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

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Vol. 15   No. 7

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
R' Aharon ben R' YomTov Lipa

Parshas Vayeitzei

Departures & Arrivals
(Adapted from the Beis Halevi)

Rashi poses the question as to why the Torah sees fit to mention that Ya'akov left Be'er Sheva? Surely, he asks, it would have sufficed to inform us that he went to Charan, since that is where the events that unfold in this Parshah are about to take place. Where he came from seems immaterial? Rashi's answer is well-known.


The Beis Halevi explains that a person leaves one location to go to another for one of two reasons. Either he wants to leave the place where he is for whatever reason, or he needs to arrive at his new destination to achieve something that he cannot achieve in his current one. At the end of Parshas Toldos, Ya'akov's mother instructed him to go to Charan in order to escape from Eisav, who was planning to kill him; whilst his father ordered him to go there to find a wife. And the Pasuk there concludes by informing us that Ya'akov obeyed both his father and his mother. And that is what the Pasuk means when it states here "And Ya'akov left Be'er Sheva (to escape from Eisav, like his mother had commanded him), and he went to Charan (to look for a wife, in keeping with the instructions of his father).


There is a well-known principle 'that the deeds of the fathers are symbolical of what would later happen to the children'; in addition, we have a tradition that what happened to Ya'akov was the precursor of Yisrael's ultimate Galus. Based on these two facts, the Medrash connects the first half of the above Pasuk with Yisrael's exile from Eretz Yisrael, and the second half, with their suffering in Galus.

Yisrael's Galus, like that of Ya'akov, took place in two parts, their exile from Eretz Yisrael, and their suffering in foreign lands. And, like the Galus of Ya'akov, each one had a different role to play; the former was not in itself, a punishment, as G-d might just as well have punished them in Eretz Yisrael. It was due to the fact that the Kedushah of Eretz Yisrael does not tolerate sinners, as the Pesukim in Acharei-Mos and in other places testify.

As a matter of fact, the exile itself was to their benefit, for Eretz Yisrael is a land 'which G-d watches from the beginning of the year to the end'. Had they remained there, their deeds would have forced Him to destroy them. So He sent them to Chutz la'Aretz, which does not demand the same level of righteousness to survive. Once there, He punished them, but did not destroy them. This concurs with the opinion of the Ramban, who writes in Parshas Bechukosai that all the curses written in that Parshah (with the obvious exception of those that refer specifically to when Yisrael are in Galus) were said exclusively with regard to Eretz Yisrael, but not to Chutz la'Aretz.


The Medrash currently under discussion explains "Vayeilech Charanah" with reference to the burning anger of Hashem ('Charon-Af') when Yisrael are in Galus. That anger, says the Beis Halevi, plays a major role in the finality of the punishment, as he explained elsewhere, in connection with the Pasuk in Yirmiyah (15) "So says Hashem, 'Send them away from before Me, and they will take leave; and it shall be when they will say to you 'Where shall we go?', you shall answer them 'Those that are destined for the sword, will be for the sword ' ". To explain this Pasuk, the Beis Halevi turns to the Gemara in Chagigah, which cites a Tzedoki, who said to R. Yossi b'R. Chanina 'What chance does a nation have, whose Master has turned His Face away from them?'

To which R. Yossi replied 'His Hand is still stretched out over them!'

The Maharsha queries R. Yossi's answer, in that his words are based on a Pasuk in Yeshayah, which speaks about punishment ("Nevertheless, He did not withdraw His anger, and His Hand is still stretched out !"), so what sort of consolation was he conveying to the Tzedoki?


The Tur Choshen Mishpat rules that if someone leaves an object in the middle of the road, it is Hefker, and anyone is permitted to take it. On the other hand, the Gemara in Bava Kama (26) clearly holds that if the owner throws an article from the roof, it is not Hefker, in that it queries whether someone who breaks the article whilst it is in flight is obligated to pay or not.

To distinguish between the two cases, the Beis Halevi explains that whereas in the first case, the owner doesn't care what happens to the article, which is tantamount to declaring it Hefker, in the latter case, he wants the article to break, so until it does, he has not relinquished his ownership from it.


Likewise, in the Gemara in Chagigah, when the Tzedoki argued that Hashem has turned His Face away from Yisrael, he meant that Hashem has relinquished ownership and made them Hefker, R. Yossi b'Rebbi Chanina answered him that his argument would have been justified if sending them into Galus would have been the final blow (i.e. it would have indicated that Hashem no longer cares about them). But now that the Pasuk informs us that His Hand was still outstretched to inflict further punishment on them, He had not declared them Hefker at all. And that is also what the Pasuk in Yirmiyah means when it says "And you shall answer them 'Those that are destined for the sword, will be for the sword ' " - Going into exile is not the final punishment, which would have been indicative of leaving them to their own devices. Not at all, He still intended to punish them, which in turn, meant that they were still His people and there was hope that the Ge'ulah would yet take place.

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Parsha Pearls

The Place

"And he arrived at the place (28:11).

The Gemara in Chulin (91b) explains that this refers to Har ha'Moriyah (the location where the Beis Hamikdash was destined to be built).

The K'li Yakar comments that the Torah fails to give it a name. Indeed, he pointed out earlier in Vayeira (22:14), G-d deliberately kept the name secret, revealing it to no-one, not even to Avraham, whom he ordered to go to the place that He would instruct him, without mentioning it by name.


At the beginning of Lech-L'cha, Rashi explains that G-d deliberately withheld the name of Avraham's destination (Eretz Cana'an) from him, in order to endear it more in his eyes. Perhaps we can apply the same reason to His not revealing the location of the Beis-Hamikdash (neither here, nor throughout the Chumash - even in Parshas Re'ei, where He alludes to it a number of times, referring to it in terms such as "the place that Hashem will choose").

Rabeinu Bachye in Parshas Re'ei, quoting the Rambam, gives three reasons as to why the Torah makes a point of not revealing the location of the Beis-Hamikdash: 1. If the nations of the world would know that this was the place where prayers and sacrifices are accepted, they would all fight to establish it as their own capitol. 2. If the Cana'anim had known before Yisrael captured their land, that it would become Yisrael's focal point regarding sacrifices and prayer, they would have destroyed it in advance. 3. If Yisrael had known about it before distributing the land among the tribes, it would have resulted in endless inter-tribal strife (like we find with regard to the Kehunah). They all knew he adds, that Har ha'Mori'ah was special in its own right, but they did not know that it was the spot where the Beis-Hamikdash would be built.


The Legacy of Midos

"And it was the next morning, and behold it was Leah" (29:25).

And until now was it not Le'ah, asks Rashi? This teaches us, he explains, that during the night he believed she was Rachel, because, to spare her sister the embarrassment, Rachel had divulged the signs (Nidah, Chalah & Hadlakas ha'Ner) that Ya'akov, in anticipation of this very scenario, had taught her.


Rabeinu Bachye cites a Medrash which explains that Lavan's trickery did not begin on that night. Throughout the seven years, he explains, Lavan took the gifts that Ya'akov sent to Rachel and handed them to Le'ah. Rachel, who was aware of her father's interference, remained silent. This is what Chazal mean when they say that Rachel adopted the Midah of silence (a statement which does not fit so well with the Chazal that we cited above, since it is difficult to refer to Rachel handing over the signs as 'silence').

And they add that Rachel's children followed in her footsteps: That explains why Binyamin, who knew about the sale of Yosef, remained silent; Shaul said nothing to his uncle about his having just been crowned first King of Yisrael, and Esther (all descendants of Rachel) did not tell Achashverosh about her royal background.

Likewise, say Chazal, Le'ah adopted the Midah of gratitude (see next Pearl), and her descendents too, took their cue from her: Le'ah, say Chazal, adopted the Midah of gratitude (thanks), when she said, at the birth of Yehudah "This time I will thank Hashem". So all her children did likewise: Hence Ya'akov said later "Yehudah, your brothers will thank you", David said "Thank Hashem for He is good, and about Daniel (all descendants of Le'ah), it is written that he was 'giving thanks before Hashem'.


The First to Thank Hashem

"This time I will thank Hashem; therefore she called his name Yehudah" (29:35).

Until Le'ah arrived, nobody had ever thanked Hashem, says the Gemara in B'rachos (7b).

Why did she do so only after the birth of Yehudah?

One Medrash explains that when Reuven was born, Le'ah saw that Dasan and Aviram would descend from him, so she did not thank Hashem; When Shimon was born, she saw that he would have a descendant called Zimri, so she still did not thank Him; After the birth of Levi, she saw Korach. And it was only after Yehudah was born that she saw fit to thank Hashem.

Another Medrash explains how the Imahos, knowing that Ya'akov was destined to father twelve children, assumed that each of his four wives would give birth to three children. That is why, when Le'ah gave birth to a fourth son, Le'ah gave thanks to Hashem, for having given her more than her share.


Tit for Tat

"And Ya'akov took fresh rods of poplar, hazel and chestnut " (30:37).

How is it possible, asks the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. that Ya'akov (the epitome of Emes), should indulge in such trickery?

And they answer that he was merely following in the footsteps of Lavan. For, when Ya'akov stipulated that he remove the spotted and speckled lambs (so that Lavan would not be able to accuse him of having stolen them), but not the rams (so that the ewes would give birth to lambs like them), Lavan removed them all, lock, stock and barrel.

Furthermore, they cite the Chacham R. Chayim as saying, the agreement was to remove the spotted lambs, and Lavan went and removed the speckled one's as well.

Little wonder then, that Ya'akov felt justified in doing whatever was needed to recoup his chances of gaining.


The Terafim

"And Rachel stole the Terafim that belonged to her father" (31:19).

Pirkei de'R. Eliezer describes the Terafim: They would slaughter a human first-born, cut him up and pickle him with salt and spices. Then they would write on a golden plate the name of an evil spirit, which they would place under his tongue. After affixing him to the wall, they would kindle a light before him and prostrate themselves before him. The he would speak. And the reason that Rachel stole her father's Terafim was to prevent them from informing him that Ya'akov and his family had fled. Or perhaps it was simply to stop him from worshipping idols.


See What I've Got

"With whoever you will find your god, he will not live ascertain for yourself what is with me and take it back" (32:33).

Based on the premise that Ya'akov Avinu believed in the living G-d, whereas Lavan believed in man-made images made of wood and stone, devoid of spirit of life, R. Meir Shapiro (tongue in Cheek) explained the Pasuk like this: "Even assuming that you will find your god (of what value are they to you, seeing as they possess no life). See what I've got however, and take it for yourself (accept my faith, a true faith in the Living G-d").

* * *



"And Lavan said deceitfully 'I would rather give her to you than to somebody else; remain with me" (29:19).


" Lavan gathered all the men of his town and he prepared for them a feast; and he said to them 'For the seven years that Ya'akov has been with us, the well has not stopped flowing and the watering- holes have been full. Now let us work on a plan to trick him into remaining for another seven years'. And they worked out a plan whereby they would give him Leah instead of Rachel" (29:22).


"And Lavan took Zilpah his daughter, whom his concubine had born him and handed her to Leah his daughter as a maidservant" (29:24).


"And Le'ah became pregnant and she gave birth to a son, whom she called Reuven, because, she said, my shame is revealed before Hashem, and now my husband will love me. And just as my shame is revealed before Hashem, so too, should the shame of my children be revealed before Him when they are enslaved in the land of Egypt" (29:32).


" because Hashem heard that I was hated, so He gave me also this one, and in the same way may the voice of my children be heard before Him when they enslaved in Egypt, and she called his name Shimon" (29:33).


"And she became pregnant again and she bore a son and she said 'This time my husband will unite with me because I bore him three sons; In the same way, may his sons unite together to serve before Hashem; Therefore she called him Levi" (29:34).


' and she said 'This time I will thank Hashem, because from this son there will descend kings and from will there will come David, the king who will thank Hashem; Therefore she called him 'Yehudah' " (29:35).


"And Rachel said "Hashem has judged me favorably and he gave me a son. So shall He judge through Shimshon bar Mano'ach who will descend from him, and will deliver into his hands the Philistine nation. Therefore she called him Dan" (306).


"And Rachel said, 'I pushed my way before Hashem in prayer and Hashem accepted my prayers, giving me, not one son like my sister, but two; So should his children be saved from their enemies, when they urge Hashem in prayer. Therefore, she called him Naftali: (30:8).


"And she (Le'ah) said 'Good fortune has arrived, because his children will be the first to inherit their portion on the other side of the Yarden. So she called him Gad" (30:11).


"And Le'ah said 'How fortunate am I, for the daughters of Yisrael will praise me. And so will his children praise Hashem on the quality of the fruit of their land. Therefore she called him Asher" (30:15).

* * *


Two Prophets, Two Brothers

In 'The Haftarah' (Parshas Veyeira) we wrote that the Navi Ido was the Shunamit's husband.

Most commentaries maintain that he was in fact, her son, and this is borne out by the historical facts, as we will now explain. Who was Ido ha'Navi?

Ido was a disciple of Eliyahu ha'Navi, who lived in the time of Yeravam ben N'vat, and who prophesied with regard to the Mizbei'ach (see Melachim 1 13:1). According to the Gemara in Sanhedrin, he was the Navi mentioned later in the same paragraph, who abrogated his own prophecy (the only Navi ever to do so), and who was subsequently eaten by a lion. Now that episode occurred in the year 2964, whereas Elisha took over from Eliyahu in the year 3047, some eighty years later.

So Ido was no longer alive when the story with the Shunamis took place. Yet the Shunamis' husband obviously was when her son was conceived, and besides, he is mentioned specifically in the Haftarah - working in the field together with his son, when the latter complained of headaches.

It is of course possible, that the Shunamis re-married, and that he was her second husband; but if Ido was her son and not her husband, it would not be necessary to say that. Incidently, the Seder ha'Doros presents the Shunamis' husband as Ovadyah ha'Navi, which would seem to equate the Shunamis with 'the woman from among the wives of the prophets' with whom the miracle of the oil occurred (in Melachim 2, chapter 4), unless the latter was his second wife.

Based on what we wrote earlier, the Seder ha'Doros also explains that Ido was the son of the Shunamis, but who was no longer alive when the episode with Elisha took place (which explains why Gechazi, Elisha's servant, described her as childless and the events that subsequently took place).

Chavakuk was therefore her second son. He was the brother of Ido ha'Navi, though the two, who lived in different eras, never met.

According to the Seder ha'Doros' explanation, the Shunamis must have been at least a hundred when she gave birth to Chavakuk. But bearing in mind what we wrote last week, that she was Avishag's sister, this is not so surprising.

The Seder ha'Doros also writes that Chavakuk prophesied in the time of Daniel, at the end of Galus Bavel, in the year 3254, making him over two hundred years old at that time (a fact which he actually notes). In fact, he says, he was involved in the story with Daniel in the lion's den.

Is it not amazing that the Shunamis, who is mentioned in the year 3047, had one son who prophesied in 2964 (an eye-opener in its own right), and another, who prophesied in 3254!

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