CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS VA'YEITZEI 5767 - BS"D
1) Ch, 28, v.10: "Va'yeitzei Yaakov miB'eir Shova va'yeilech Choronoh" -
Yaakov did not return home until after spending 14 years in Yeshivas Eiver, and 22
years travelling and living in the home of Lovon. The gemara Megiloh 16a says
that we can derive that Torah study is greater than honouring one's parents,
since Yaakov was punished by having his son Yoseif missing for twenty-two
years, the same number of years that he was away from his parents in pursuit of a
marriage partner and staying with his father-in-law Lovon. However, for the
fourteen years that he spent in Yeshivas Eiver he was not punished. This must be
because Torah study is so paramount that it engenders no punishment although
it involves being away from one's parents. How is this conclusive? Perhaps
honouring one's parents is greater than Torah study, and Yaakov was punished for
the fourteen years he spent in Yeshivas Eiver. However, he wasn't punished for
the fourteen years that he had to labour for Lovon to be able to marry Rochel
and Leah, and the mitzvoh of being fruitful, "p'ru ur'vu," is greater than
honouring one's parents.
2) Ch. 29, v. 34: "Koro shmo Levi" - Rashi quotes the Medrash Dvorim that
says that Hashem sent the angel Gavriel to give the name Levi. How many people in
Tanach had their names predestined and told by Hashem or an angel what
his/her name will be?
3) Ch. 30, v. 3: "Hi'nei amosi" - Rashi in verse 2 and in this verse relates
a dialogue between Rochel and Yaakov. (R) Why don't you pray that I have
children, as your father Yitzchok prayed for Rivka? (Y) My father was also
childless, so he prayed. I am not childless. You are. (R) But your grandfather
prayed for his wife Soroh to have children even though he had a son from Hogor.
(Y) He prayed for my grandmother Soroh because she willingly brought another
woman into the household (Hogor). (R) If that's what is holding you back, here
is my maidservant Bilhoh.
This is most puzzling. Does Rochel have to introduce Bilhoh to have this
merit? She did MUCH more than Soroh did. Soroh brought in a maidservant who
remained but a maidservant, and only for procreation. Rochel gave over her signs
to Leah, allowing her to become a full-fledged WIFE of Yaakov and even risked
his wrath by her complying with the ruse. She might have been rejected and
never become his wife. Do we need more merit than this?
4) Ch. 30, v. 37,38: "Va'y'fatzeil bo'hen p'tzolos l'vonos mach'sof halovon,
Va'yatzeig es hamaklos asher pitzeil borhotim b'shikasos hamoyim" - And he
peeled their bark exposing their whiteness, And he stuck the rods that he peeled
into the water troughs - In our Hoshanoh Raboh prayers in the paragraph
beginning with the words "Taa'neh emunim" we mention the merit of Yaakov's peeling
sticks of wood and placing them into water troughs, "Taa'neh cholok m'fatzeil
maklos b'shikasos hamayim," as mentioned in our verses. What merit is there for
us, Yaakov's descendants from this, and isn't this seemingly a conniving act,
totally out of character for Yaakov, the paradigm of truth?
5) Ch. 31, v. 32,34: "Im asher timtzo es elohecho lo yichyeh, V'lo motzo" -
Rashi (M.R. 74:9) says that as a result of this curse Rochel died prematurely.
Since Lovon did not find his gods, why did Rochel die prematurely since Yaakov
stipulated, "im asher timtzo"?
1) The responsa Chasam Sofer Ch.M. #9 asks this and answers that
theoretically Yaakov could have fulfilled the mitzvoh of "p'ru ur'vu" at home and thus
remain with his parents. He actually left because of his mother's command to
leave for fear of remaining in harm's way through Eisov. This was his own doing as
he wrested the blessings from Eisov. He was therefore partially accountable
for having to leave. Therefore he deserved some measure of punishment for being
away all those years. However, when it came to learning Torah, the
opportunity to learn under the tutelage of Eiver only presented itself in Eiver's
Yeshiva, thus necessitating Yaakov to go there, and he deserved no punishment for
this. We can now conclude that Torah study is greater than honouring one's
2) Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer chapter #32 says six people had their names
foretold before their birth: Yitzchok, Yishmoel, Moshe, Shlomo, Yoshiyohu, and
Moshiach. Breishis Rabboh chapter #45 and Yerushalmi Brochos 1:6 list four of these
six people. The Holy Zohar on parshas Noach page 60 says that Hashem gave
Yaakov his name. Rashi on 25:26 says the same. In Yeshayohu 9:5 the Radak says
that the name Sar Sholo-m was given before birth.
3) It seems that indeed helping Leah was much greater as seen from Chazal on
"Rochel m'vakoh al bo'ne'ho" (Yirmiyohu 31:14). However, this was not a merit
for having children. Her intention was to save Leah from shame (see Rashi on
29:25). Soroh gave Hogor to Avrohom specifically for procreating (16:2). This
was an appropriate merit for Soroh to also have a child.
4) Hashem had promised Yaakov that he would leave Lovon with a vast amount of
cattle, but specifically spotted, banded, etc., as conveyed to him by an
angel (31:11,12). Having so many of Lovon's cattle give birth to spotted, etc.,
offspring was clearly a miracle. Benefiting from miracles is prohibited as per
the gemara Taanis 24. As well, the gemara Shabbos 32a says that even if one
merits a miracle it is at a great cost, because it is deducted from his merits.
The M.R. says that the merits retained by a righteous person by not having
miracles take place on his account are passed on to later generations.
Armed with these points we can now say the following: Lovon lost nothing
through Yaakov's act, as Hashem promised him cattle from Lovon's flock. Had Yaakov
sat back and done nothing the animals would still have reproduced spotted,
etc., offspring. Yaakov's peeling the bark off sticks and placing them into the
cattle's water trough, thus psychologically affecting the animals to have
striped, etc., offspring brought it into the realm of the natural. Thus he did not
use up his merits by benefiting from a miracle. In turn this leaves over
merits for his descendants, and this is the merit we mention in our Hoshanoh Raboh
prayer. (Chamudei Zvi)
1) Rabbi Yechiel Stern shlit"a answers that the medrash says that Lovon did
search in Rochel's cushion and found containers. He suggests that the medrash
is forewarning this question. Hashem wrought a miracle and changed Lovon's
idols into containers so that Rochel should not be caught lying. Lovon did not
realize that these were his gods, but he did find them.
2) Perhaps the question can be answered with the gemara Makos 11b, which
states that the curse of a righteous person comes to fruition even if it was
predicated on a condition that was not fulfilled. Thus Yaakov's curse came to
fruition even though his stipulation that it only be so if Lovon's gods were to be
found was not fulfilled. However, there is a difficulty with this answer. If
it is correct, why did the gemara bring a proof for this from the negotiation
of Yehudoh and Yaakov in 43:8, and not bring an earlier proof from here?
Possibly this is because we can refute the proof from here with the answer given by
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