A Student Publication of Torah Academy of Bergen County
Parshat Vayetzei 11 Kislev 5763 November 16, 2002 Vol.12 No.6
In This Issue:
Angels on the Move
Halacha of the Week
Rabbi Howard Jachter
This week’s issue of Kol
Torah has been sponsored by
Angels on the Move
by Rabbi Craig Berkowitz
At the end of Parshat Vayetzei, Yaakov departs from Charan with his whole entourage, and in what seems like deja vu, encounters two camps of angels. Rashi explains (32:2-3) that Yaakov was abandoning the angels of the Diaspora, with the Eretz Yisrael replacements soon filling the gap. Here, Ramban takes issue with Rashi, since Yaakov had not yet crossed the Israeli borders. In fact, he was considerably distant from it – rendering the changing of the angelic guard geographically premature.
Ramban does indeed have a point, yet Rashi says the same thing at the beginning of the Parsha (28:12). During Yaakov’s celebrated dream, the angels of the Holy Land climbed up the ladder, while the protectors of Chutz Laaretz descended. Same switch, reverse order. But the exchange occurred on Eretz Yisrael soil (in Bait El), miles ahead of the Charan frontier. Once again, the angels of one location took center stage a bit early.
We learn from here that one is defined not necessarily by his present location, but by his intended destination. In his journeys away from home, Yaakov needed to protect himself and build a family, so his mentality focused upon Charan, soon to become his twenty-year, uncomfortable home away from home. But when he separated from Lavan, he was back on the Eretz Yisrael track, even before he actually arrived there.
In a similar vein, the Midrash tells us (Devarim Rabba 2:8) that Moshe Rabbeinu did not merit entry into the land of Israel because Yitro referred to him as an “Egyptian man” (Shemot 2:19) and he did not protest. Even though Moshe had never lived in Eretz Yisrael, it should have been his natural homeland; it should have been the way he defined himself. (See Rabbi Mirsky’s Higyonei Halacha, vol. 2, pp.228 for more examples of this idea.) Every Jew, whatever his present situation might be, wherever the fortunes of life place him, must identify himself as a Ben-Eretz Yisrael, rejoicing in its victories, mourning during times of distress, and always desiring to reside there, or at least tread upon its hallowed grounds. As we pray for an end to the horrific madness of the past two-plus years, Yaakov’s angels teach us to reinforce our bonds to the Jewish homeland. Let us support Acheinu Bnai Yisrael Beeretz Yisrael not only with our Tefilot, but also with our physical presence there, even if for a short visit. Let us declare to our brethren and to the world that our bodies may reside overseas, but our hearts long for that tiny country in the Middle East.
Mind Over Matter
by Moshe Rapps
“Vayelech Reuven Bimay Kitzir Chitim
Vayimtza Dudaim,” “And Reuven went out in the days of the wheat harvest and
he found wildflowers.”
Rashi quotes a Gemara in Sanhedrin 99b, which asks why Reuven did not take wheat if it was the wheat harvest? The Gemara answers that Reuven picked wildflowers and not wheat so that he would not run into any problem of theft. He picked something that was Hefker, ownerless, rather than wheat, which could have belonged to an owner. The Torah praises Reuven by telling us that even though it was the wheat-harvesting season, Reuven did not pick wheat out of fear that it was someone else’s. The Gemara deduces that Tzaddikim are people who do not steal. Why was this conclusion necessary? Obviously, if people steal they are not righteous!
Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l says that the Gemara is teaching us a very important lesson about how careful one should be in order to avoid stealing. One might think that a Tzaddik would never even have the slightest thought to steal, because he knows how wrong it is, however, in reality, if theft is never on his mind, he is more likely to steal something inadvertently. Therefore the Torah tells us that a righteous man never takes his mind off theft out of fear that he might commit this sin by accident. This is why the Torah praises Reuven for taking only wildflowers.
We see that the Torah is teaching a very important lesson, not only in regard to theft, but in regard to all sins: that we should aspire to reach such a high level of righteousness, that we are extremely careful with our actions. And if we should always be aware not to sin, how much more so we should be aware of Mitzvot and rush to do them.
Pillars of Stone
by Eitan Bluman
In Perek 28, Pasuk 11, the Torah says “Vayishkav Bamakom Hahu,” “And he laid down in that place.” Rashi says that this is an expression of restriction: in that place he laid down to sleep, but during the fourteen years when he attended the house of Ever he did not lie down to sleep at night. The Yad Yosef says that Yaakov could have found comfort and rested in the Bait Midrash of Shem and Ever but he decided to sleep on the twelve stones instead. Rav Nechemia says that the twelve stones symbolize twelve things: three stones refer to Avraham who had a close connection with Hashem, three stones refer Yitzchak and his connection with his Hashem, and Yaakov reasoned that he too had that same close connection with Hashem. Rav Nechemia explains that the three remaining stones refer to the three “stones,” or pillars, that the world stands on: Torah, Avoda, and Gemilat Chassadim. Rav Nechemia further explains that when Yaakov laid down on them, each stone began to fight over which one Yaakov would rest his head on. Hashem replied that they are each equally vital and must all be linked together in order to form the foundation of the Jewish People.
by Donny Manas
Parshat Vayetzei tells us about the dream that Yaakov has when he leaves Israel to go to the house of Lavan. The Torah says “Vayachalom Vihenay Sulam Matzav Artza Virosho Magiya Hashomaima,” “And he dreamt, and behold! A ladder was set earthward and its top reached heavenward” (28:12). The Baal Haturim points out that the Gematria (numerical value) of the word Sulam, ladder, is equal to one hundred thirty six, which is the same Gematria as the word Kol, voice. We can deduce from this symbolism that just as the ladder in Yaakov’s dream connected earth to heaven allowing the angels to go up and down, so to our voice is the mechanism that connects us to heaven.
The same deduction can be made in relation to the famous Tefilot of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. We say on the High Holidays, “Uteshuva, Utefila, Utzedaka, Maavirim Et Roa Hagizeira,” “Repentance, prayer, and charity mitigate the evil decree.” In most prayer books, the explanatory word Kol is on top of Tefillah, Tzom is on top of Teshuva, and Mamon is on top of Tzedaka. The Gematria of all three words is equal to one hundred thirty six. If we appreciate the power that these means of expression have to convey our needs directly to Hashem, and to arouse His compassion for us, we will certainly approach them far more seriously.
The word Sulam also has the Gematria of Sinai. This teaches us that just as the ladder of Yaakov connected him directly to Hashem, the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai connected Hashem and the Jewish people, and just as Yaakov lived his whole life with complete faith in Hashem, so should we.
Halacha of the Week:
If one is chosen to serve as a witness to a wedding, he should be exceedingly careful to watch the delivery of the ring (Rama, Even Haezer 42:4). If one is present at a non-Orthodox wedding, it might be wise for a valid witness to not watch the delivery of the ring. One should consult his Rav for guidance.
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