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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Vayeitzei (73)

This week's sedra continues the events of Jacob's life. His fleeing from his brother Esau and his living with his uncle Lavan.. Here he brings up his family, the foundation of the future tribes of Israel. Jacob has his "ladder dream" in which G-d promises to give him the blessing of the Land.

After his dream and his vow we find the following verse.

Genesis 29:1

And Jacob raised up his feet and went toward to the land of the people of the East.


And Jacob raised up his feet: Rashi: Once he was given the good tidings that he would be protected [ by G-d] his heart lifted his feet and it became easy for him to walk. So it is explained in Bereishis Rabbah.

What would you ask on this comment?

Your Question:


A Question: Why the need to comment here at all? The meaning of the verse is simple enough - it means: Jacob started walking. Why does Rashi add his words?

What's bothering him ?

Your Answer:


An Answer: Precisely because the meaning is simple, the words "Jacob raised up his feet" are totally redundant. If it says "he went", it clearly means he had to raise his legs. How else could he go but by raising his feet? By bus? By train? By car? By donkey? (maybe, but apparently he didn't own one.) Going means raising one's feet. It is so obvious it is unnecessary to write it.

Or as the midrash asks: Ordinarily one's legs raise one's body. Here Jacob was raising his legs instead of his legs raising him.

That is what Rashi is relating to.

How does his comment deal with this?

Your Answer:


An Answer: Rashi tells us the deeper meaning of these words. Granted in a physical sense one's legs raise one's body, but mentally it is one's mind - heart - that decides to raise one's legs. Jacob was so buoyed by G-d's promise to protect him that he just "floated" on air, so to speak.


There are two different midrashim that deal with the words "And Jacob raised his legs." One midrash says that after Jacob's significant divine dream and vision of G-d standing above him and speaking with him, he was reluctant to leave the holy spot where he experienced the vision.

While another midrash says just the opposite. Jacob's inspiring vision so uplifted him that he went forward - raising his legs - with alacrity.

Rashi chose the second midrash. Can you see why?

Your Answer:


An Answer: Rashi chose the midrash that said that Jacob looked forward and left the place of the vision quickly, because when we look at Jacob's words that he uttered when he woke up from his vision, we see that all his thoughts were forward looking. He says that if G-d fulfills His promise and he "returns in peace to his father's house." So we see clearly from the context that Jacob left the Place with enthusiasm and forward looking optimism. This is most likely the reason Rashi chose the midrash that he did.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek "What's Bothering Rashi?" is a product of the Institute for the Study of Rashi and Early Commentaries. A Hebrew translation of the Bereishis "What's Bothering Rashi?" is published. It is greatly expanded and is call "L'omko shel Rashi" look for it in bookstores.

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