend all the way to Heaven." A led my daughters away like captives of the sword? Why have you fled,
ladder is the perfect representation of the Jewish people. No one ever secretly, without notifying me? Had you told me you wanted to leave I
remains standing on a ladder. It is either used to go up or to go down. would have sent you off with song and music!" (Genesis 31:26 -27)
People sit on chairs, on sofas, or beds. Those are pieces of furniture Yaakov answers his father-in-law by declaring his fear. "You
used for stationary positioning. No body ever uses a ladder for simply would have stolen your daughters from me." Lavan then searched all of
standing. Yaakov's belongings looking for idols missing from his collection.
That is what the Jewish People are all about. We are a nation that Yaakov was outraged. He simply did not understand what Lavan
cannot remain stagnant. Either we will ascend and achieve wondrous wanted. Yaakov responds to the attack by detailing the tremendous
heights or we will go in the opposite direction -- to the dust! amount of selfless work, through scorching heat and freezing nights,
This is what the Medrash means by saying that G-d showed Korach that he toiled in order to make Lavan a wealthy man. Reviewing the
and Moshe to Yaakov. They were the two ends of the spectrum. On care and concern that he had for his wives and children, Yaakov
the one hand there was a person who was consumed with jealousy and declares that he is not worthy of the mean -spirited attacks made by his
what was his end? "The earth opened its mouth..." Because h e was not father-in-law, Lavan. And," Yaakov adds, "If not for the protection of
ascending, he descended to the greatest depths possible. On the other Hashem, Lavan would have sent me away empty handed." (Genesis
hand, there was a Moshe Rabbeinu [our teacher], who demonstrated the 31:38-42)
far outer limits of what a human being is capable of achieving. Yet Lavan is unmoved. Like a stoic, unyielding dictator, Lavan
There is no standing in the middle. Stagnation itself is descent. responds. "The daughters are my daughters, the children are my
Klal Yisroel (and indeed life in general) is a ladder with feet on the children, the flock is my flock and all that you see is mine." (Genesis
ground and the top reaching toward the heavens. It is up to the 31:43)
individual to decide which direction he will be heading -- up toward What can be going on in Lavan's mind? What motivates a man to
Heaven or down to the greatest depths. This was the dream that G-d be so selfish and unreasonable?
showed Yaakov about his future nation. My friend Reb Yossel Czopnik told me the following true story
The Honesty of Our Father Must Foreshadow Our Own Honesty about Yankel, a heavy smoker who went to see a certain hypnotist who
At the end of the parsha we find a seemingly insignificant event. A had cured a large number of people. In a method that combined
bunch of stones were piled up as a marker. Lavan called the pile of hypnosis, electrodes, and a little cajoling while placing little metal balls
stones by an Aramaic name (Yegar Sahadusa) and Yaakov called it by a behind the ears, patients swore that the urge to smoke had been totally
Hebrew name (Gal-ed). eradicated from their minds.
Sforno says that this pasuk teaches us that Yaakov never changed Yankel went to the doctor and underwent the entire ritual. The
his language. This has tremendous significance. One of the m ain balls went behind his ears, the electrodes were attached to his temples,
themes that occur throughout the book of Bereshis is that all the events and the doctor began to talk.
of the Patriarchs foreshadow the events of their descendants (ma'aseh "Let me ask you, Yankel," questioned the doctor of the well wired
avos siman l'banim). All the actions of the Patriarchs laid the patient, "every time you inhale a cigarette do you know what is
groundwork for the history of Klal Yisroel throughout the Diaspora and happening? Close your eyes and imagine your lips puckered around the
throughout its existence. tail pipe of a New York City bus! Now, take a deep breath. Imagine all
When Avraham Avinu went down to Egypt and was able to survive, those noxious fumes filling your lungs! That is what the cigarettes are
this burned the trail so that future generations would also be able to go doing to you!"
down to Egypt and survive. Chazal tell us that one of the things that Yankel went home that night still wanting a smoke but decided to
safeguarded the integrity of the Jewish people so that they did not hold off. "Maybe it takes one night," he thought.
assimilate and disappear during their many years in Egypt was the fact The next morning nothing seemed to change. In fact, on his way to
that they did not change their language, their names, or their style of work, he had queasy feelings. As soon as he entered his office Yankel
dress. From where did they get this fortitude to keep talking in their picked up the telephone and called the doctor.
own language -- Hebrew, the 'Holy Tongue'? Says the Sforno, it "So," asked the doctor, "How do you feel? I'm sure you didn't have
happened right over here in this seemingly insignificant act. a cigarette yet! I bet you have no desire for them anymore!"
The act of Yaakov - insisting to refer to the pile of stones by a Yankel was hesitant. "Honestly, Doc. I'm not sure. One thing I
Hebrew name, despite the fact that Lavan called it by an Aramaic name can tell you, however. All morning long, on my way to work I was
- was the act that gave the Jewish people in future years the strength to chasing city buses!"
keep their own language in Egypt. Lavan just wouldn't get it. No matter how clearly Yaakov explained
If this is true, about a seemingly small act, let us for just a few his case, twenty years of work, the devoted lab or under scorching heat
minutes look at the totality of what happened in Parshas Vayeitzeii and and freezing cold, Lavan just stood unmoved. "The daughters are my
let us try to see the implication in terms of Ma'aseh Avos Siman daughters, the children are my children, and whatever you have is
Parshas Vayeitzei is the prototype of Yaakov Avinu going 6 When the sickness of egocentrism overtakes the emotional
stability of a human soul; one can talk, cajole, or persuade. The Just before leaving his parents (and experiencing the vision which
Almighty can even appear in a dream and do his part. It is helpless. led to this vow), Ya'akov received one last blessing from his father -
Unless one actually takes the initiative to realize his or her and this one was given with full knowledge of the recipient:
shortcomings, anything that anyone may tell them is only a blast of "...May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and
noxious air. numerous, that you may become a company of peoples. May He give to
D). P’SHUTO SHEL MIKRA ( Rabbi Yitz Etshalom) you the blessing of Avraham, to you and to your offspring with you, so
YA'AKOV'S VOW that you may take possession of the land where you now live as an
I THE DREAM AND THE RESPONSE alien, [the land] that God gave to Avraham." (28:3 -4)
At the beginning of our Parashah, we are told of Ya'akov's famous Ya'akov was blessed that he should be like his paternal grandfather,
"ladder" dream at Beit-El, wherein God promises that he will give him Avraham. One of the central features of Avraham's greatness was the
the Land, many descendants, that he will be a blessing to all of recognition on the part of the people around him - including kings - of
humanity - and that He will protect and guard Ya'akov on his journey his special relationship with God. And that is exactly where tithing
to Haran until he returns to the Land and realizes the fulfillment of all comes into the picture.
of these promises. The one explicit instance of tithing found before Ya 'akov was that
When Ya'akov awoke (the second time - look carefully at B'resheet of Avraham (Beresheet 14:17-20). Subsequent to his defeat of the four
28:16-18) in the morning, he consecrated an altar and made the mighty kings, Avraham encountered the king of S'dom in the presence
following vow: of MalkiZedeck , a "priest of the Most High God". MalkiZedeck blessed
"If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and him and verbally affirmed Avraham's special relationship with God (as
will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear and I come again to my evidenced by his military and political power). In response, Avraham
father's house in peace; YHVH will be my God, and this stone, which I gave MalkiZedeck a tenth of his goods. This was, then, the proper
have set up for a pillar, will be God's house; and of all that You give me reaction to public recognition of one's special relationship with God.
I will surely give one tenth to You." (Beresheet 28:20 -22) Whereas pagan belief held that a person might be favored by the gods as
There are three difficulties inherent in this statement - and one a matter of fate or caprice, the approach of the Torah - which is
which is external to it: consistenly stressed and repeated - is that God's selection of an
ANALYZING THE TEXT: FIVE QUESTIONS II individual for blessing is a direct result of that person's s aintly behavior
PROBLEM #1: "NEDER AL T'NAI" The conditional vow -*neder al (see e.g. Beresheet 6:9 and 18:18-19). Once someone is publicly
t'ani* is odd for several reasons: recognized as being blessed by God, it is a supreme act of responsibility
a) If the condition (God watching over Ya'akov) is a mirror of God's toward achieving the goal of publicizing God's Name (the Avrahamic
promise to him in the dream, why is Ya'akov phrasing it conditionally - mission) to demonstrate that His favors are bestowed upon the
"if God will be with me..." - isn't he fully confident that God will fulfill righteous. By tithing at that point, the righteous person shows that his
His promise? special relationship with God is justified - and is accessible to other.
b) On the other hand, if Ya'akov's condition is someho w different than Ya'akov knew that when he would be recognized by leaders as having a
God's promise - why is Ya'akov "setting the terms" for God? Isn't that special relationship with God - that would be the point at which he
inappropriate? would tithe.
c) In any case, the condition seems unnecessary - if God doesn't help REEVALUATING THE VOW IV
Ya'akov return to the Land, he won't be in a position to fulfill his vow. Now, let's look at the vow again and divide it a bit differently:
Ya'akov could have made an unconditional vow - and then, if God saw "If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and
him safely back to the Land, he would fulfill it. If not, he would either will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear and I come again to my
be "stuck" outside of the Land, or dead; in either case absolved of his father's house in peace; YHVH will be my God, and this stone, which I
vow. have set up for a pillar, will be God's house; THEN all that You give me
Ramban (v. 20) suggests that the conditional word *im* ("if") is I will surely give one tenth to You."
sometimes used (as in God's own words to Ya'akov in the dream - v. 15 Ya'akov is vowing that when the rest of the world recognizes his
- see also Sh'mot 22:24) as "when". Here too, he suggests that Ya'akov special relationship with God ("YHVH will be my God"), he will give
is not making a conditional vow, rather a "delayed" vow -*neder l'achar tithes, as did his grandfather when he was recognized as being blessed
z'man* - meaning, WHEN these things (which God has promised and by God. This recognition would come to pass, in Ya'akov's case, by
which I am confident will come to pass) happen, I will... Although there God protecting and sustaining him in exile and bringing him back
are other examples of this usage, it is not the simplest way to read the home. There is, however, more to the story. Once Ya'akov becomes
text. recognized by leaders and their people as blessed by God, it follows that
PROBLEM #2: HOW MUCH IS "VOW"? any site where he worshipped would become a place of prayer and
In Ya'akov's statement, where does the condition end and where worship for others. After all, imagine how we would flock to the
does the vow begin? The biggest question relates to the phrase "YHVH original Luz/Beit-El if we could unqualifiably identify the location of
will be my God" - is this the end of the condition (as Sa'adiah, Rashi, Ya'akov's dream - and none of us ever met Ya'akov in the flesh! How
Rashbam and Hizkuni understand) or is it the beginning of the much more so would someone who saw Ya'akov and recognized his
vow/commitment (Radak, Ramban)? Either reading is difficult, as special qualities want to go back to that pillar and worship there.
follows: Ya'akov is stipulating that even if God protects him, it will only be of
a) If it is the end of the condition, how should it be understood? What value to the rest of the world once they recognize this and act upon that
must God do to "fulfill" His end of the bargain? If it means that God recognition.
should be "with" Ya'akov (whatever that may mean - see Yehoshua At that point, his tithing will make the necessary statement of
[Joshua] 3:7), isn't this a restatement of the first phrase in the commitment to all of those values which it is his job to publicize -
condition? because his position will afford him that opportunity.
b) If it is the beginning of the vow/commitment, what does it mean? We can now answer all of our questions:
What is Ya'akov committing to do in this phrase? 1) Ya'akov's condition is not merely a mirror of God's promise - it
PROBLEM #3: MA'ASER takes the promise one step further. If God's protection leads to
The final phrase of the vow seems a bit odd - after committing to Ya'akov's public recognition as a recipient of God's blessing, then he
have a special relationship with God, including (apparently) to worship will demonstrate the propriety of that selection by tithi ng.
Him at this spot, the climax of his statement - "...and of all that You 2) The "condition" ends before the last phrase. The only commitment is
give me I will surely give one tenth to You"seems incongruous. What is found in the final phrase - to tithe.
the import of this commitment? 3) The commitment to tithe is not so incongruous - since it is the only
There is one external difficulty: commitment made here. In addition, its significance is understood
PROBLEM #4: WHEN IS THE VOW FULFILLED? against the backdrop of Avraham's tithing to MalkiZedeck.
Why was Ya'akov never "called" on this vow? Even though he 4) Ya'akov was never "called" on this vow because he never vowed to
returned to the Land, he didn't go directly to Beit -El for worship. go back to Beit El (read Beresheet 31:13 and 35:1 carefully) - rather, to
Indeed, Rashi explains God's beckoning of Ya'akov to return to the tithe.
Land: " '...I am the God of Beit - El, where you anointed a pillar and 5) Beit-El becoming a place of worship was not the commitment - it was
made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and return to the land of the final condition which would commit Ya'akov to follow Avraham's
your birth. ' " (31:13), in this light: " 'and made a vow to me:' - and now model and to give a tenth of everything with which God blessed him.
you must fulfill it" (Rashi ibid. - see also Ramban ibid). Rashi even
sees Ya'akov's delay in fulfilling his vow as the cause for the Dina 6 - HAR ETZION (V
tragedy (see Rashi 35:1). In spite of this approach, there is no mention A) INTRODUCTION TO PARSHAT HASHEVUAH
irtualB eit HaM idrash)
in the text of any failing on Ya'akov's part regarding his obvious delay by Rav Alex Israel
in returning to Beit-El. This week, we see Jacob leave home. He sets out on his journey to
Examining one further difficulty in the text will help us understand Charan and the house of Laban with a dual purpose in mind. The first
Ya'akov's vow: reason for his departure is his flight from his brother Esau. Jacob has
PROBLEM #5: "TOLEH B'DA'AT AHERIM" stolen the blessings from Esau and in the wake of this incident, we hear
In the penultimate phrase, Ya'akov states: "...and this stone, which I Esau threatening to kill Jacob:
have set up for a pillar, will be God's house...". Although the "The moment my father dies and we will complete the mourning
commentaries understand some form of commitment on Ya'akov's part period for him, I will kill my brother Jacob; the sooner the better."
(e.g. to construct a sanctuary there [Radak], to worship there [Rashi]), (27:34)
the text is enigmatic. The simplest reading of this phrase is that this Esau is out to get Jacob. Rebbeca's response is to send Jacob away
place (Beit-El) will be a house of God - but that is, of course, something from the homestead, to give Esau the time and space to calm down a
which is out of Ya'akov's control. Whether the world recognizes the little. Jacob is a fugitive on the run.
special nature of that location and, as a result, comes there to worship, The second reason for leaving is not an escape. It is a mission - a
is not something Ya'akov can guarantee - at best, he can endeavor to quest to find a wife and to set up a family. Like his father before him,
publicize the place and hope to attract worshippers. How can this be a the proposed address for a suitable spouse is the home of his mother
vow, considering that its fulfillment is dependent on others (*toleh Rebbecca and her brother Lavan who has two daughters of
b'da'at acherim*)? marriageable age. Isaac sends him off with the familiar pa triarchal
Returning to an earlier question, what is the significance of the command:
commitment to tithe (the last clause of Ya'akov's vow)? "You shall not take a wife from among the Canaanite women. Go
YITZCHAK'S FINAL BLESSING TO YA'AKOV: BE III to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel ... and take a wife
LIKE AVRAHAM 7 there from the daughters of Laban ..." (28:1- 2)
It would seem that Jacob leaves his worries about Esau behind him have told Jacob or signaled to him that she was Leah? And she
at the border and doesn't confront them again until his return to the hid her identity from him the entire night! ... That is why Jacob
Land of Canaan (ch. 32). Our parasha, then, is dominated by Jacob's hated her ... [But] God knew that Leah did it all so that she could
marriages and the growth of his family. marry the righteous Jacob. That is why He had pity on her."
RACHEL AND LEAH The Torah describes Leah as a lonely and unloved woman. Every
This brings us very naturally to Laban's daughters, Rachel and child that she bears is accompanied by a heartfelt wish for
Leah. Jacob intends on marrying Rachel and finds himself married to companionship and love from her husband. It is clear that for years
both sisters. It is these two women (and their handmaids) who "build" Leah experiences palpable disdain and coldness from Jacob. One
the House of Israel. There is tension between them, however, which wonders how Rachel felt towards her. Only on the birth of her fourth
reaches immense proportions at times. The Torah is not shy at child, do we sense relief in Leah's estrangement? Her naming of Judah
recording the friction and the pressure, the hatred and the jealousy, is a song of praise rather than a plea, a desperate prayer. Apparently,
which is present in the home of Jacob. In our study this week, we will things are changing for the better. Does Jacob love her now?
try to examine the unique character of each of these Matriarchs. What Just one other important observation. Up to this point we have
were the features that made them special? And how did this affect the never been given a word of conversation between Jacob and his wives.
Jewish people in future times? The only words that we hear from Leah are between herself and God.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS She seems to pray quietly to herself. She does not appeal to her
"When he (Jacob) had stayed with him (Laban) for a month, Laban husband directly for his attention and love. She appeals to God and
said to Jacob, 'Just because you are my kinsman, should you serve she sits and waits. As for Rachel, she has not uttered a word.
me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?' Now Laban RACHEL'S OUTBURST
had two daughters; the name of the older one was Leah, and the "When Rachel saw that she had borne Jacob no children, she
name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had sensitive eyes; Rachel became envious of her sister; and Rachel said to Jacob, 'Give me
was shapely and beautiful. Jacob loved Rachel; He said, 'I will children, or I shall die.' Jacob was incensed at Rachel and said,
serve you for seven years for your younger daughter Rachel' ... 'Can I take the place of God, who has denied you fruit of the
Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a womb?' She said, 'Here is my handmaid Bilha. Consort with her,
few days because of his love for her." (29:16- 20) that she may bear on my knees and that through her I too may
At the start, we are told of Rachel's beauty and Jacob's love for her. have children.'" (30:1-3)
Jacob - a penniless fugitive - is ready to work for seven years to gain This is the only recorded dialogue between Jacob and Rachel. At
her hand in marriage and his love for her would seem to eclipse any last, the Torah gives us access to Rachel's feelings and we are told of
hardship or trouble that his work gave him. It would not be too much Rachel's jealousy of her sister. One might note that Leah is not
to say that Jacob was besotted by Rachel. mentioned by name here and what is brought to the fore is the primary
LEAH'S EYES fact of her identity as sister (the older-younger tension would seem to
What of Leah? We are told only of her eyes. She is contrasted be a familiar theme by now).
with Rachel. Rachel's beautiful looks and Leah's soft, sensitive or Rachel is jealous of her sister's children. Maybe it is not the
weak eyes. The Hebrew adjective used to describe Leah's eyes is the children per se but rather the effect her children are having on Jacob.
word "rakkot." It is interpreted in multi ple ways by the classic Jacob is becoming closer to Leah. There are strong competitive
commentators. emotions at work here. Rachel's statement is extreme. It is something
The Rashbam reads it as "beautiful and refined." Apparently, of an outburst. "Give me children or I shall die." Rachel demands not
Rachel is beautiful in every way, whereas Leah has only one feature of just a child, not one son, but sons, children. Her language is emotive,
stunning beauty: her eyes. Some see this as an underhand insult. aggressive, hysterical. She DEMANDS that Jacob give her children.
Instead of saying that she was not particularly good -looking, the Torah Jacob's response is stern and possibly a little harsh. Jacob accuses
mentions the redeeming side of her appearance (Hirsch). The Ralbag her as being the source of her own barrenness. God "has denied you
suggests that she had a problem with her eyes, an eye disease which the fruit of the womb." Jacob's language is interesting. He talks not of
affected her otherwise good looks. But the clear conclusion here is of children but the fruit of the womb. Children are dep endent on the
Leah's mediocre looks as opposed to those of her younger sister. womb, they are the fruit of their mother. Why are you turning to me?
Rashi brings the most interesting interpretation. He suggests that Look at yourself.
Leah's eyes are red and weepy from constant crying. The tradition in PRAY FOR ME
the family was that Rachel will be matched with Jacob whereas "the Most commentators understand Rachel's plea to Jacob as a request
elder daughter would marry the elder son." Leah, being the eldest, is for him to pray for her to have children. Rashi's commentary:
set to marry Esau, the other 'eldest.' Leah is a pious girl. She cannot "GIVE ME CHILDREN: Is this how your father and mother acted?
think of anything worse than marrying Esau, a hunting man who does Did your father not pray for your mother? OR I SHALL DIE:
not fear God. She longs to marry Jacob and she has spent her life in From here is the notion that those who have no children are
tears, bemoaning her personal fate. Her tears have made her eyes red considered as dead. GOD HAS WITHHELD FROM YOU: You are
and soft. telling me to act like my father. I am not in his situation. My
In Rashi's reading, we do not see a contrast between the two sisters. father had no children at all. I have children. God has prevented
Rather, both statements can be said to be compliments. Rachel is YOU from having children."
beautiful but Leah's tearful eyes testify to her piety. Or in the interpretation of the Ibn Ezra:
SISTERS AND WIVES. "AM I IN THE PLACE OF GOD?: Am I the one who decides these
On the wedding day, unbeknownst to Jacob, Laban replaces Rachel things? It is possible that Jacob prayed but he had not yet been
with Leah. "And in the morning, behold it was Leah!" (29:25). answered."
Within a week, Jacob marries his rightful bride, Rachel, and commits These commentators see Jacob's response as denying his ability to
himself to another seven years of work. Rachel and Leah are now not change the situation, either because he does not control these events, or
just sisters but rival wives. We are never told explicitly how Leah was because his prayers HAVE been answered. He has children. It is
switched for Rachel. Did Leah comply? Did Rachel cover up for Rachel who must pray now!
Leah? (The midrashim suggest both options.) We can but imagine the Indeed when Rachel eventually has a child, the Torah stresses the
frustrated feelings on all sides: role of her prayer:
"Jacob waited out the bridal week of the one, and then he (Laban) "God remembered Rachel AND GOD LISTENED TO HER and
gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife ... And Jacob cohabited her womb." (30:32) opened
with Rachel also; indeed, he loved Rachel more than Leah." RACHEL HYSTERICAL
(29:28,30) The Ramban expresses surprise at Jacob's insensitivity:
Jacob and Rachel are now married, but it is all very different from "Why did Jacob get angry? Why did he say, 'Am I in the place of
the way that we had expected. The powerful love between Jacob and God?' Doesn't God listen to the righteous? ... Don't the righteous
Rachel has been consummated but not in the way that they had pray on the behalf of others? ... In the Midrash they express
anticipated - "Jacob cohabited with Rachel ALSO." She is the second disapproval: 'Is this how one responds to those who suffer?'"
(Ramban). Their special moment together has been tarni shed. Instead But he adds a different perspective.
of becoming the culmination of their love, their togetherness contains "In truth, she thought that out of his love for her, he would clothe
elements of frustration and disappointment. Leah too is thrust into a himself in sackcloth and ashes and would pray for her ... Jacob
marriage where she is unwanted, unloved. Her place would seem like a got angry because she spoke in the way of the hysterical, trying to
guest who has overstayed her welcome. frighten him with threats of death."
CHILDREN AND TENSION Rachel does not comment on Jacob's rebuke but instead resorts to a
These tensions are demonstrated in the women's desire to produce practical solution. She offers her maidservant Bilha as a concubine to
children for Jacob. Jacob so that her children will be born on Rachel's knees.
"God saw that Leah was unloved and he opened her womb; but This short episode highlights Rachel's desperation. She feels that
Rachel was barren. Leah conceived and bore a son and named her life will be nothing without children. She feels that if Jacob really
him Reuven; for it means: 'The Lord has seen my affliction.' She loves her, he should dedicate his entire being to the fulfillment of this
said, 'Maybe now my husband will love me.' She conceived again need. Maybe Jacob's anger is aroused by the underlying personal insult
and bore a son and declared, 'This is because God heard that I contained in her outburst. You - Jacob - your love is not enough. I
was unloved' ... Again she conceived and bore a son and declared, need more. If I don't have children, I might as well die. And in the
'This time my husband will become attached to me for I have borne end, Rachel prefers to introduce a third woman into the marriage as
three sons'... She conceived again and bore a son and declared, long as she can give fulfillment to this passionate need.
'This time I will praise God;' therefore she named him Judah. DESIRE AND FULFILLMENT
Then she stopped having children." (29:31-35) The motifs that we have highlighted here continue to run through
Leah is unloved. The commentators vary in their understanding of the story of Rachel and Leah. Rachel, despite her apparent preferred
the Hebrew "senu'a." In a literal translation, it means that she was status, seems to be continually yearning for something else. She feels
"hated." Most commentators see her as being "unloved" in comparison that there is certain something that she lacks. The story of the
to Rachel rather than "hated." After all, we are told earlier t hat Jacob mandrakes (see 30:14-16) and her ongoing desire for children highlight
"loved Rachel more than Leah" (29:30), indicative of a certain degree this tendency. Even when she does have a son, he becomes an
of love between Jacob and Leah. expression of her ongoing desire when calls him Yosef: "May God add
The Ramban does not accept this reading. He says: to me another child." And at her potential moment of fulfillment, with
"Leah was hated: After all, she deceived and betrayed her the granting of that prayer and the birth of a second son, she
father when he brought her to the wedding, could she not 8 dies. She dies at the moment of her fulfillment, still unfulfilled.
She calls her second son Ben-Oni, the son of my affliction. do not simply say, forget it; but seek where the responsibility lies in
It is not without a strong sense of irony that Rachel, who expressed yourself. And my wife tells me to add: never end a relationship over
true love and an image of perfection, lives an d dies with such a tragic the telephone; even if an extra date is required, the mitzva involved is
sense of longing, desire and yearning. The beautiful Rachel, who worth it. That way we can all lay claim to the legacy of Bnei Avraham,
romantically appears with her sheep and who Jacob loves at first sight, Yitzchak, and Yaakov.
remains forever expectant, awaiting fulfillment. In the words of Rav C) INDEPTH PARSHAT SHEVUAH
Adin Steinsaltz, "She is perhaps one of the most poignant expressions by Rav Reuven Taragin
of the person who has everything - and yet remains lacking." "MEI-HASHEM YATZA HA-DAVAR": PERCEIVING
It is ironic that Rachel is eternalized in the picture described by the PROVIDENCE
prophet Jeremiah (31:16-17) as a woman in tears. She cries for the I) VAYETZE - AN INDEPENDENT COHESIVE UNIT
children of Israel as they are led into exile. Why does Rachel have this Although Parashat Vayetze presents stories covering more than
task? Why is she the crying mother of the exile? Because she knows twenty years, it contains no breaks. This presentation highlights the
the pain of non-fulfillment. She knows what it is to live a dislocated parasha's status as an independent unit and reflects the relationship
fractured dream. She reflects the yearnings of exile. She understands. between its various stories.
Leah, on the other hand, begins as the unhappiest of the matriarchs. A) Framework
She is lonely and unloved. But it is Leah who becomes the mother of The relationship between the stories is reinforced by the parallels
six of Jacob's sons. It is Leah who is buried in the Cave of Machpela between the beginning and end of the parasha. The parasha opens with
together with Jacob. In a sense, Leah's quiet desire, her prayers for Yaakov's voyage from Canaan on the heels of an angelic dream within
companionship with Jacob, find their fruition. Leah, through her which God promises to be with and protect him in exile and eventually
children and her quiet dedication, achieves a togetherness with Jacob. return him to Canaan and concludes with the ultimate fulfillment of
This difference between the sisters is brought home by their these promises - Yaakov's return. The journey back ends as the first
different responses to childbearing. It is also highlighted by Rachel's one began, with Yaakov's encounter with malakhim.
longing and Leah's calm commitment for Jacob in the story of the Additional textual similarities link the conclusion of the parasha to
mandrakes. its beginning:
TWO LOVES Perek 28 Perakim 31-2 .
Rav Adin Steinsaltz, in his wonderful book, Biblical Images, VAYELEKH Charana... Ve-Yaakov HALAKH le-darko
summarizes the differences between the two relationships: VAYALEN Sham (10) VAYALINU ba-har
"Fundamentally, we have here two kinds of love in all their VAYIFGA ba-makom (11) VAYIFGE'U bo malakhei Elokim
complexity: a romantic love that draws its sustenance from ein zeh ki im BET ELOKIM (16-17) MACHANEH ELOKIM ZEH
longing, from separation and distance, from premature death - a (31:2)
love full of expectation, dreams and memories. On the other hand, VAYASHKEM Yaakov BA-BOKER.. VAYASHKEM Lavan BA-
we have the love of a faithful woman, the woman who remains BOKER
beside her husband, works and struggles in the daily round with (31:55)
him, bears him most of his children, and whose love and is VAYIKACH et HA-EVEN... VAYIKACH Yaakov EVEN...
constant, stable, and real. Leah's relationship was without the vayasem ota MATZEIVA (18) vaye'rimeha MATZEIVA (31:45)
drama, the elation, and the dejection that characterized his love Vayikra et shem ha-makom ha-hu Vayikra shem ha-makom ha-hu
for Rachel. In a sense, she was the romantic .. Leah, the mature Bet El (19) Machanaim (32:2) .
and faithful wife."B) Structure
THE FUTURE Within the framework of Yaakov's departure from and return to
There is a powerful epilogue to this story with a ll its tension and Canaan, the Torah presents five stories pertaining to the interim exile
rivalry. Whereas this story is simply a tale of two sisters, two wives, years. Like the opening and concluding portions of the parasha, these
the Bible tends to weave larger patterns with wider historical stories also exhibit a distinct relationship:
implications. The tension between Leah and Rachel continues through A 28:10-24 - Yaakov's departure / angels
their children and the tribes that they found. B 29:1-14 - Yaakov's escape to Lavan
Be it the tension between Joseph (Rachel's firstborn) and Judah C 29:15-30 - Yaakov's labor for his wives
(the leader of Leah's tribes) when they face each other over the fate of D 29:31-30:24- The birth of the children
Benjamin, or later in the Bible, when the kingdom of Judah splits from C 30:25-42- Yaakov's labor for money
the Kingdom of Ephraim, the tension and rivalry is always there. B 30:43-31:55- Yaakov's escape from Lavan
Interestingly, Rachel's characters are always known for their good A 32:1-2- Yaakov's return / angels
looks but are often ephemeral, transient figures. Be it Joseph, Joshua The births at the center of the parasha's structure seems
bin Nun, or King Saul, they are figures with great charisma but no at first glance to be out of place. How does the birth
continuation. Leah's descendants lead us in a direct line to David, the narrative, which seems to convey mere technical data, function
man who put the Nation of Israel on its feet, who established the as the parasha's turning point? We will see that in addition
monarchy and made Israel into a viable nation state. to expressing Yaakov's ability to flourish in exile, the
Indeed, in the end of days, we are told of two messiahs. The births also re- define the preceding stories and introduce the
Messiah of the son of Joseph is the herald of the redemption who will following ones. This point becomes more evident after a
bring the volatile birthpangs of the Redemption. He will activate the careful study of the birth narrative.
process but will not give it stability. That is left to the Messiah - son II) THE BIRTH NARRATIVE
of David. It is he - descendant of Leah - who will establish the A) Structure
permanent Kingdom of God. The birth narrative, like the entirety of the parasha, subdivides into
B) SICHOT ROSH YESHIVA two chiasticly related sections:
Harav Yehuda Amital Shlit"A A 29: 31-5- Birth of four children to Lea
ON MENSCHLICHKEIT B 30: 1-2- Story (Not of birth)
"And Yaakov kissed Rachel; and he raised his voice and wept ." C 30: 3-8- Birth of two children to Rachel's maid
(Bereishit 29:11) C 30: 9-13- Birth of two children to Lea's maid
When I was in kindergarten, my melamed explained this verse to B 30:14-16- Story (Not of birth)
me as follows: when Yaakov saw Rachel, overcome with emotion, he A 30:17-24- Birth of four children to Lea/Rachel
kissed her. His crying, however, stemmed from his repentance for this B) Message
lapse. Both sections describe God's favoring of one sister and the reaction
What have we come to, that we must react negatively to the display of the other. The difference between the two secti ons lies in the sister
of emotion, passion, and even romance!? Romance has a positive chosen as benefactor. In the first section God "opens the womb" of Lea
connotation in our worldview. The Holy One, Blessed Be He, created while closing that of Rachel. Lea chooses names for her children that
angels, and he created people. He created people to feel emotions and reflect her recognition of and thanks to God for his merciful
use them for His service - both fear and trepidation, as well as joy and intervention. Rav Shimon Bar Yochai highlighted this thanks by
happiness. Part of divine service is to enjoy God's world, and pursue identifying Lea as the first to offer thanks to God (Berakhot 7a).
normal human activities within the framework of holiness and worship. After listing Lea's four births, the Torah depicts Rachel's reaction.
One who loves people can also come through it to love of God and Instead of turning to God, the sole granter of child, she assails Yaakov.
His commandments. If the Kadosh Baruch Hu had wanted to create The latter stresses her error by angrily retorting - "Am I in place of
only angels, He would have done so, and who are we to question His God, Who has denied you fruit of the womb" (30:2). Only after her
creation? misplaced complaint does Rachel grudgingly offer her maid in her
The approach that I am opposing comes from some people's place.
overestimation of their own worth and their place in the world. Some The second section opens with Lea's realization of the termination
feel that their observance and knowledge gives them the right to say of God's providence on her behalf - "Lea saw that she had ceased to
that, "My place is above everyone else; humanity is not for me." But give birth" (30:9) ." Although we now expect Rachel to be the next
when one does not care for others, when he cannot sympathize with to give birth, God "hears" her (22) only after "hearing" Lea (17). One
their feelings and perspectives, one also cannot feel for the perspective wonders why Rachel is heard so late in the story and in far lesser
of HaKadosh Baruch Hu. "There is no room in this world for both Me proportion than Lea?
and the ba'al ga'ava (haughty person)," says God, according to the The answer lies in the structure of the narrative which focuses on
midrash. the divergent reactions of the two sisters to the same circumstances. As
One of the things that personally hurts me the most is when I hear opposed to Rachel who offers her maid only after having incorrectly
of yeshiva graduates using their yeshiva "credentials" as a licence to complained to Yaakov, Lea immediately presents her maid in her place.
mistreat others. Who do they think they are!? Just because you are a Like the first matriarch - Sarah, as soon as Lea realizes that she can no
"yeshiva bochur" you do not need to concern yourself with the feelings longer contribute personally, she selflessly steps aside and hopes to
of others? continue to do so vicariously.
While I know that this is not applicable yet to many of you, let me The difference between the two is expressed through the second
give you some advice on how to handle yourselves when the time story - that of the mandrakes - as well. Notwithstanding the symbolism
comes for you to seek a partner - someone who is not just compatible of the mandrakes, Rachel's sale of a night with Yaakov reflects a
with you, but who is important to your life. Do not focus only on your denigrating lack of appreciation of the sanctity of the conception
needs and wants, but also on hers. Call frequently, and do not experience. The Ramban's appraisal of the mandrakes as
blame her for your own faults. When things do not work out, 9 fertility flowers attributes new significance to the transaction.
Rachel has not yet realized the need to rely on God. There is no reason on the belief in providence's universal consistency.
not to utilize the available medicine, but doing so at the expense of a NOTE:
night with her husband reflects once again Rachel's improper value This difference between the two sections accounts for the 
system (see Sforno). alternative usages of God's various names. In the first section Lea calls
Leah, on the other hand, recognizes God's exclusive role as bearer God "Hashem" while Rachel calls him "Elokim," whereas in the second
of the "birth key" and happily exchanges the flowers for an additional section Lea calls Him "Elokim" while Rachel employs both names.
night with Yaakov and another window for God's providence. God Chazal's association of "Hashem" with justice and Elokim with mercy
rewards Lea's faith with three more children - two boys and Dina. explains the switch. In the first section Lea realizes that her exclusive
Based on the parallel to the first section and a fair basis of distribution, births are the expression of God's merciful intervention on her behalf,
all four boys should have been born to Rachel; two were given to Lea while Rachel claims what she sees as hers by right. In the second
in recognition of her exemplary faith. section Leah realizes that now she is being discri minated against and
In an ironic note, the midrash concludes: that she receives children in merit of her faithful actions and therefore
"One lost and the other lost; one gained and the other gained. refers to God in her thanks as Elokim. Since Rachel surely deserved at
Lea lost the mandrakes and gained two tribes and the firstborn; least one child, she thanks Elokim for Yosef, but beseeches Hashem to
Rachel gained the mandrakes and lost tribes and the firstborn" graciously grant her a second.
(Bereishit Rabba 72,2).
Eventually, even Rachel concedes that God, not Yaakov or 7 - TANACH STUDY CENTER
mandrakes, grants child and beseeches Him with the birth of her first Is it proper to doubt a Divine promise? Certainly, if God makes a
child for a second. Her request, rooted in her painfully learned lesson, promise, we'd expect Him to keep it! Why then does Yaakov Avinu vow
is eventually granted, but at the cost of her life. to worship God only IF (and when) God will fulfill His promise to
C) Role as Turning Point return him to the Promised Land? [See 28:20-22.]
The message of the birth narrative facilitates the transition from Furthermore, why should Yaakov make a "neder" (vow) at all? After
the first to second section of the parasha. Despite God's promises to all, neither Avraham or Yitzchak ever made any sort of conditional vow
Yaakov at the parasha's inception, the first section brings Yaakov only after receiving their Divine promises!
frustration. Although he safely reaches his destination, his stay with Why is Yaakov different?
Lavan soon turns into backbreaking work on behalf of a wife he doesn't In this week's shiur, in our study of God's "hitgalut" (revelation) to
actually receive. The reader cannot help but wonder how God allowed Yaakov at Bet-El, we attempt to explain why.
such a thing? What happened to the promised protective aid? [Part I will focus more on 'parshanut', while Part II is a revised
While the first part of the parasha reinforces the hidden nature of version of last year's shiur.]
God's providence within it by not mentioning His name, the birth PART I - YAAKOV'S NEDER
narrative compensates by mentioning His name fourteen times. Within INTRODUCTION
the narrative, we are presented with Lea's recognition of God's Thus far in Sefer Breishit, God had appeared to Avraham &
exclusive control of nature. Appropriately, Yaakov's unintended wife Yitzchak several times. In our shiurim, we have shown how with each
directs Yaakov and us to recognize God's hand, even in its obscurity. "hitgalut", another aspect (or stage) of the "bechira" p rocess unfolds.
Only after Lea's clarification does God reveal His providence - first Now, at the beginning of Parshat Va'yetze, we find God's FIRST
in the form of the angel who assists Yaakov in outsmarting Lavan and "hitgalut" to Yaakov (see 28:10-17). Even though God's promise in this
finally by personally intervening to secure Yaakov's escape. "hitgalut" echoes His earlier promises to Avraham and Yitzchak,
III) THE SECOND PART OF THE PARASHA - PROVIDENCE Yaakov's reaction is quite different - Yaakov makes a "neder".
PERCEIVED To understand why, we must first consider Yaakov's predicament
The second part of the parasha leaves no doubt as to providence's BEFORE God appears to him at Bet-el..
presence by depicting its recognition by all characters. SOMETHING TO WORRY ABOUT
A) Yaakov and Family Recall from last week's shiur that the Avot themselves were not quite
First Yaakov realizes (after sensing Lavan's unwarranted jealousy) sure exactly WHEN or HOW the process of BECHIRA would finally
that it has been "only the God of his fathers" (31:5) who has cared for end. In Parshat Toldot it became clear that the process would continue
him. The angel's aid in outsmarting Lavan proved to Yaakov that the for at least one more generation - either Yaakov OR Esav would be
angels he had seen at his journey's inception had indeed remained with chosen. Therefore, at the end of that episode Yitzchak blesses Yaakov
him all along. with "birkat Avraham" (see 28:3-4) - i.e. that he should be the 'chosen
Yaakov makes this point to his wives - Lavan's daughters - and son'.
challenges them to fulfill God's command to abandon their home and Despite his father's blessing, Yaakov has ample reason to doubt that
family. Lea and Rachel, the first to have recognized God's providence, he is indeed the 'chosen son'.
of course immediately concede (31:17). By doing so they reaffirm First of all, only the day before, his father had planned on giving a
their place in the family of Avraham and Rivka, who likewise primary blessing to his brother Esav. Secondly, Yaakov's parents had
abandoned their families in compliance with God's will. just sent him AWAY from Eretz Canaan - to flee from Esav and look for
B) Lavan a wife (see 27:43-28:2). Now, if Yaakov was truly the chosen son, then
The ultimate recognition of God's providence comes from Lavan in it should have been forbidden for him to leave Eretz Canaan, just as it
the context of his pursuit of Yaakov. Despite God's demand that Lavan had been forbidden for his father Yitzchak to leave.
refrain from telling Yaakov "good or bad" (31:24), Lavan proceeds [Recall that during the famine, God did not allow Yitzchak to go
with his verbal attack. Although Lavan realizes that he will not down to Egypt (see 26:1-3). Likewise, when Yitzchak needed a wife,
succeed in repossessing his family and possessions, he feels that he Eliezer travelled to Padan Aram to bring Rivka back - Yitzchak did not
bears a just claim. Was he not the catalyst of Yaakov's growth? Did travel there.]
he not offer Yaakov refuge, work, and a wife when the latter had Finally, when Yitzchak's brothers were rejected from the "bechira"
nowhere to turn? Did he not deserve at least to be informed of process, they were sent away to the EAST (see 25:6). Now, Yaakov
Yaakov's migration? Additionally, Lavan is intent on finding his gods himself is being sent away to the EAST (see 29:1)!
who he views as responsible for his, as well as Yaakov's, success. [Even though his father had blessed him and his mother had
When Lavan first arrives, Yaakov allows him to vent his promised that she will send for him as soon as it was 'safe' (see 27:45),
frustration, but his aggressive, suspicious search of Yaakov's Yaakov could have understood this as a 'nice way' for his parents to bid
possessions as if they were his own forces Yaakov to respond. Yaakov him farewell.]
reminds Lavan that despite Yaakov's faithful service, Lavan took every Even beyond these worries, Yaakov stills requires a Divine
opportunity to deceive him - "Had not the God of Avraham and the confirmation of his father's blessing. Recall that Yitzchak only blessed
Fear of Yitzchak been with me, you would have sent me now away Yaakov that GOD should award him the "bechira":
empty-handed. God saw my plight and the toil of my hands and He "...and Kel Shakai should bless you and GRANT you the blessing of
showed it last night" (31:42). Avraham..." (28:3-4).
Yaakov explains the true significance of the heavenly revelation. Recall that only God determines WHO will be chosen. The Avot can
God's protection of Yaakov reflected His exclusive role in his success. give blessings to their children, but in regard to the "bechira" process
By protecting Yaakov God was merely asserting his deserved right to itself, it is God Himself who makes the final decision of which son will
Yaakov; Lavan deserved not even the right to give his blessing. God be chosen.
used the phrase "tov ad ra" (good or bad) to remind Lavan of the For all or any of these reasons, it is easy to understand why Yaakov
conclusion he himself had reached as a youngster after having heard may have been in need of some 'divine reassurance' before he embarks
the providential story of Avraham's servant - "And Lavan and Betuel on his journey to Padan Aram!
said: It has come from God; we cannot tell you anything bad or good YAAKOV HAS A DREAM
(ra o tov)" (24:50). In addition to God's revelation to Lavan, his With this backdrop, we can better understand both the nature of
inability to find his own gods was meant to signify their and his own God's opening "hitgalut" to Yaakov at Bet-El, as well as Yaakov's
irrelevance to Yaakov's success. reaction.
C) Yaakov's Matzeivot First - God must confirm Yaakov's "bechira", that he is indeed the
The meeting ends with Lavan's request to formalize a treaty. chosen son. Therefore, this is God's opening message to Yaakov in his
Yaakov responds by constructing two stone structures - a "matzeiva" prophetic dream:
(45) and a "gal" (46). Significantly, the creation of the matzeiva "I am the Lord, the God of Avraham and Yitzchak, the LAND
precedes that of the gal and is carried out by Yaakov alone. Before ["aretz"] upon which you are lying, I have given to YOU and YOUR
assenting to Lavan's request and joining him in the construction of the OFFSPRING ["zera"]... and through you all the nations of the
gal, which symbolized their mutual treaty, Yaakov expressed his thanks earth shall be blessed." (28:13-14)
to the one truly responsible for his success - God. The matzeiva Note the use of the key words - "zera" (offspring) and "aretz" (the
created here parallels the one Yaakov constructed in response to God's Land). These are typical of God's earlier blessings of "bechira" to
promises at the beginning of the parasha. By constructing this second Avraham and Yitzchak (see 12:7, 13:15, 15:18, 17:8, & 26:3), and thus
matzeiva, Yaakov expressed his appreciation of God's fulfillment of th e confirm Yaakov's "bechira", despite his reasonable doubts.
promises He made during the angelic vision which Yaakov had [Additional key phrases from earlier blessings, such as "afar
commemorated by creating the first. ha'aretz", are also repeated in these psukim. Part II of this week's shiur
Yaakov's recognition of the consistent providence shown to him discusses their significance.]
during his years in exile with Lavan readied him for his return to Despite these similarities, in the third and final pasuk of this
Canaan and his encounter with Eisav and serves as the "hitgalut" we find a totally new type of divine promise:
precedent for his descendants - a nation whose ideology centers 10 "And behold, I will be with you, and I will protect you
wherever you go and will bring you back to this Land..." (28:15) PART II - HA'MAKOM, BET EL, & BET HA'MIKDASH
This extra promise clearly relates to Yaakov's current predicament. INTRODUCTION
God must allay Yaakov's fears by assuring him that EVEN THOUGH he In our introduction to Part I, we explained how God's opening
is leaving Eretz Canaan, nonetheless, God will remain with him, take "hitgalut" to Yaakov carried both the primary theme of "zera v'aretz" as
care of him, and ultimately bring him back - BECAUSE he indeed is the well as some additional elements from previous promises to Avraham
'chosen son'. Avinu.
YAAKOV'S REACTION Let's take a careful look at the second pasuk of this "hitgalut:
Yaakov's immediate reaction to this "hitgalut" is his realization that "And your offspring shall be like the AFAR HA'ARETZ, and you
there must be something special about this site (see 28:16), and thus shall spread out to the WEST, EAST, NORTH, and SOUTH ('ya'ma
declares that it should become a "bet Elokim" - a house for God (see v'kayd'ma, tzafona, v'negba), and through you all the nations of the
28:17). [The deeper meaning of this realization is also discussed in Part earth shall be blessed" (28:14)
II.] Note the first two phrases, (a) "afar ha'aretz" and (b) "east west,
Then, early in the morning, most probably after contemplating God's north & south". Both these two phrases had been mentioned only ONCE
promise, Yaakov makes a conditional "neder" (vow). Note that Yaakov before - specifically when God's affirmed the BECHIRA to Avraham at
first sets up a monument in preparation for this vow: BET-EL (after Lot's departure to Sdom):
"Yaakov woke up early in the morning and took the stone that was "And God said to Avram, after Lot had parted from him, Raise your
under his head and set it up as a "matzeyva h" (monument) and then eyes and look out... to the NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, & WEST, for I
poured oil on it... Then Yaakov made a VOW saying: IF God will be give you all the LAND which you see... I will make your offspring
with me..."(28:18-20) like the AFAR HA'ARETZ..." (13:14-16)
[At the end of his vow, Yaakov promises that this stone will become the [Note (by reading 13:1-13 carefully) that this affirmation also took
cornerstone of a Bet Elokim. Therefore, he pours oil onto it as a type of place at Bet El!]
dedication ceremony (similar to "chanukat ha'Mishkan" in Bamidbar Now, recall from our shiur on Parshat Lech L'cha that Bet -El is the
7:1).] focal point of Avraham's "aliya" from both Mesopotamia and Egypt.
A CONDITION OR A PROMISE? Twice we find at Bet El that Avraham builds a mizbaya ch and "calls out
Now, let's take a closer look at the "neder" itself. Note that it in God's name" (12:8, 13:4). This act, we explained, symbolizes the
contains two parts: ultimate mission of God's special nation - to make God's name known to
1) a CONDITION - IF... ; followed by: all mankind (see Ramban 12:8). Therefore, the repetition of these two
2) a PROMISE (i.e. the vow) - THEN... key phrases, in God's first "hitgalut" to Yaakov emphasizes not only his
However, it is not quite clear precisely where the IF clause ends and the "bechira", but also its PURPOSE.
THEN clause begins. Therefore, before we can determine WHY Yaakov [Hence, it is not by chance then when Yaakov wakes up, he
makes this "neder", we must first determine more precisely WHAT his immediately realizes that he has slept in BET-EL (see 28:17).]
"neder" is. Similarly, the third phrase in this pasuk - "and through you all the
Before we continue, I suggest that you first read this pasuk nations of the earth shall be blessed" ["v'nivrchu bcha kol mish'pchot
(preferably in the original Hebrew, if not in the translation below), and ha'adama"] - is also a 'repeat' from earlier blessings. In fact, it is
try to determine for yourself where the IF... ends, and where the mentioned in the OPENING "hitgalut" to both Avraham (12:3) AND
THEN... begins. Let's take a look: Yitzchak (26:4), and now in the opening "hitgalut" to Yaakov!
"And Yaakov then made a vow saying: . 1 [Note that this phrase is also repeated when God consults with
IF God remains with me, . 2 Avraham before destroying Sdom (18:18), and also when God makes an
and He protects me on this journey that I am making, . 3 oath to Avraham after the Akeyda (22:18).]
and gives me bread to eat and clothes to wear. . 4 From a thematic perspective, it is quite understandable why this
And I return safe to my father's house, . 5phrase must be emphasized to each of the Avot. The goal of - "v'nivrchu
and [or then?] Hashem will be my God. . 6 bcha kol mish'pchot ha'adama" - reflects the ultimate PURPOSE of
And [or then?] this stone, which I have set up as a pillar will be a . 7 God's special nation: through Am Yisrael, all the nations of the world
BET ELOKIM will be blessed, i.e. through the leadership and guidance of Am Yisrael,
and all that You give me, I will set aside a tithe for You." . 8every nation will have the capability of developing a proper relationship
(28:20-22) with God.
Now the first four clauses are definitely part of the C ONDITION, for Thus, the second pasuk in this "hitgalut" serves as a reminder to
they reflect precisely what God had just promised Yaakov in his dream Yaakov of BOTH the mission and purpose of his BECHIR A.
several psukim earlier. [Compare with 28:15!] Similarly, the last two In summary, the first pasuk of God's first "hitgalut" to Yaakov
clauses are definitely part of the vow, for they describe Yaakov's intent confirms his BECHIRA (28:13), the second pasuk emphasizes his
to later establish a Bet Elokim at the site of this monument upon his mission and purpose (28:14), while in the third pasuk, God assures
return. However, the middle clause (5) - "and Hashem will be my God" Yaakov that even though he is going into exile, God will be with him
can go either way. and will bring him back to Eretz Canaan (28:15).
This clause, as either a condition or a promise, is very difficult to YAAKOV'S REALIZATION
understand. With this background, we can better understand why Yaakov's
First of all, it doesn't appear to be a condition for two basic reasons: reaction is to vow to build a Bet Elokim at this site upon his return.
a) It does not reflect God's promise is 28:15 as the other clauses do. Recall that when Yaakov wakes up, he immediately recognizes that
b) It this is indeed a condition, then it does not add anything more to there is something unique about this place:
what Yaakov stated in his first clause -"if God will be with me". "And Yaakov woke up from his sleep and proclaimed: How
On the other hand, it does not appear to be a vow either, for how awesome is this place (ha'Makom)! This is none other than the
could Yaakov possibly state that he will accept Hashem as his God, house of God [BET ELOKIM] and the gate to Heaven [SHAAR
only IF God fulfills His promises! Could it possibly be that Yaakov HA'SHAMAYIM]." (28:16)
Avinu so 'spoiled' that he will only accept God if God is good to him? Obviously, the vision of angels ascending and descending the ladder
Most all of the classical commentators attempt to tackle this (see 28:11-12) leads Yaakov to conclude that this site is "shaar
question. ha'shamayim" - the gate to heaven. However, what prompts Yaakov to
Rashi and Rashbam explain that it is indeed a CONDITION. Rashi proclaim that this site is also a "Bet Elokim".
brilliantly solves the first problem (a) raised above by explaining that The simplest answer would be to connect both points of Yaakov's
even though this was not promised directly to Yaakov, it was promised statement, i.e. the very fact that this site is a 'gate to heaven' makes it
to Avraham Avinu at brit milah - "l'hiyot l'cha l'Elokim" (see 17:7-8). the appropriate site for a 'House of God'. However, the conclusion of
Now that Yaakov is the 'chosen son', it applies to Yaakov as well! "Bet Elokim" is stated BEFORE "shaar ha'shamayim". Furthermore,
Rashbam solves the second problem (b) by explaining this clause sim ply each conclusion is stated separately. Hence, this suggests that each
as a summary (or generalization) of the first three clauses. statement has its own particular reason.
On the other hand, Ramban, Radak, and Sforno all explain this BET-EL & BET ELOKIM
clause as the VOW. They all solve the problem raised above, (that A deeper interpretation can be suggested, based on our above
Yaakov appears to accept God only on condition), by explai ning that comparison between this "hitgalut" to Yaakov (28:14) and the "hitgalut"
Yaakov vows to INTENSIFY his relationship with God should (or to Avraham at BET EL (13:14-16).
actually WHEN) God fulfills His promise. Surely, not matter what may As we explained above, the two common phrases, "afar ha'aretz" and
happen, Hashem will always remain Yaakov's God, but if (or when) he "yama v'keydma...", indicate to Yaakov that this is the same site where
returns 'home', Yaakov now promises to then ded icate his entire life to Avraham Avinu built a MIZBAYACH and 'called out in God's Name'.
God's service. Hence, Yaakov's vow continues with the promise to build Thus Yaakov concludes that this site is a BET ELOKIM - for the very
a Bet Elokim - a house for God where Yaakov himself will attend to its purpose of a Bet Elokim to offer korbanot and proclaim God's Name -
needs. and hence, the name Bet-El.
[I recommend that you see these "parshanim" inside.] [Btw, Ramban [See the Ramban's commentary to Breishit 12:8 for an explanation
adds an additional pirush, which he refers to as "sod", that explains the of the significance of "calling out in the Name of God" at Bet El.
clause as neither a condition or a vow, but rather a STATEMENT OF Review also Devarim 12:5-12, noting the special phrase used numerous
FACT. Yaakov simply states that WHEN he returns home to Eretz times in Sefer Dvarim to describe the Mikdash - "ha'MAKOM asher
Canaan, then (de-facto) it will be possible 'for Hashem to become his yivchar HASHEM l'shakein SHMO sham".]
God', for outside of the Land of Israel it is impossible to develop the If our assumptions thus far are correct, then it would have made
fullest relationship with God. (I've toned Ramban's statement down a bit more sense for Yaakov, upon awakening, to follow Avraham's
in translation - see it inside (28:21) for a bit of a shocker.)] 'footsteps' and build a mizbayach and 'call out in God's Name'. Why
Based on all of the above explanations, Yaakov's intention now then does set up a "matzeyvah" and make "neder" instead?
becomes clear. Yaakov's "neder" does not reflect in any manner his To answer this question, once again we must consider Yaakov's
doubt that God may not fulfill His promise. Rather, it reflects his predicament. Yaakov is 'on the run', fleeing from his brother Esav, and
readiness to fulfill the divine purpose for his "bechira", now confirmed! on his way to Padan Aram. At this point in time, he is in no condition
Instead of merely thanking God for this promise, Yaakov initiates a (or position) to 'call out in God's Name'. No one is around to listen, and
reciprocal relationship. Because it now becomes clear to him that he is Esav may be on his trail! Unlike Avraham who was considered by the
indeed the 'chosen son', Yaakov volunteers to establish a House for God local population as "prince of God in our midst" (see 23:6), Yaakov is
- a site where the divine purpose for his "bechira" can be realized. apparently much less 'popular'.
In Part II, we explain what aspect of Yaakov's dream led him Even though this is the same site where Avraham built a
specifically to this conclusion. 11 mizbayach, Yaakov realizes that he is no position to do so.
Nonetheless, despite his present predicament, Yaakov hopes that one the small synagogue which the local community has allowed us to use.
day he will indeed return and fulfill that very same goal. Therefore, he After much work and months of waiting, the first buds of success are
marks this spot by erecting a "matzeyvah" and anoint ing it with oil beginning to appear, with Hashem's help. But the work is so great and
(28:18) - thus designating it as the cornerstone for his future Bet - we are not the ones to complete it. Hungarian Jewry is like dry,
Elokim. Then he makes his "neder" that WHEN he does return, and crumbling bones and if we do not hurry to its aid, who knows whether
conditions permit (see next week's shiur), he will establish a Bet -Elokim the children of our straying brothers will be Jewish, G-d forbid.
at this site, in order that he can build a mizbayach there and call out in Lately, a book has been published here by a Jewish writer who
God's Name. reveals that most of the writers, poets, singers and actors in Hungary
Hence, Yaakov's "neder" reflects not only Yaakov's understanding of during the last century, are Jews! This means that our grandparents'
the PURPOSE of his "bechira", but also his hope to one day be able to generation had an extremely poor knowledge of Judaism, therefore to
fulfill that destiny. As we explained in previous shiurim, Avraham was the present generation this terrible situation seems natural. But it is so
chosen for a purpose, IN ORDER to establish a Nation that will brings obvious to a sensitive heart how their i nner suffering is darkening their
God's message to all mankind. A "House of God" - the Bet Ha'Mikdash soul! I do not stop praying for the ingathering of all the exiles, and I
- serves as a vehicle to fulfill that purpose. Therefore, Yaakov vows that hope we have succeeded in revealing to their hearts even a small ray of
should God fulfill His promise of the BECHIRA by returning him to the the great light we see in our land day and night.
Promised Land, he will fulfill the purpose of that BECHIRA by Thank G-d, we are making contact with more and more young Jews
establishing a "Bet Elokim". who are showing an interest in Judaism. If dozens of Jews would bring
BET-EL / A SPIRITUAL INTERSECTION their families and friends and their friends' friends here, we would be
In this week's Parsha we find the first biblical mention of "Bet able to grow into a great and mighty army.
Elokim", a House of God. Although mentioned only once in Sefer My family is also becoming stronger in their attraction to Judaism
Breishit, this concept of a "House of God" is fundamental, for it and Israel. I received a call-up from the army for Adar I for my reserve
presupposes the possibility that man can visit that house , and thus duty, and after considering the gains against the losses, I have decided
improve his relationship with God. to forward my return to Israel in order to arrive in time… Somethin g
Yaakov's description of this site as both "shaar ha'shamayim" and else I feel a need to tell my Rav, which I have not revealed to a soul to
"Bet Elokim" can help us understand the nature and purpose of the Bet this day, is that I feel a very strong impulse which is forcing me to stop
ha'Mikdash and how it represents the potential of our relationship wi th every other activity and "close myself off" at long last in a yeshiva. I
God. will not be able to oppose it for much longer. I hope that my letter finds
The "shaar ha'shamayim" aspect, angels ascending and descending the Rav and his family in good health.
from Heaven, suggests the possibility of a 'vertical' relationship, i.e. a With best wishes,
conceptual connecting point between Heaven and Earth. Despite God's Gavriel Hirschberg
transcendence, a connection, and thus a relationship, is possible. AROUND THE SHABBAT TABLE
In contrast, the 'Bet Elokim' aspect, a HOUSE on earth where Man Rav Azriel Ariel
can encounter God, implies a potential 'lateral' relationship, i.e. this site "And Ya'akov left… and he went towards Haran". It is not only
acts both as a center for congregation, and also as the focus for Ya'akov who leaves, the whole of Am Yisrael leaves with him. This
dissemination. From this site, God's word and reputation can be spread departure is the archetype of many other departures which come in the
to all mankind. story which follows. Many thousands of Ya'akov's descendants left
[See Yeshayahu 2:1-5! / This centrality may be reflected by the their land in the various generations, because their enemies were
unique phrase at Bet El: "yama v'kaydme, tzfona, v'negba", which may chasing after them. If Avraham's departure to Egypt comes to pave the
symbolize this 'dissemination to all four corners of the earth'.] way for his great-grandchildren who went down into the Egyptian exile
From God's perspective the "shchina" descends to earth by way of dozens of years later, then Ya'akov's departure from Eisav comes to
"shaar ha'shamayim" and radiates via "Bet Elokim" (in the form of His pave the way for all of the exiles which followed. "The deeds of the
Torah) to all of mankind. From man's perspective, we gather at the "Bet fathers - are signs for the sons".
Elokim" to serve God, and through the "shaar ha'shamayim" we can It is for this reason that clear divine guidance is necessary in order
climb the 'ladder' of holiness. to understand the secret of the exile. The history of the whole of
FOR FURTHER IYUN mankind passes through the dream of the ladder: the ladder whos e legs
A. Note the emphasis and repetition of the word "ha'Makom" in this Parsha - 28:11,16,17,19. Note also in are firmly on the ground of the present and which turns towards the
Parshat Lech Lcha, 13:14, at the Akeyda 22:4, and in Se fer Dvarim 12:5,11,14,18.
1. Try to explain the reason for this emphasis and repetition, specifically in these parshiot. future, eternity, Heavenward.
2. Use this to explain Chazal's opinion that this site was the same site as the Akeyda on Har Ha'Moriah, and
eventually the site of the Bet HaMikdash in Yerushalayim. Am Yisrael does not expect only one enslavement and only one
3. Read Ramban on 28:17 (including Rashi whom he quotes). Relate this Ramban and his machloket with
Rashi to the above shiur.
exile on its long journey. Four kingdoms climb the ladder one after the
B. Read Rashi on Breishit 2:7. Note his two explanations from the Midrash on that pasuk "vayitzer Hashem other: Bavel, Paras, Yavan and Edom. Ya'akov realizes that he must
Elokym et ha'adam afar min hadama": pave the difficult way for his sons, by his departure into exile. He has
a) "afar" from Har Ha'Moriah
b) "afar" from the four corners of the earth. much cause for concern on his way. He does not know how long his
Relate to these two opinions based on the analysis explained in this week's shiur.
C. Relate this last section of this shiur to two well known Midrashim: exile will last, nor how he will be able to return. In his d ream he sees
1. Opposite "Yerushalayim shel matah" exists a "Yerushalayim shel maaleh". [Relate this to "shaar
ha'shamayim"]/ Taanit 5a
the ministers of the nations rising and then falling, but Eisav's minister
2. Yerushalaim is known in the Midrash Tanchuma as "taburo (navel) shel olam" - umbilicus of the world. he does not see falling. The end is hidden and not revealed to him. The
[Relate this to Bet Elokim and 'four directions'.] end of the two thousand years of exile have not been made known to
D. Several related questions to think about which relate to next week's Parsha as well.
1. Does Yaakov actually fulfill this "neder" when he returns? him.
2. Is this "neder" fulfilled by Am Yisrael, if so when.
3. Relate Yaakov's "galut" and his "neder" to the principal of "maase avot siman l'banim" and Jewish Even the dream did not release him from the penetrating doubt and
history. he asks, "Until when?" but at the top of the ladder comes the lofty
Divine glance, which looks out on the whole of history from the aspect
8 - MACHON MEIR of eternity, "And behold, Hashem is standing upon it", and He says to
GAVRIEL HIRSCHBERG HY"D him, "I am with you and I will guard you wherever you go, and I will
"Rabba said - Yerushalayim was only destroyed because 'people of faith' return you to this land, for I shall not leave you…"
ceased from it as it says, 'Wander the streets of Yerushalayim and DOUBLE WOMAN
please see and know and search in her courtyards if there is someone Rav Shlomo Aviner
who does justice, who searches for faith, and I will pardon her'" The Yisrael is Yashar-El the lofty divine spiritual level which is beyond
Vilna Gaon, when he came to guide his generation and the generations complications, and it is Ya'akov - who follows the twists and turns of
to come, how to build the nation on its way to complete redemption, the material world to organize it in a fit way, who comes to Haran. He
explains that in order to correct the flaw of the destruction of is the single man who is capable of rolling the stone from the mouth of
Yerushalayim that "people of faith" have ceased to be there, we must the well. This is his art, "Pushing away the obstacles which pre vent the
raise "People of faith". waters of the divine spring from spreading out and giving life to the
People of faith are righteous people who act on behalf of the Klal universe". Such a double man needs two wives. Having more than one
and they are perfected in their Torah and their midoth, they do not wife at home is complicated. Both women are called "Tzara", trouble, in
depend on others, they elevate their midoth, they belong in Klal relation to the other. Here too there are troubles, "One is beloved and
Yisrael, pure of desires, innovate the Torah and activities for the Klal, the other hated", yet it is through both of them together that the House
fight courageously on behalf of the Klal and unite with the Holy One, of Yisrael is built, through the complexities: "As Rahel and Leah who
Blessed be He. built both of them the House of Yisrael".
The prophet Yirmiyahu cries out, "Wander the streets of Rahel's nature is clear: "Behold, Rahel, his daughter is coming with
Yerushalayim and please see and know and search in her courtyards", the sheep". Just like Rivka in her day, who comes with her father's
he prophesies the destruction and begs that we roam through the alley - sheep to the well and draws water for Eliezer and all his camels with
ways of Yerushalayim and search for someone who does justice and practical, open kindness, so too does Rahel. "She is of beautiful
searches for faith. If we do find such a person, the Holy One, Blessed countenance well favored", her beauty and refinement are obvious to the
be He will forgive the whole of Yerushalayim. eye. Ya'akov's relationship with her is open and natural: "and Ya'akov
, Gavriel's friends, who wander the alleyways and the courtyards of kissed Rahel, "and Ya'akov told Rahel that he is her father's brother" -
Yerushalayim, found such a person - we found a man of faith and we there is conversation between them. Their match is also open: "I will
found Gavriel Hirschberg in the courtyards of Yerushalayim doing work for you for seven years for Rahel, your youngest daughter". In
justice and searching for faith. We know that the Holy One, Blessed be contrast, Leah is hidden. Only her eyes are described: "and Leah's eyes
He will forgive her on his behalf. May his memory be blessed. were soft". She is all eyes. One can close one's eyes and then nothing
Ilan Tzipori can be seen. Nothing is told about her. Her wedding is also hidden, she
Yeshivat Ateret Kohanim arrives suddenly in Ya'akov's life, "and it was morning and behold it
A Letter Which Gavriel Hirschberg, Hy"d, Sent to His Rav at was Leah", with no open agreement, with no suitable organization.
Machon Meir, Rav Yehuda Ben Yishai Shlit"a Even then Ya'akov does not speak to her, does not even critic ize her for
Shalom to my dear Teacher and Rav! her deed. Silence. Nothing is said. Later, when they are married, one
I am writing my letter from the exile of Budapest in Hungary. I was does not find mention of any words passing between them. Leah is
sent here with my brother by "Machon Beit Peretz", which is the only wholly internal, hidden. The Zohar's compact expression for this is,
organization that has achieved some success amongst the assimi lated "Rahel is the revealed world, Leah is the hidden world." Rahel is the
Hungarian Jewry in the form of seminars which are usually held over root of the revealed national entity, the body of the nation, "Of
the festival period. beautiful countenance and well favored". This is the elevated material
We are the first permanent shlichim who are trying to get reality. She is not only of beautiful countenance but she is also
together a study group amongst students and young families in 12 well favored - this is the inner self which illuminates her
physicality. However, Rahel is the smallest and Leah is the biggest - (Shiur date: 11/18/75)
not only in age but in the size of their neshama. It is her eyes which are The Haftorah for Parshas Vayetzei (Hosea 12:13) ranges over several
soft, and the eyes are the mirror of the neshama, through which man's different topics. It begins with Jacob fleeing and working as payment
inner self can be seen. Leah is the root of the national Israeli neshama. for his wife and continues with the prophet (Moshe) who led the Jewish
Leah wept because she was intended for one who was the firstborn, Nation out of Egypt and then the prophet who led them into exile. The
meaning Eisav. She belongs to matters of the first -born. Rahel, prophet rebukes them for their idol worship and its leadi ng ultimately to
therefore, represents the talent of building and perfecting the physical the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. The prophet concludes with the
reality whilst Leah represents the talent of building and perfecting the topic of Teshuva - Shuva Yisrael. The Rav asked what is the message of
spiritual reality. the prophet, where is the continuity of the prophet especially through
AS OF NOW... …THE TIME HAS COME the various transitions among topics and what is its connection to
The aim of the rabbanim and leaders who established the Religious Vayetzei?
Zionist movement was to pour Jewish and religious content into the The secret of the Haftorah is in the way the prophet changes
National revival. Through complete faith that the process of the between the use of the name Jacob and Israel. Why didn't the prophet
ingathering of the exiles is irreversible and it will g radually gain use one of the names consistently throughout? The Rav explained: at
momentum until a State is established and until Mashiach comes, birth, Esau was given his name because it connotes that he came out
speedily and in our days. complete, the Hebrew word Assuy. This advanced state of development
As of now we are indeed in the middle of the process of the is symbolized by Esau's pushing to leave the womb first, showing
ingathering of the exiles and the revival of the Israeli nation - which is Gevurah or strength, similar to the birth of Peretz who push ed ahead of
the most wonderful story of history. It is only natural that the period of his twin brother Zerach. The kings that descended from Judah came
passage between exile and redemption in which we are at the moment, from Peretz as he showed inner strength that a king must have. On the
be accompanied by spiritual, religious and social crises. Just as any other hand, Jacob was born holding on to the heel of Esau, which
period of passage in the life of the individual is a ccompanied by symbolized military and political dependen ce on Esau. The Jew, from
complications and difficulties, so too the period of passage in the life the perspective of Yaakov, is dependent on the non -Jewish world. This
of the nation as Chazal stated, "In the 'footsteps of Mashiach' chutzpah can be seen today in the relationship between Israel and the USA. Esau
will abide… and the face of the generation will be like the face of a spent his time in the field hunting and engaged in the constant battle of
dog…". The historical task of the religious community in all its various life which made him tough, strong and secure. Yaakov, on the other
streams and with all its various leaders, is to guard the Jewish spark, to hand was a Yoshev Ohalim, he was not schooled in the lessons of life's
be devoted and faithful to guarding the divine Torah for our generation battles, as he had a radically different external personae and mission
and the generations to come. from his brother.
The goal of guarding is not only so that the religious community Isaac wanted to give Esau the blessing of Hevey Gvir Lachecha
enjoy the light and warmth of the spark, but the goal is to transmit the because he had the best chance of physically carrying out. Yaakov
light of Torah and emunah to the whole nation. agreed, saying that Esau is a hairy individual while he is smooth
The natural and essential way to strengthen and reinforce Judaism skinned. Yaakov was saying that he is not the kind to derive benefit
in Israel is by the government itself, through the state educational, from the physical blessings of Vyiten Lecha and Hevay Gvir Lachecha,
cultural and media systems. This is what the nation needs and this is which should go to someone who displays the attribute of Gevurah,
what it hopes will strengthen its Jewish identity, their connection with strength. After he takes the blessings, Rivka discovers that Esau wants
Judaism be'ahava uv'emunah, in love and faith, with an attitude of to kill Yaakov and wants Yaakov to run away to the house of Lavan.
respect with no coercion and this is immediately possible. "For it is Rivka realizes that Yaakov is no match for the physical strength of
time to favor her, the time has arrived". In anticipation of redemption, Esau. Even though Isaac himself was never ordered to go to Aram
Dov Bigon Naharyim on his own to seek a wife, Yaakov has no choice in the
BINYAMIN WAS BORN IN A FREE LAND matter; as the weaker of the brothers he is forced to flee.
Ya'akov Avinu has a special place amongst the three forefathers o f The Ramban comments that the name Yaakov implies weakness
the Hebrew nation. The Torah deals with only the final one hundred while the name Yisrael implies strength. The Jew has tremendous inner
years of Avraham's life story. The first seventy-five years of his life are strength with which he can stand up to an entire world. The prophet
like a blank page in our Torah. It is only the Agadah which fills in this says "Yaakov ran away to Sdeh Aram And Yisrael worked on behalf of
blank space with its stories of Avraham's deeds in the home of his a wife": he is pointing out this contradiction, that on the one hand
father Terach, being thrown into the furnace at Ur Kasdim and the Yaakov ran away out of weakness while on the other hand the same
people he converted in Haran. person, as Yisrael, portrays great inner strength. Even though he was
The Torah deals with only the first one hundred and twenty three working as a slave for his uncle Lavan, he was still Yisrael who was
years of Yitzchak Avinu's life, from the day he was born until Ya'akov ever vigilant and ready to fight to protect the tradition of Avraham and
left Be'er Sheva. His final fifty seven years remain without mention and the Jewish Nation that would perpetuate that legacy. When he faces
even the Agadah does not fill the space. Lavan after the latter caught up with him on his flight to return to
The Torah, however, deals with the whole of Ya'akov's life from the Canaan, he stands up to him and protects his wives and children from
day he is born until his burial in the Cave of Machpel a. And the Torah Lavan's clutches and to preserve their identity as the children of
dedicated one whole parsha to his dream and his dwelling in Lavan's Avraham and Yitzchak. The same weak Yaakov who was easy prey for
home. The events which take place in that house are mentioned in great Lavan to fool when it came to material and monetary considerations,
detail - and not in vain. Ya'akov is the symbol of the entire Hebrew was also the Yisrael who stood up to protect Bnay Yisrael with a
nation, which is named after him - Am Yisrael. He was the only father resolute and strong spirit and defeated Lavan.
from the three forefathers who for twenty years was not his own master In Egypt, Bnay Yisrael were physically and economically weak, yet
in his own land, but was in exile, a simple worker in another person's spiritually strong: they did not assimilate. As the Midrash says: Reuven
house, until he returned to his fathers' home. This has become a sym bol and Shimon entered Egypt and the same Reuven and Shimon left Egypt,
of the exile, its troubles and hopes and also a symbol of the they did not assimilate. (The Rav noted that they did not assimilate in
redemption and its courses. During that period he raised his young Egypt yet American Jews assimilate because they enjoy favorable
children and prepared them to inherit his spiritual inheritance, the economic conditions. They did not change their names, yet today
tradition of his fathers, and his material inherit ance, the land of the American Rabbis use their secular names instead of their Jewish
forefathers. Even the way in which he raised his children and prepared names.) As the prophet says: "And via a prophet, He raised the people
them must serve as a sign for his sons, for the children of the Hebrew out of Egypt". Even though we were physically weak and oppressed in
nation. Egypt, we still had the spiritual strength to produce prophets and
When he learns of Rahel's second pregnancy, that the last of his leaders. We showed the same spiritual fortitude in Egypt that Yaakov
sons is to be born in a few months time, a shiver runs through his whole showed years before when he stood up to Lavan.
body: will this child too be born in a foreign land? Will he not have Seventy two nations said that Israel should not exist; yet through
even one son who will not feel the taste of exile and will not bow down the will of Hashem and our great spiritual strength, we have persevered
to every tyrant an d despot? This will not happen! Ya'ak ov decided and and overcome great obstacles. The prophet also tells us U'bnavi
he escaped. Once Binyamin was born, the Shechina was connected to all Nishmar, that in the future Bnay Yisrael will continue to produce great
of the tribes. In truth, the Shechina fixed its place in Eretz Yisrael, in leaders who will exhibit the great inner strength of Yisrael.
Binyamin's portion. He is called "Hashem's friend" and it is in his [Note: this shiur was given during the period when the UN
portion that the Beit Mikdash is built. Amongst the various reasons resolution equating Zionism and racism. It is most interesting to read
Chazal give for this are, "Be cause Binyamin was born in Eretz Yisrael" the following in light of the recent controversy that has erupted between
and "Because he did not bow to Eisav" and these two reasons are Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Jews regarding the religious future
actually the same. If Binyamin had not been born in Eretz Yisrael , he of Eretz Yisrael.] The non-Jewish world might look at Zionism as
too would have bowed to Eisav, and then there would have been no racism if they look at laws like the Chok Hashevus, Law of Return.
place in Eretz Yisrael for the Shechina to rest. The She china only rests However if we show that Eretz Yisrael is a land of Kedusha, people can
upon a free nation in a free land, that is how it has been and that is how readily see that this is not the case. Eretz Yisrael is a viable concept and
it will be in the future. The Shechina rested and will rest only in entity only if it is imbued with sanctity, Kedusha. Secular Zionism
Binyamin's portion. The wonderful man who will descend "before the poses a great danger to Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael [because it seeks
day of the Great and Awesome Hashem, and he will return the hearts of to deny this Kedusha]. The prophet says that we will maintain the inner
f athers upon sons and the hearts of sons upon their fathers", he too, strength of Yisrael and realize that idol worship is folly, hence the
Eliyahu Ha'Navi, is descended from the great-grandchildren of continuation of the prophecy is Shuva Yisrael, the return of the people
Binyamin, son of Rahel. to Hashem which is the ultimate exhibition of our inner strength. We
Ya'akov's success in raising his children comes as a result of his can see the aspect of Yisrael among the non-religious Jews in America
own good education. He is always with them, relating to them as an who risk their own security to protect Israel. The "Yisrael" potential
elderly brother relates to his younger brothers and speaks to them in the dwells in each and every Jew. The Jew may be weak politically,
language of his fathers, in the Holy Tongue, and they participate with economically or militarily. Yet, the prophet has promised us that
him in his work. eventually this strength of Yisrael will burst forth, as the Jewish nation
By raising his children in this way, Ya'akov Avinu must be an is destined to return to Hashem, Shuva Yisrael.
example to us too. We must raise our children so that they weave their
historical lives according to the ancient tradition of our forefathers'
inheritance in the past and their hopes for the future.
12- HALACHA (Gross)
Deliver my wife... So Lavan gathered all the people of the place and
made a feast (29:21-22)
11 - HARAV SOLOVEITCHIK 13 MARRIAGE IN HALACHAH
This week we present some of the lesser-known halachos and customs 19 Chochmas Adam 115:2; Pischei Teshuvah E.H. 61:21; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 146:1; Sdei Chemed
(Choson v'kalah 4); Harav Y. Y. Kanievsky (Orchos Rabeinu 2:164). See Aruch ha -Shulchan E.H. 61:21
of marriage that do not fall strictly within the domain of an officiating who maintain s that when possible, the fast should continue until after the chupah, even if it is after
22 Beiur Halachah 136:1. It 21 Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 573:4. 20 Aruch ha-Shulchan E.H. 61:21. nightfall.
rav, but are vital for a couple, their parents and their wedding guests to 23 Rama O.C. 562:2. remains unclear, however, if this is so if the chupah will take place after nightfall.
know: 24 Pischei Teshuvah E.H. 61:9; Mishnah Berurah 573:8. These customs, too, were not accepted by the
26 Harav S. Wosner 25 See Sha'arei Teshuvah O.C. 562:2. majority of Sefaradim - Yabia Omer 3:9.
DURING THE ENGAGEMENT: 27 Pri Megadim (Psicha, Berachos (Apiryon l'Sh lomo, pg. 40). See also ha -Nisuin K'hilchasam 8:24.
All of the restrictions of yichud and physical contact between men 14) - since some Rishonim maintain that the blessing over the kiddushin is a birkas hamitzvos. It is
28 See Pischei Teshuvah E.H. 34:5 prohibited to speak between a blessing and the mitzvah which follows .
and women are in full effect for an engaged couple until after the 31 Aruch ha-Shulchan E.H. 28:84. 30 E.H. 28:1. 29 Avnei Miluim 28:33. and Afikei Yam 2:2.
33 See E.H. 65:1 and Eizer 32 Rambam Hilchos Avel 14:1. See Otzar ha-Poskim 28:1-9,1-19.
chupah(1). Mekudash for the many ways in which this mitzvah can be fulfilled.
An engaged couple may not live together in the same house even
when there is no question of yichud(2).
It is an ancient and widely accepted custom for the groom to
13- OHR SOMAACH QUESTIONS
send(3) gifts to the bride during their engagement. To avoid the danger Parsha Questions
of the gifts being mistaken for a form of kiddushin(4) - a legitimate 1. When Yaakov traveled to Charan, the Torah stresses that he departed
concern especially when a ring is given as a sign of commitment -(5) from Be'er Sheva. Why?
the following precautions are recommended: No witnesses should be 2. On the night of his dream, Yaakov did something he hadn' t done in
present at the time the gifts are given to the bride or when the groom 14 years. What?
gives the gifts to the messenger to give to the bride. The groom should 3. In his dream, Yaakov saw angels going up and down. What were the
not say that the gift is being given as a token of commitment or as an missions of these angels?
engagement present; rather it should be given simply as a gift. 4. Hashem compressed the entire land of Israel underneath the sleeping
THE PROPER TIME AND PLACE OF THE WEDDING: Yaakov. What did this symbolize?
If two brothers or two sisters [or a younger sister and an older 5. Why did Yaakov rebuke the shepherds?
brother(6)] are engaged to be married at the same time, the older one 6. Why was Rachel tending her father's sheep; that is, why didn't her
must get married first. It is permitted, however, for a younger brother or brothers tend the sheep as was customary in those days?
sister to become engaged and married before their older sibling becomes 7. Why did Yaakov cry when he met Rachel?
engaged(7). 8. Who was Elifaz, and why didn't he kill Yaakov when he had the
There is a custom followed by some people not to get married in the chance?
second half of the Hebrew month(8). If, however, this constraint will 9. Why did Lavan run to greet Yaakov?
delay the wedding unnecessarily, almost all of the authorities agree that 10. Why were Leah's eyes tender?
the custom should be sidestepped in this case(9). 11. How old was Yaakov when he married Leah and Rachel?
It is improper to write a pasuk, or part of a pasuk, on a wedding 12. Why did Rachel envy Leah?
invitation, since invitations are generally discarded(10). 13. Who was Yaakov's fifth son?
When scheduling a wedding, it is important to allow enough time to 14. How do you say "dudaim" in Arabic?
finish all the pre-chupah arrangements in time for the chupah to take 15. "Hashem remembered Rachel" (30:22). What did He remember?
place on the date which is written in the kesubah. Some poskim 16. What does "Yosef" mean? Why was he named that?
maintain that if the kesubah has a different date from when the 17. How many times did Lavan change Yaakov's wages?
kiddushin actually took place, the kiddushin is invalid(11). At the very 18. Where are there two Aramaic words in this week's Parsha?
least, it is important to make sure that the legal transaction of the 19. Who was Bilhah's father? Who was Zilpah's father?
kesubah (kinyan) takes place before nightfall(12). 20. Who escorted Yaakov into Eretz Yisrael?
It is an ancient custom(13) to perform the chupah ceremony under Bonus QUESTION:
an open sky(14). Several poskim mention however, that if the groom "And he removed the stone from the mouth of the well..." (29:10)
and bride insist on the chupah taking place inside, there is no reason to Yaakov single-handedly plucked a giant boulder from the mouth of the
object and argue about it since it is not forbidden to do so(15). well, a stone which normally took many men just to roll. Why was it
THE DAY OF THE WEDDING: necessary for Yaakov to display his superhuman strength at this
It is customary for the groom and bride to fast(16) on the day of particular stage in his career?
their wedding until after the chupah(17). They are allowed to rinse their I Did Not Know That!
mouth or brush their teeth, even with toothpaste(18). "It was the next morning and -- Behold! -- she was Leah!" (29:25).
If the chupah is delayed well past nightfall and the groom and bride Yaakov said to Leah, "You swindler, daughter of a swindler! Last night
are hungry, they may break their fast before the chupah, provided that I called `Rachel' and you responded!"
no alcoholic beverages are consumed(19). "I learned that from you," said Leah. "Your father (Yitzchak) called
A groom and bride who find it very difficult to fast do not have to `Esav' and you responded (in order to steal Esav's blessing)!"
fast at all(20), but they should eat only a limited amount of food(21). Daas Zekenim Mibaalei Tosafos
If the day of the wedding falls on a day when the Torah is read, the Answers to this Week's Questions
All references are to the verses and Rashi's commentary, unless otherwise stated
groom must be called up to the Torah. This "obligation" supersedes any 1. 28:10 - The departure of a righteous person leaves a noticeable void in that place.
2. 28:11 - Sleep at night lying down.
other, such as a bar mitzvah or a yahrtzeit(22). 3. 28:12 - The ascending angels accompanied Yaakov in Eretz Canaan. The descending angels
Traditionally, the groom and bride recite aneinu (23) and add the accompanied Yaakov outside of the Land.
4. 28:13 - That the Land would be easy for his descendants to conquer.
viduy supplication at the conclusion of their Minchah service(24). The 5. 29:7 - He thought they were loafing, stopping work early in the day.
6. 30:27 - Her brothers weren't born yet.
groom, however, should not forgo davening with a tzibbur for this or 7. 29:11 - He saw prophetically that they would not be buried together; or because he was penniless.
any other reason(25). 8. 29:11 - Elifaz was Esav's son who chased Yaakov in order to kill him. But because Elif az had grown up
under the tutelage of Yitzchak, he relented.
UNDER THE CHUPAH: 9. 29:13 - He thought Yaakov was carrying money.
Relatives of the groom, bride or each other, either by bl ood or 10. 29:17 - She cried continually because she thought she was destined to marry Esav.
11. 29:21 - Eighty-four.
marriage, are not valid witnesses for the kiddushin. Although certain 12. 30:1 - She envied her mitzvos, thinking they were the reason Leah merited having children.
13. 30:5 - Dan.
distant relatives (e.g., a cousin's cousin, a brother-in-law's brother-in- 14. 30:14 - Jasmine (Yasmin).
law, a brother's father-in-law) may be allowed halachically, several 15. 30:22 - That Rachel gave Leah the "signs of recognition" that Yaakov had taught her, so that Leah
wouldn't be embarrassed.
poskim advise that no relative act as a witness for the kiddushin(26). 16. 30:24 - "Yosef" means "He will add." Rachel prayed to Hashem for another son, in addition to Yosef.
The groom should not speak between the blessing over the 17. 31:7 - One hundred times.
18. 31:41 - Yagar Sahadusa, meaning `wall of testimony.'
kiddushin and the placement of the ring on the bride's finger(27). 19. 31:50 - Lavan.
20. 32:1 - The angels of Eretz Yisrael.
The bride and groom must have specific intent to be yotzei with the
blessing over the kiddushin and the blessing of Borei pri hagafen(28). Bonus ANSWER:
The ring must be paid for entirely(29) and belong to the groom Yaakov wanted to marry Rachel, but her father, the money-hungry
exclusively(30). If the groom's parents or anybody else bought the ring, Lavan, would never agree unless it somehow served his own selfish
the groom must "buy" the ring from them in a halachically binding interests. Since Yaakov was empty-handed, the only thing he could
purchase (kinyan)(31). offer Lavan was his services. He therefore displayed his exceptional
DURING THE MEAL: strength and prowess so Lavan would desire him as a servant. Heard
It is a rabbinical(32) mitzvah to rejoice with the groom and bride at from Rabbi Avigdor Miller
their wedding. Everybody in attendance is obligated to do so and may
discharge their obligation in a number of ways(33):
Dance and sing along; Recite one of the seven blessings under the
chupah or in birkas ha-Mazon; Praise the groom to the bride or vice-
versa; Engage the groom or bride in small talk about the happiness of
the occasion; Give a gift.
A dignitary discharges his obligation by merely being p resent.
It is questionable if it is permitted to leave a wedding before sheva
berachos is recited. For a full discussion of this issue, see The Weekly
Halachah Discussion, vol. 1, pg. 112.
2 Rama E.H. 55:1 and Kn esses ha-Gedolah, ibid. See also Sdei Chemed 1 Chelkas Mechokek E.H. 55:1.
4 See E.H. 45 for the 3 Through a messenger - see Ta'amei ha -Minhagim 938. (Choson v'Kalah 12).
6 5 Kisvei Harav Henkin (Pirushei Ivra 5:13). many views and possible problems which may result.
There are conflicting opinion, however, if a brother must allow his older sister to get married before him,
since the brother is commanded to get married while the sister is not - see Mahrsham 3:136, Avnei Chefetz
7 Shach Y.D. 244:13 as exp lained by M'harash Engle 6:102 and Igros 25 and Chelkas Yaakov 1:125.
8 Rama E.H. 64:3. Others have a custom that a Moshe E.H. 2:1. See also Igros Chazon Ish 1:166.
wedding may take place until the 18th day of the month while others allow it until the 22nd day. In
addition, some do n ot follow this restriction in the months of Tishrei, Kislev, Adar, Iyar, Av and Elul.
9 Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 166:3. See also Aruch ha -Shulchan E.H. 64:13 and Igros Moshe E.H. 1:93
10 Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:135; Harav S.Y. who maintain that most people do not follow this custom.
Elyashiv (Apiryon l'Shlomo, pg. 25). See also Mishnah Berurah 638:24 who prohibits writing a pasuk on
11 Igros Moshe E.H. 4:105 -3; O.C. 5:9-2. See also written fruit which will be used as a succah decoration.
responsum from Harav S.Z. Auerbach (published in Kovetz Aharon v'Yisrael, Cheshvan 5755) that such a
12 Beis Shmuel E.H. 66:7. According to Igros Moshe (ibid.) this is not document is completely "false".
14 13 Sefaradim, however, did not accept this custom - Sdei Chemed (Ch asan v'Kalah 1). valid.
Rama E.H. 61:1. Some insist that the chupah take place outdoors [not in a enclosed room with an opening in
15 Imrei the ceiling like a skylight], and there is a valid source for their custom - Eizer Mekudash 55:1.
Eish O.C. 9; Igros Moshe E.H. 1:93; Yabia Omer 3:10. See above sources for a similar discussion regarding
a chupah in a shul. Many poksim in Europe prohibited it for various reasons but others ruled more
16 No pre-acceptance of the fast is required - Mishnah Berurah 562:11; Be'er Moshe 3:75. leniently.
17 Rama O.C. 562:2 and 573:1. This custom, too, was not accepted in most Sefaradic communities
since they considered the day of their wedding as a Yom Tov. Even today, Sefaradim should
18 O.C. 567:3 and Mishnah Berurah 12. uphold their custom and not fast - Yabia Omer 3:9. 14