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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 28, v. 20: "Va'yidor Yaakov neder" - And Yaakov made a vow - The Sidur HaShal"oh cites Shosha'nei Leket on T'hilim 146:3, "Al tiv't'chu vindivim." Medrash Shochar Tov says that these words allude to primary man, Odom Horishon. Hashem showed him a glimpse of what would take place throughout the generations. H was shown that King Dovid would die a stillborn. Odom donated seventy years of his life to King Dovid, and this is how long he lived (see the Holy Zohar on parshas Va'yishlach, who calculates King Dovid's years as a collection of 33 years from Yaakov and 37 years from Yoseif). Odom was originally going to live 1,000 years. When he came close to 970 years of age he rescinded, and asked Hashem to give him back the 70 years. Hashem showed him that Yaakov would keep his promise made in this verse, and Odom likewise, relented and said that he would keep his word, allowing King Dovid the 70 years he originally contributed. Shosha'nei Leket says that this is the meaning of the verses in T'hilim 146. "Al tiv't'chu vindivim," - do not rely on donours, "b'ven Odom," Odom Horishon. "Teitzei rucho yoshuv l'admoso," - when his soul is about to depart and he is to return to his earth, "ba'yom hahu ovdu eshtonosov," on that day his promises seem to be lost because he wants to rescind his offer. "Ashrei sheKeil Yaakov b'ozro," - fortunate (is King Dovid) that Hashem is there to help him, and point out to Odom that Yaakov kept his promise, thus prodding Odom to keep his promise.

Ch. 28, v. 20: "Va'yidor Yaakov neder leimore" - And Yaakov made a vow thus saying - The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh says that "leimore" teaches us that Yaakov did not make this vow in his heart only. He verbalized it, as otherwise it would not be binding. This is most puzzling, as based on the gemara Shvuos 26b, commentators derive that when the vow is made to sanctify something for the service of Hashem, even a thought to do so is binding. In verse 22 he sanctified a tenth of his property for Hashem. Perhaps, because it was a conditional vow, thought alone is not binding.

The Rambam hilchos arochin 6:1 says that even though a person's promise to sanctify something that has never come into existence is not binding, if he vows that he will sanctify it, the vow is binding. Thus the item, when it comes into the donour's possession is not automatically sanctified, nevertheless, he must sanctify it when it becomes his. The Rambam cites verse 22 as his proof. Our problem is now solved. Although sanctifying something in one's heart is binding, here where the items to be tithed were not yet Yaakov's, he was limited to a commitment by vow to later sanctify it. The vow surely needs to be verbalized, and this is the intention of the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh.

This answer might be refuted. The Rivo"sh in responsa #228 says that before the Torah was given one could create a binding transaction, such as selling an item, that is not yet his. He cites the sale of the primogeniture birthright that Eisov sold to Yaakov as his proof. If so, the Rambam's proof seems to be negated. However, the Rambam himself in hilchos m'lochim writes that a ben Noach is not bound by "lo yacheil d'voro," that one not desecrate his word, i.e. one is committed to keep his word. If so, what sort of proof does he have from Yaakov's promise to later sanctify a portion of his possessions? We perforce must say that he understood that Yaakov wanted his commitment to be a stringency, based on the laws that would govern the bnei Yisroel after their receiving the Torah. The laws that would govern the bnei Yisroel after their receiving the Torah include that one cannot sanctify an object that is not yet his. Therefore we must say that nevertheless there is a commitment to do so by virtue of a vow.

There is more on this subject in responsa Chasam Sofer Y.D. #243. (Pardes Yoseif)

Ch. 28, v. 22: "V'ho'evven hazose" - And this stone - Chatzi Menasheh, a collection of comments on the Torah by Rishonim, compiled by Rabbi Menasheh Grossberg, relates that this stone was later taken and placed in a row of stones for the wall surrounding the Mikdosh compound, it would continuously fall. The builders decided that the stone somehow sensed that the Beis Hamikdosh would eventually be destroyed and the surrounding walls would be felled. They therefore put it to the side, citing the words "Evven mo'asu habonim" (T'hilim 118). King Shlomo in his vast wisdom communicated with the stone, swearing to it that even if everything else is ch"v destroyed, the stone would remain intact and not be removed from its location. It was then placed specifically into the western wall.

This is most interesting, but it raises a question. If we assume that Yaakov sanctified the stone through his actions in verse 18 (see Meshech Chochmoh's comment on the term "y'tzikoh"), then how could it be used for a lesser sanctity, as part of an outer wall? However, Rabbeinu Bachyei says that the libations were not a sanctification of the stone, but simply offerings. Rashi's words here and on 31:13 seem to indicate that all it was, was a commitment to later bring offerings on this stone again, which he indeed fulfilled upon his return from Padan Aram.

Ch. 29, v. 2: "V'ho'evven g'doloh al pi ha'beir" - And the large stone was on the mouth of the wellspring - Tosfos Hash'leim says that the elaboration about the stone teaches us that in Yaakov we have the fufillment of the verse "v'kovei Hashem yachalifu cho'ach." In my print of Tosfos Hasho'leim the word "v'kovei" is spelled with two letters Vov. It does not appear this way in the verse, but as is often the case, the spelling of commentators, who write without vowels (nikud), is done in a manner that eases the accurate reading. For example, we always find the word "hee," even when it appears in the verse spelled with a Vov, as is always the case in the Torah save eleven places, nevertheless appearing in Rashi with a Yud. This is for the ease of the reader, so that he not incorrectly read the word "hU."

However, the word Vov-Kuf-Vov-Yud is correctly pronounced "v'koyei" according to the Minchas Shai. Thre would then be no place to spell it with two letters Vov even without vowels (nikud), as it is not read "v'kovei." Based on the text of Tosfos, it seems that they posit that the word is indeed read "v'koVEi, contrary to the opinion of the Minchas Shai.

Ch. 29, v. 6: "Va'yomru sholo-m v'hi'nei Rochel bito bo'oh" - And they answered there is peace and behold his daughter Rochel is coming - They were very curt with Yaakov, giving him a one word answer to his inquiry. They continued with, "And behold his daughter ...," intimating to him that if he has any more questions his daughter is now here and she could be asked. (Rabbeinu Tovioh)

Ch. 29, v. 7: "Va'yomer hein ode ha'yom godol" - And he said behold the day is still long - Moshav Z'keinim derives from Yaakov's advice to the shepherds that if someone sees improper behaviour in another he may not remain quiet, but instead, he is responsible to give them proper guidance.

However, Minchoh V'luloh says that Yaakov told them this to get them back to work so that he could speak to Rochel in privacy.

Chizkuni says so that they leave the wellspring area and then Rochel would not join them. He wanted her attention.



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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