Parshat Vayetzei Vol.10 No.12
Date of issue: 12 Kislev 5761 -- December 9, 2000
issue of Kol Torah
has been sponsored by
Rabbi Barry and Sandy Nussbaum
and family in honor of the engagement of
Shoshana to Moshe Plotkin.
by Dr. Joel Berman
...Haser Misham Col Seh Nakod..., "...remove every speckled lamb..." (30:32)
Why does the Torah, usually terse in Describing events, devote ten Pesukim following this one to explaining in great detail Yaakov's remarkable ability as a shepherd? It is interesting to note that Yaakov is not the only shepherd who became a great Jewish leader. Avraham, Moshe, and David were also shepherds. David was in tune with the needs of the flocks entrusted to him, and he was therefore careful to let the weaker, younger animals graze first so that they could benefit from the more easily available grass and shoots. Only afterwards would he allow the older, stronger animals to graze, since only they had the strength to dig up the roots.
What is the connection between shepherding and Klal Yisrael? We can look at Parshat Ki Tisa for an explanation. Bnai Yisrael are reveling around the golden calf. Moshe Rabbeinu descends from the mountain carrying the Luchot (32:15). Towards the bottom of the mountain he meets Yehoshua, and the two have a most interesting exchange. Yehoshua reports to Moshe, Kol Milchama Bimachaneh, "[I hear] the sound of battle coming from the camp." Moshe corrects Yehoshua, Kol Anot Anochi Shomaiah, "[No,] it is the sound of distress I hear."
Rav Shimon Schwab, zt"l, in his Sefer Me'ein Bait Hashoeva, explains that the Torah records lessons in both leadership and psychology. He brings a Gemara Yerushalmi from the fourth Perek of Taanit where Moshe asks Yehoshua how Yehoshua, the future leader of Klal Yisrael, could fail to distinguish between one sound and another. Of course Yehoshua recognized the sounds of revelry and drunkenness. He thought, however, that these were the results of a battle of rebellion against Hashem. Moshe Rabbeinu knew better. He explained to Yehoshua that these were not the sounds of Simcha and joy but the sounds of depression, despair, and bitterness, the results of Bnai Yisrael's mistaken belief that they were abandoned and leaderless in the desert. Moshe was explaining to Yehoshua that it was incumbent upon him, as a future leader of Klal Yisrael, to understand the needs of his people no less than the master shepherds Avraham, Moshe, and David understood the needs of their animals. Just like a shepherd guides his flock, so too a leader of Klal Yisrael must lead and tend to the needs of his people.
Yaakov the Tzaddik
by Jonathan Frank
Throughout Parshat Toldot, we are informed of Yaakov Avinu's greatness. Even before Yaakov was born, when Rivka would pass Torah establishments Yaakov would try to get out of Rivka (Rashi). This is symbolic of the greatness he would achieve in life. Furthermore, we see that when Yaakov had to lie to his father, he could not bring himself to lie completely, and therefore he only misled Yitzchak.
At the beginning of Parshat Vayetzei we see the story of Yaakov resting on Har Hamoriah, where he had a Nevuah. The mere fact that he had a Nevuah further establishes Yaakov's credibility as a Tzaddik.
There are two Pesukim within this story that seem to contradict this assertion that Yaakov was a Tzaddik: "Yaakov made an oath saying, 'If Hashem will be with me and will protect me on this path that I am traveling and will give me food and clothing. And I return in peace to my father's house, then I will accept Hashem as my God'" (28:20-21). The problem with these Pesukim is two-fold. First, how can Yaakov make such a stipulation with Hashem? Second, Hashem had already told Yaakov in Pasuk 15 that He is with Yaakov and He will protect him and return him to Eretz Yisrael. Why does Yaakov repeat that which Hashem had already told him? What is Yaakov really saying in this Pasuk?
The Kli Yakar brings a fascinating insight to
this Pasuk. He explains that it cannot be that Yaakov is asking
for Shmirat Haguf (physical protection) because Hashem already
promised this to Yaakov. Rather, Yaakov is asking for Shmirat
Hanefesh Min Hachet (spiritual protection from sin). The Kli
Yakar proves this through some brilliant insights into the
language of the Torah:
Hashem said to Yaakov, Ushmarticha Bechol Asher Telech, "I will protect you wherever you go." If Yaakov were referring to the same thing when he asked for protection, he would have said, Ushmarani Bechol Asher Elech, using the same words as Hashem. Instead, Yaakov says, Ushmarani Baderech Haze Asher Anochi Holech, "If you protect me on this path that I am traveling." The path that Yaakov refers to is not a physical one, but the spiritual path of Hashem: Yaakov asks Hashem to protect him from sin.
This raises another question: If Yaakov is really asking Hashem to keep him from sinning, then why does the Pasuk mention material needs, such as food and clothing? The Kli Yakar explains that the Pasuk is to be understood as, Lechem Cidei Le'echol Ubeged Cidei Lilbosh. Yaakov wishes for enough food to eat and enough clothing to wear, but nothing more. Too much food and money, Yaakov knows, can lead to sin.
We see that this Pasuk is actually a Tefillah from Yaakov to Hashem about Shmirat Hanefesh Min Hachet. This explains why the Pasuk is not repetitious: it is saying something completely different than what Hashem said. Likewise, it explains that Yaakov's alleged stipulation was not a stipulation at all, but rather a Tefillah.
We can learn a very important lesson from this episode. When Yaakov found out that he was in a place of Kedusha (holiness), the Pasuk states, Vayikatz Yaakov Mishnaso Vayomer Ochen Yaish Hashem Bamakom Haze Ve'anochi Lo Yadati, "Yaakov awoke from his sleep, and he said 'Surely Hashem is in this place, and I did not know!'" (28:16). Yaakov did not know that Hashem's Presence was there. If he did, he would not have chosen that place to sleep.
This teaches us about Kedusha. How many times do we walk into a Shul or Bait Midrash and not think about its Kedusha? How many times do we put on Tefillin or Daven and not think about the Kedusha there? The Mishna Berura records many Halachot regarding the Kedusha of a Shul and how it should be treated. Im Yeratze Hashem, we will take this lesson to heart and think about the Mitzvot we do and their Kedusha.
(I would like to thank Rabbi Blackstein for assisting me in putting together this article.)
Opening Our Eyes
by Zevi Goldberg
After Yaakov wakes up from his dream, he says, Ochen Yaish Hashem Bamakom Haze, "Surely, Hashem is in this place" (Bereishit 28:16). The word Ochen implies that something was exposed to Yaakov that he had not known before: Hashem's presence. Then Yaakov says,Ve'anochi Lo Yadati , "And I did not know." How could Yaakov have been expected to see Hashem's Presence if it was not told to him before his Nevuah? Can we blame Yaakov for something he had no knowledge of?
Based on the Gemara in Chullin, the Ohr Hachaim offers an answer. The Gemara says that when Yaakov was passing the site of his dream, Hashem purposely made the sun set early to ensure that Yaakov would sleep at the holy site. The Ohr Hachaim says that we can use this to better understand the chronology of events with Yaakov at the mountain. First, Yaakov was traveling, and without paying attention to the hand of Hashem in the miraculous sunset, he set up his tent for the night. He received the Nevuah in a dream and then woke up feeling guilty. Yaakov's first introduction to the Shechina should not have been in a dream. The word Ochen refers to revelation that Hashem did a miracle for Yaakov, one that Yaakov only appreciated once his awareness was enhanced by his Nevuah. Then Yaakov feels remorse and says Ve'anochi Lo Yadati because he realizes that he did not fully grasp the situation the first time. Yaakov should have been more conscious of his surroundings. He should have constantly been looking for Hashem's hand in everyday life. The sunset was just one of the many miracles Hashem performed for Yaakov and performs for all of Bnai Yisrael everyday, yet Yaakov failed to realize this.
Many times peoples walk through life with their eyes closed. Every day, Hashem performs millions of miracles that we fail to recognize. This was the mistake of Yaakov: not realizing Hashem's brilliance and walking through his life with his eyes closed. However, Yaakov was able to realize his mistake and become me aware. Unfortunately many people do no improve till it is to late.
It's Never Enough
by Craig Yagoda
From the beginning of Parshat Toldot, the Torah presents Yaakov as a person immersed in Torah learning, as the Pasuk says, Viyaakov Ish Tam Yoshev Ohalim. Unlike Esav, who was out in the fields hunting, Yaakov would remain in his tent studying Torah. However, as Yaakov got older, he was presented with challenges that force him to leave his tent of Torah and Kedusha and involve himself with people who had not reached his same level of spirituality . In fact, as Parshat Vayetzei begins, Yaakov embarks on a journey to Charan, which ultimately turns into a twenty-year exile in the house of Lavan.
At the end of Parshat Toldot, Rashi quotes the Midrash that says that Yaakov spent fourteen years learning in the house of Ever before going on this journey. Because Yaakov had been learning since he was young, it was clear that he had already amassed a significant amount of Torah knowledge. Why, then, did he spend these fourteen years learning before his journey?
One can suggest that Yaakov knew he was entering a new stage of his life. Yaakov understood that he would not be able to remain secluded in his tent constantly involved with Torah throughout his life. Realizing that this may be his last opportunity to engage in serious Torah learning as he had been doing his entire life, Yaakov took some time to learn in the house of Shem. Although he had already accrued a tremendous amount of Torah knowledge, Yaakov was striving to continue to grow, and therefore he seized every opportunity he had to learn Torah.
We can learn an important lesson from Yaakov. If Yaakov Avinu, after learning for 63 years of his life, was unsatisfied with the amount of Torah that he had acquired, we should never feel content with the little Torah that we have learned.
Halacha of the Week
This week those who reside in Chutz La'aretz began to say Vitain Tal Umatar Livracha in the Beracha of Barech Aleinu. If one forgets to say Vitain Tal Umatar (or, in the first thirty days, if one is unsure if he remembered or not), he should follow the following guidelines:
If he did not yet reach the Beracha of Shema Koleinu, he should insert the words Vitain Tal Umatar Livracha in that Beracha immediately before Ci Ata Shomeia (before Aneinu if he is fasting).
If he has passed Shema Koleinu but not yet reached the end of Shemoneh Esrei (defined as the Pasuk Yihyu Leratzon right before taking three steps back), he should return to the Beracha of Bareich Aleinu and continue from that point (repeating all the Berachot that follow).
If he has already finished Shemoneh Esrei, he must start again from the beginning. These Halachot can be found in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 117:5.
Food for Thought
by Dani Gross
1) Rashi and the Torah Temima quote the Gemara (Sanhedrin 95b) that says that Yaakov arrived at Charan, realized that he passed Har Hamoriah, felt bad that he had not Davened at the holy place where Avraham and Yitzchak had Davened, and went back. However, Rashi says in 28:16 that if Yaakov knew the Kedusha of the place he would not have slept there. How can Rashi quote the idea that Yaakov went back because he missed the holy site on his first trip and also quote the idea that had Yaakov known of the site's holiness he would have acted differently?
2) In 30:43, Yaakov is referred to as Haish, "the man." Why is he not referred to by name here?
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