by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek
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In the beginning of this week's sedra we find Yaakov on his way to Haran. He rests at sunset and has a dream - a Divine vision. Rashi in his long comment to 28:17 tells us that Yaakov passed Jerusalem unknowingly and then realized that he had passed the place where his forefathers had prayed (Mt. Moriah) and he too wanted to pray there so headed back towards Jerusalem. Then he came upon this "place." Then in verse 28:16 he awoke and said "Hashem is in this place and I didn't know!"
My question is : Why didn't Yaakov know it was a Holy place? Had he not intentionally returned there because it was a Holy place, where his fathers had prayed, so why was he surprised?
Another Question on the words of Yaakov. See his vow in verses 28:20-22. "If G-d will be with me and He will guard me etc...Then Hashem will be to me for a G-d .... and all You give me I will surely give a tenth unto You."
My Question: Why does Yaakov suddenly switch from speaking of G-d in the third person ("He will guard me...") to these last words where he speaks to G-d in the second person "I will give You." ?
My Answer: Yaakov knew that Elokim was in that place. Elokim is G-d's name for the less personal, more natural G-d. His parents prayed there so he too will pray there. But he wasn't praying to a personal G-d. One Who had personally communicated with him. It was like a shule, a place where people pray, but however intense that prayer is, it is still a prayer to a G-d one hasn't known personally. But after Yaakov had his dream-vision he realized that he had met Hashem, the personal G-d. So he says "If all these promises are fulfilled it will be a sign that my dream was no ordinary dream. It was a prophecy and I had met G-d myself. That G-d is called Hashem. So Yaakov pledged "Then Hashem will be to me (and not just to my fathers) as a G-d." Once that new personal relationship was established, Yaakov spoke to Hashem in the second person the more personal form "all You give me I will give a tenth to You."
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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