Machon Daniel Torah Weekly
“To Stir the Mind and to Light up the Shabbos and the Holidays”
Parshas Vayeitzei 2017/5778
The gift of Shabbos is free and open to all – looking for yiddin to grab it and use it with love and yearning! During these long winter Friday nights/Leil Shabbos, after the Shabbos meal, let’s try and take advantage of it and spent invaluable time in the Beis Medrash!
With the Power of Total Dedication to Torah Learning and a Complete Guarding of Shabbos Kodesh, Yaakov Left His Comfortable Surroundings in Eretz Yisrael Ready to Face the Incredible Challenges of Beis Lavan in Order to Climb the Ladder of Torah in order to Reach the Pinnacle Level of Yisrael
“ויצא יעקב מבאר שבע וילך חרנה” (בראשית כח:י)
“And Yaakov went out from Be’er Sheva and went toward Charan” (Bereishis 28:10)
Rashi asks, apparently there is no reason to tell us that Yaakov left Be’er Sheva (for this is already known to us) and that the posuk should have begun with “וילך יעקב חרנה” / “and (he) went toward Charan”! So why then does it mention his leaving from Be’er Sheva!? (See Rashi’s answer.) In addition, we need to ask why the posuk says “וילך חרנה” and not “וילך אל חרן”!?
With G-d’s help, we can suggest the following explanation: What was the main purpose of Yaakov’s journey to Charan? To reach the ultimate level of Yisrael! (And this was finally achieved when Yaakov returned to Eretz Yisrael and had his name changed to Yisrael by the angel and then again by Hakadosh Baruch Hu Himself.) However, in order to reach this level, Yaakov had to leave his father’s home and leave Eretz Yisrael as well and live under the wicked and deceitful Lavan who reigned over his land with the most evil energies of spiritual impurities which were at his disposal.
With this introduction, we can attempt to get a better understanding of the wording of our posuk and the meaning behind it.
“ויצא יעקב” / “And Yaakov exited” – That is, the minute Yaakov accepted upon himself the goal of eventually reaching the level of Yisrael, it was considered as though he had already exited his level of “Yaakov”.
“וילך חרנה” / “and he went toward Charan” – That is, he understood that he was headed to a place which triggered Hashem’s anger called “חרון אף” “charon af”. In addition, he realized that he was soon to face tremendous challenges in which he would have to endure terrible suffering. Nevertheless, he accepted all this upon himself for he knew it was the only way he could reach the great level of Yisrael!
“מבאר שבע” / “from Be’er Sheva” – What tools of war and struggle did Yaakov take with him in order to be able stand up to Lavan and his evil ways and eventually be able to overcome them? The identity of these critical tools are hinted to in the words “באר שבע” / “the well of seven”. “באר” / “well” refers to Torah as it states “הואיל משה באר את התורה” / “Moshe began to explain/expound the Torah” (Devorim 1:5). And “שבע” hints to Shabbos which falls on the seventh day. Thus we find that Yaakov did not leave Be’er Sheva until he felt that he was adequately entrenched in the kedusha and the knowledge of Torah and Shabbos!
In fact, we find that Torah learning and the keeping of Shabbos are hinted to in pesukim regarding Yaakov. Torah learning is hinted to in the words“וישכב במקום ההוא” / “and he slept in that place” (Bereishis 20:11). Rashi explains that this is a wording of exclusion, meaning “in that place” Yaakov slept, but that during the previous fourteen years that he was learning Torah under the tutelage of Aiver he didn’t sleep at night at all!
And Shabbos is hinted to regarding Yaakov in the posuk“ויבא יעקב שלם עיר שכם… ויחן את פני העיר“ / “And Yaakov came lacking nothing to the city of Shechem… and he graced the face of the city” (ibid. 33:18). The sages (Bereishis Rabbah 79:6) explain this to mean that Yaakov reached the city of Shechem as the sun was about to set before Shabbos and he then extended the borders of the city with the placement of his Shabbos meal outside the city’s borders.
Thus we find that with the weapons and ammunition of dedicated Torah learning and a complete and widened guarding of the Shabbos, Yaakov went to face his tests and tribulations at the hands of Lavan.
The truth is that Torah learning and Shabbos are not two different energies, but they are actually one and the same, only that Torah is the message and Shabbos is the path through which the message can penetrate the limiting physical boundaries of this world. Thus we find that according to all opinions, the Torah was given on Shabbos (Shabbos 86b) for it could only enter this world through the kedusha of Shabbos!
Because of this reason, our main obligation regarding Shabbos is simply to refrain from doing weekday work. In doing so we clear a path in the atmosphere of physicality and limitation so that the Torah can penetrate and find a resting place in this world. This is as we find that the Jewish people fulfilled the Torah even before they fully understood it, for they instinctively understood that through the following of Hashem’s will, and specifically through the refrainment from creative work on Shabbos, they are sewing a path through which the true meaning of the Torah can be revealed.
And this method by which we connect with the Torah is eternal! That is, the intensity of the revelation of Hashem’s Torah is dependent on the proper observance of the laws of Shabbos and of all the laws of the Torah which emanate from it.
For this reason Shabbos was created without a partner as we find in the words of our sages (Bereishis Rabbah 11:8), Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai taught, Shabbos said before Hashem, Master of the World, all of the other days have a partner and I do not!? Hashem answered, the Jewish people will be your partner. When the Jewish people stood at Har Sinai, Hashem said to them, remember that which I told Shabbos that the Jewish people would be its partner. This is the intent behind the commandment“זכור את יום השבת לקדשו” / “Remember the Shabbos to sanctify it” (Shemos 20:8).
This is in line which that which we mentioned above, that in order for the Torah to penetrate this world, association with physical improvement must be quelled. Thus, Shabbos stands alone, leaving room for the Torah to be exposed and for the Jewish people to learn it! Thus the sages teach us that we should dedicate Shabbos to Torah learning.
Maybe with this we can explain why at the end of the sixth day of creation the Torah says “וירא אלקים את כל אשר עשה והנה טוב מאד” / “And Hashem saw all that He had created and behold it was very good” (Bereishis 1:31). Why does it say here “very good” while on the other days it says only “good”!? The answer is that Hashem saw that the physical creation of the world ended with the sixth day and thus the seventh day could be dedicated fully to the study of Torah! And this is “very good”!
The gift of Shabbos is free and open to all – looking for yiddin to grab it and learn it with love and yearning!
During these long winter Friday nights/Leil Shabbos, after the Shabbos meal, let’s try and take advantage of it and spent invaluable time in the Beis Medrash!
The Great Merit of Community Work, the Teaching of Torah and Enlightening the Uneducated
“עודנו מדבר עמם ורחל באה עם הצאן” (בראשית כט:ט)
“He (Yaakov) is still talking with them (the shepherds) and Rachel is coming with the sheep” (Bereishis 29:9)
In our Parsha we are confronted with the dramatic appearance of Rachel arriving at the scene where Yaakov is conversing with the local shepherds, leading her father Lavan’s flock of sheep toward the well to drink. What does the Torah intend to teach us by revealing this scenario to us!?
We can suggest, with G-d’s help, as follows: at first Yaakov asked a number of questions to the shepherds; Do you know Lavan? Is all well with him? After the shepherds had answered all of Yaakov’s questions, it would appear that Yaakov should have continued on his way. However, Yaakov, inspecting the way the shepherds were behaving, decided to offer them some words of rebuke and direction, during which time Rachel arrived leading her father’s flock. This teaches us that if Yaakov had not rebuked the shepherds, he would have continued on his way and missed Rachel’s arrival!
Regarding which issue did Yaakov rebuke the shepherds? Rashi explains that he saw that their flocks were lying down and he thought that the shepherds were gathering them together in order to bring the home. Yaakov said to them “הן עוד היום גדול“ / “now there is plenty of daylight ahead”. Meaning, if you are hired workers, you have not yet completed your job. And, if you are the owners of the animals, nevertheless, “לא עת האסף המקנה” / “the time has not yet arrived to gather them in”.
That is, rather than immediately continuing on his way upon hearing that all was well with Lavan, Yaakov spent an extra few minutes offering helpful advice to the shepherds. During the short time he was doing this, Rachel, his future wife and mother of his sons showed up with her father’s flock.
From this episode the Torah is teaching us the great value in doing community work! That is, in return for helping the shepherds, Yaakov merited to set up his own family which developed into the greater family of the Jewish nation!
If we look deeper into Rashi words, we can explain that Yaakov was teaching the shepherds the fundamental concepts of Judaism (as the sages explain that all our forefathers engaged in teaching Torah to all who would listen).
We can suggest that that which Yaakov told them to fulfill their obligations as hired workers was an example of mitzvos between people, and that which he told them “לא עת האסף המקנה” / “the time has not yet arrived to gather them in” was referring to mitzvos exclusively between G-d and man. That is, he taught them that even in a case where a person is not confronted with an obligation toward another man he still has a responsibility toward G-d not to waste the valuable time and the wherewithal G-d has given him to accomplish in this world! In this, he gave them the basis of the whole Torah in one sentence!
Additionally we can suggest, with G-d’s help, that the expression“הן עוד היום גדול” / “now there is plenty of daylight ahead” is hinting to the future great day of judgment as is written “לפני בוא יום ה’ הגדול והנורא” / “before the arrival of the great and awe-filled day of Hashem” (Malachi 3:23) (meaning Hashem’s day of final judgment of mankind). Yaakov taught them that all of man’s actions during his whole lifetime are recorded and presented before Hakadosh Baruch Hu on the day of judgment and therefore they should be observant of their actions, doing only what is right in the eyes of G-d so that they will be found to be meritorious on the final day of judgment!
And in that which he said “ולא עת האסף המקנה” / “the time has not yet arrived to gather them in” Yaakov meant to teach them that although they may have already amassed together many merits with which to stand before Hashem on the day of judgment, they should not rely on them but rather look to use each additional minute of life which Hashem grants them to continuously add merits to their records.
Yaakov added to the above saying “השקו הצאן” / “water the flocks”. “צאן” / “flocks” are hinting to the Jewish people who are referred to as a flock of sheep as it states “ולו אנחנו עמו וצאן מרעיתו” / “we are to Him, His people and His guarded flock” (Tehillim 100:3). That is, the main obligation and responsibility of the nations is to serve the Jewish people so that they are able to fulfill the holy work of Hashem which was given to them at Sinai. This is as Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Shabbos 35b) explained the posuk “ועמדו זרים ורעו צאנכם” / “and foreigners (the nations) shall stand and shepherd your flocks” (Yishaya 61:5) to mean that when the Jewish people are properly fulfilling G-d’s will, their physical responsibilities will be fulfilled by others. Similarly, the prophet states regarding the Jewish people (ibid 61:6) “ואתם כהני ה’ תקראו משרתי אלוקינו יאמר לכם” / “and you shall be called the priests of G-d, the servants of G-d shall be said (by the nations) regarding you”.
The Malbim explains the above posuk as follows: G-d wants that the relationship between the Jewish people and the nations should be similar to the relationship between Aharon HaCohen’s seed and the rest of the Jewish nation. Just as the priest did not engage in matters of livelihood such as working the field or tending to the sheep, rather the bulk of the Jewish people supplied their needs through the twenty four gifts which the Torah commands to be given to the Cohanim, so too all of the Jewish people will serve Hashem as priests and the nations of the world will supply all their physical needs and will care for their flocks and work their land.
And that which Yaakov added “ולכו רעו” / “go and shepherd” appears to be hinting to the fact that if a member of one of the nations feels an internal calling to come closer to Hashem and His commandments, the door is open for a him to convert and become part of the Jewish people.
As a result of Yaakov’s great concern for the spiritual benefit of these shepherds who were previously unknown to him, he was rewarded to meet and eventually marry Rachel and build a family full of true servants of Hashem.
From the above we learn, that one who either works for the benefit of the community, teaches Torah to others or reaches out to strangers to teach them of their basic obligations to Hashem their G-d, will in return merit to great reward in the future!
Wishing you a gevaldick and warm Shabbos!