Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 10   No. 7

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Eliyahu Ze'ev ben Rebbi Reb Yerachmiel Moshe z.l.
by his son in honour of his 14th Yohrzeit on the 14th Kislev

Parshas Va'Yeitzei

The Place

Rashi comments that the Torah does not give us the name of the location that Ya'akov arrived at (or Davened at), referring to it simply as 'the Place'. And he explains that this refers to the location mentioned earlier in Vayeira at the Akeidah. There too, the Torah does not specify the name of the location (Har ha'Mori'ah, as Rashi explains), but writes "and he saw 'the Place' (es ha'Makom) from afar. It is interesting, possibly significant, that Har ha'Mori'ah shares the same name as its Master, as it appears in the Hagadah - 'Baruch ha'Makom'. Hashem is called by that name because He is the Place of the world and, bearing in mind the centrality of the Beis-Hamikdash, as we will discuss shortly, this description fits the Beis- Hamikdash too.


Later, when Ya'akov awakens after his prophetic dream, he declares "How fearful is this Place, it can only be the house of G-d!". And the Sifri explains that Ya'akov saw the Beis-Hamikdash built ("Mah noro ha'Makom ha'zeh"), destroyed ("ein zeh"), and rebuilt ("ki-im Beis Elokim"). Indeed, the Sifri makes the same d'rashah with regard to Avraham, following the Akeidah (as we explained in the main article on Parshah Vayeira), and with regard to Yitzchak (in Parshas Toldos, on the Pasuk "see the smell of my son - built; is like an apple field - destroyed; "which G-d blessed" - rebuilt. Each of the Avos, in their capacity as founding fathers of K'lal Yisrael, were promised Eretz Yisrael, and were shown a vision of the two Batei-Mikdash (which would later become three).


Two Pesukim later, Ya'akov names the place 'Beis-Eil', which refers to the Beis-Hamikdash, and not to the town of that name (as Rashi points out). And it is in this connection that Chazal in Pesachim (88a) make the following comment, (with reference to the Pasuk in Yeshayah [2:3] "And many nations will go, and they will say 'Let us go up to the Mountain of Hashem, to the House of the G-d of Ya'akov')" - 'not like Avraham who called it a mountain, nor like Yitzchak, who called it a field, but like Ya'akov, who called it a house', a place that is personal, respectable, secure and discreet. The Torah Temimah interprets the concept of house in this context, as a reflection of the intimate nature of the relationship between Hashem and Yisrael, which really incorporates each of these four qualities.


All this follows Ya'akov's dream, which, according to the Ramban, conveyed to him how G-d's Hashgachah works in this world, from His Throne to the realm of the angels and from there to that of the sun, the moon and the constellations. And it is therefore appropriate for this dream to have taken place in the Beis-Hamikdash, since that is the central spot on earth where all of this takes place - the spot where 'our prayers and our sacrifices ascend to Heaven' (Ramban).

Or as the K'li Yakar writes: 'Hashem showed Ya'akov all the worlds, to teach him that this was their source, which is why it is called 'Even Shesiyah' ('the Stone from which the entire world was formed'). Alternatively, because the blessings for all the worlds emanates from this spot, for it is this world that influences all of the upper worlds (they rise or fall, through our deeds or misdeeds). And this explains, he says, why the angels first ascended the ladder before descending it.


The K'li Yakar also explains that the setting of the sun two hours early represented the two years that the Beis-Hamikdash would later be destroyed before its time, as Rashi writes in Va'eschanan (4:25).

He also points out that Ya'akov did not lie down on a bed to sleep throughout the fourteen years that he studied in the Yeshivah of Shem and Eiver - until he arrived at 'the Place' and found the Beis-Hamikdash (see Rashi 28:11). And he compares this with King David, who described in Tehilim how he swore that he would not lie down or give sleep to his eyes until he found a place for Hashem ... .


No sooner had Ya'akov left Har ha'Mori'ah, and arrived in Charan, than the Torah relates the episode of the well.

Here too, Rabeinu Bachye following in the footsteps of the Ramban, connects this episode with the Beis-Hamikdash. K'lal Yisrael, as is well-known, are compared to sheep, he explains, and the three flocks that had already gathered, referred to the three sections of Yisrael (Kohanim, Levi'im and Yisre'eilim), and the three times a year that Yisrael would travel to Yerushalayim. All of the flocks that would gather there before rolling the stone off the well, hints at the gathering of all of Yisrael to draw Ru'ach ha'Kodesh from the well-springs of Divine inspiration, and to the power of Tefilah that can turn the Midas ha'Din into Midas Rachamim.


In addition, Rabeinu Bachye explains, the Beis-Hamikdash is portrayed as a well of water, because, based on the Pasuk in Yeshayah "For Torah will emanate from Tziyon ... ", and on the analogy of Torah to water, the Beis-Hamikdash and Torah are integrally interwoven.

And even the Divine connection is hinted in the first letters of the words "Ki min ha'be'er Ha'hi Yashku Ho'adorim Ve'ho'even" (whilst the word " gedolah" hint kabbalisticly, at the last 'Hey' of G-d's holy name) - which together spells the four-letter Name of Hashem.

* * *

Parshah Pearls


The Four Angels

" ... and behold angels of G-d ascending and descending it (the ladder)" 28:12. The Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos explains that the angels referred to in the Pasuk were none other than the angels of Bavel, Madai, Yavan (Greece) and Rome. G-d was actually showing Ya'aov the four exiles, but above all, how many rungs of the ladder each nation would climb before it would come tumbling down (which explains the order - ascending before descending - when one would have expected the angels to descend first). And it also explains the expression "fearful" used by Ya'akov to describe the location. Ya'akov was, of course, about to commence the exile that was the forerunner of Galus Edom. It was therefore the appropriate moment to reveal this prophesy to Ya'akov.

The Ba'al ha'Turim supports the Da'as Zekeinim's explanation by pointing out that the numerical value of "olim ve'yordim" is the equivalent of 'Bavel u'Madai, ve'Yavan ve'Romi'.


And to consolidate this explanation, he explains that the numerical value of "va'Hashivosicha el ha'adamah" (and I will return you to your land) is equivalent to that of 'me'arba'ah goluyos' (from the four exiles).


Tefilah and Torah

"And Ya'akov awoke from his sleep and he said (Vayikatz Ya'akov mish'noso, vayomer)" 28:16. The last letters of these four words spell 'Tzibur' (community), to teach us that a person's Tefilos are only answered when he Davens with a Tzibur, not when he Davens on his own.

Whereas "mi'shenoso" has connotations of Mishnah, to teach us that Ya'akov learned Torah day and night, even as he dreamt. (Ba'al ha'Turim). Perhaps, one might add, it also hints at the halachah that at night time, one should learn Torah She'ba'al Peh and not Torah She'bik'sav.


Gateway to Heaven

"And this is the Gateway to Heaven ... And Ya'akov arose early" (28:17/18). This teaches us says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that at dawn-break the Gates of Heaven are opened, which explains why that is a good time to Daven.


Flesh and Bones

"And Lavan said to him, but you are my bones and my flesh ... " (29:14).

This can be understood by recalling the Gemara in Nidah (31a), says the G'ro. The Gemara explains how, out of the three partners in the creation of man, it is the father who forms his veins and bones, and the mother, his flesh and blood. Accordingly, a relative on one's father's side is referred to as 'one's bones', and one on one's mother's side, as 'one's flesh'.

Lavan referred to Ya'akov as his bones and his flesh, because he was related to him both on the side of his father Yitzchak (seeing as their two grandfathers, Avraham and Nachor, were brothers), and on the side of his mother Rifkah (who was of course, his sister). Consequently, the term ''my bones and my flesh'' is most appropriate.


With the above Gemara, we can also understand why when, after Shaul's death, Yisrael gathered to David in Chevron they said to him "But we are your bones and flesh" (Divrei Hayamim 1 11:1). It is not at first clear why they referred to themselves as being his flesh and blood, rather than to him being theirs (like Lavan said here) as one would have expected them to say?

The answer is based on Do'eg ha'Edomi, who queried David's Yichus, and said to Shaul 'Before you ask whether David is fit to be king, why do you not first ask whether he is fit to marry into the community?' Because, as the Gemara in Yevamos (76b) explains, David descended from Rus the Moabite. And it was only later that this matter was cleared once and for all. In the meantime, his Yichus on his mother's side remained dubious. And that, combined with the above Gemara, explains why the people could only have said "But you are our bones", but not "our bones and flesh".

So they preferred to make the full statement 'We are your bones and flesh', seeing as it was David's Yichus that was in question, and not theirs (P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'Gro).


Tomorrow is Another Day

"And my righteousness will testify for me tomorrow (be'yom mochor)" 30:33.

The same word appears in Mishlei (27:1) says the Ba'al ha'Turim - "Do not boast about tomorrow (be'yom mochor), for you do not know what tomorrow will bring".

'You say that your righteousness will testify for you tomorrow, G-d retorted. Do you know that tomorrow your daughter will be abducted?'


The Trouble Maker

"And Lavan was told ... ki vorach Ya'akov (that Ya'akov had fled" [31:22]). And the same word occurs in Beshalach, where the Torah relates how the King of Egypt was told "ki vorach ha'Am".

Lavan tried to destroy everything, says the Ba'al Hagadah, whereas Par'oh only killed the males. And Chazal have said that when a gentile attempts to sin, it is considered a sin, even if he is prevented from actually committing it. So in support of the Ba'al Hagadah, the Torah uses the same words with Paroh as it used with Lavan


The Ba'al ha'Turim however, gives a different explanation. He points out that the person to inform Lavan of Ya'akov's flight, who was none other than Amalek, was also the one who would later inform Paroh that Yisrael had fled. And how do we know that Amalek was the culprit? Simple, answers the Ba'al ha'Turim, the numerical value of "ki vorach" is the same as that of Amalek!


Tamei, My Foot!

"And she said to her father, Let my master not get angry, for I am not able to stand up, since I have the way of women" (31:35).

Rachel was hinting here, says the G'ro, to the Mishnah in Shabbos (82a), which rules that idols render a person Tamei like a Nidah. Now Rachel had taken her father's images, and placed them under the saddle on which she was sitting.

In that case, when Rachel claimed that she was Tamei Nidah, she was actually telling the truth (P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'Gro).


Tzadikim Vow

"And Ya'akov vowed ... (Va'yidar Ya'akov)" 28:20.

Three times the word "Vayidar" occurs in T'nach; here, in Chukas (21:2, when they were attacked by the Cana'ani, King of Arad) "Va'yidar Yisrael Neder ... ", and in Shoftim (11:30) "Va'yidar Yiftach Neder la'Hashem".

To teach us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that Tzadikim (not the general public) would take vows, when the occasion demanded.

And the first person to do so was Ya'akov Avinu, which is why David Hamelech said (Tehilim 132:2) "Asher Nishba la'Hashem, Nadar la'Avir Ya'akov".

* * *

The Dinim and Minhagim of Eretz Yisrael

(Translated from the Seifer by Rav Kalman Kahana z.l.)
(chap. 44)

12. In Eretz Yisrael, on the second day of Pesach, which is the first day of Chol-ha'Mo'ed, when mentioning the Korban of the day in Musaf, one begins from 'Ve'hikravtem', just as one does on the other days of Chol ha'Mo'ed. And the fourth Aliyah during Leining begins from there too.

The first three Aliyos of that day's Leining, Lein in the first Seifer from "Shor o kesev" in Parshas Emor (Kohen until "Lo sa'asu", Levi until "be'chol moshvoseichem", and Shelishi, until "el B'nei Yisrael".

And in Musaf of Chol ha'Mo'ed Succos, one only mentions the Korban of the relevant day ("u'va'Yom ha'sheini" on the first day, "u'va'Yom ha'shelishi" on the second day ... ). And that is what one Leins for K'riy'as ha'Torah, the Korban of the day, four times (with the exception of Shabbos Chol ha'Mo'ed).


13. In most communities in Eretz Yisrael, the Kohanim 'Duchen' every day at Shachris, on days when Musaf is recited, at Musaf too, and on fast days, also at Minchah. One does not however, Duchen at Mincha on Yom Kipur, but at Ne'ilah, provided the sun has not yet set (giving rise to the strange phenomenon of a rushed Ne'ilah, but a slow, drawn-out ending).

The Kohanim do not Duchen at Shacharis on Tish'ah-be'Av, and in some communities, not on Shacharis on Simchas-Torah either (like in Chutz la'Aretz). In the north of the country, the Minhag is to Duchen only at Musaf on days when Musaf is recited.


14. The minhag in Eretz Yisrael is for an Aveil to Duchen after the Shiv'ah (unlike Chutz la'Aretz, where an Aveil for his parents does not Duchen for the duration of the year of Aveilus).


15. In Eretz Yisrael, it is not customary to keep the second day Yom-Tov. Consequently, Pesach lasts only seven days, the first and seventh days Yom-tov, with five days Chol-ha'Mo'ed; Shavu'os lasts only one day, and Succos, eight, the first and the eighth days Yom-tov, with six days Chol-ha'Mo'ed in between.

A ben-Chutz la'Aretz is not allowed to ask a ben-Eretz Yisrael to perform a Melachah for him on the second day of Yom-tov.


16. In Eretz Yisrael, the Minhag on Chanukah is for the Kohen to Lein the first half of "ba'Yom ha'sheini", for the Levi, until "Nesan'el ben Tzu'ar", and for Yisrael, to repeat the entire paragraph. And the same procedure is repeated on each subsequent day, with the following four exceptions -

1. On Shabbos, when only the relevant day is read, after the regular Parshah (as Maftir).

2. On Rosh Chodesh, when three Aliyos read the regular leining of Rosh Chodesh (Instead of four), and the fourth, the current day of Chanukah.

3. On Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Teives, when six people Lein in the first Seifer, the seventh, "u've'Yom ha'Shabbos" and "u've'Roshei Chodsheichem" in the second, and the relevant day of Chanukah in the third Seifer.

4. The eighth day (known as 'Zos Chanukah'), when Yisrael Leins from "u'va'Yom ha'Teshi'i" until "kein ta'aseh es ha'Menorah" in Parshas Beha'aloscha.


17. At a B'ris Milah, the father recites 'Shehechiyanu', after 'le'hachniso ...', at the B'ris of each and every son.

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