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Einayim L'Torah Parshas Vayeitzei PDF 5766.

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Parashat VaYeitzei - The Importance of Work
Page 7
Behind Leah's Eyes Page 9
Parashat Va-Yetze: The Dream of Jacob Page
After the Ladder: Yaakov's Purpose Page 14
Bolt of Inspiration 43 - Baby, We Were Born
to Run Page 15
Thanksgiving and the Jew Page 16
In Praise of Tefillas Minchah Page 20
The Two-Fold Lesson of Yaakovs Departure
Page 22
Jacob's Ladder Page 24
Lavans Real Personality Page 25
Parshas Vayeitzei - Yaakov's Tithe Page 29
Yaakov's journey to Charan: a lesson in
Bitachon Page 32
Hashem's Promise to Yaakov - for all
Generations Page 33
Dvarim HaYotzim Min HaLev - VaYetze Page 34
Shema Koleinu - Vayetzei Page 44
What Place? Page 48
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Table of Contents
Articles from the Marcos and Adina Katz
Toronto Torah: Vayyetze 5773 Page 54
What's in a Name, Place, and Time? Page 58
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Table of Contents
Articles from the Marcos and Adina Katz
December 10, 2005
7 Kislev, 5766
Parshas Vayeitzei
Volume 20, Number 10
This issue is sponsored by Tal Kerem in honor of the recent engagement of Michael Schmidt and Tali Berger
Yaakov Avinu and Limud Hatorah
Rabbi Hershel Reichman
t is quite interesting to analyze
the Torahs description of
Yaakov Avinu. In parshas
Toldos, Yaakov is described as an
ish tam yoshev ohalim a simple
man, a dweller of tents. We see
from here that Yaakov had a
tremendous love for limud
haTorah Torah study so
much so that the Midrash states
that he spent fourteen years
learning in Yeshivas Shem
vEiver. The question that can be
raised is why the Torah deems it
so important to emphasize the
fact that Yaakov valued limud
haTorah so much.
We do know that Yaakov Avinu
serves a role as av bgalus, a
leader in exile, as he spent a sig-
nificant amount of time dwelling
in Mitzrayim. In the darkness
and depression of galus, one
cannot survive without the con-
stant study of Torah. The mida
of chesed alone for which
Avraham Avinu was so
renowned would not suffice.
This can be borne out very clear-
ly by observing the United States.
Despite the fact that there are
many philanthropic institutions
and the like, they do not preserve
our Jewish identity and we watch
the rate of assimilation climb
with each passing day.
Similarly, the mida of tfila, for
which Yitzchak was so renowned
would not be sufficient in galus.
Again, by observing modern
times, this can be proven to be a
factual truth. The flourishing
Reform and Conservative move-
ments place a great deal of
emphasis on prayer and yet are
sadly lacking in their religious
observance. Only Torah then is
capable of preserving the Jewish
people in galus.
The question to be asked is why
only Torah is capable of accom-
plishing this feat. The Torah is
intent upon placing emphasis on
the past, the present and the
future. We always are reminded
of past events and warned about
what will happen in the future if
we do not adhere to the dictates
of the Torah. Those who do not
live their lives through the Torah,
however, live only for the pres-
ent. Thus, an exile can very easi-
ly destroy their world, and this
has proven to be the case time
and time again. However, a per-
son who lives his life with an eye
Candles Dawn Sunrise Shema (MA) Shema (Gra) Tefilla (MA) Tefilla (Gra) Chatzot Mincha Ged. Shkia Havdala
4:10 P.M. 5:57 A.M. 7:09 A.M. 8:53 A.M. 9:29 A.M. 9:51 A.M. 10:15 A.M. 11:48 A.M. 12:12 PM. 4:28 P.M. 5:13 P.M.
Honor Thy Father
and Mother (Part 1)
Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky
fter amassing a tremendous amount of wealth,
Lavans sons claimed that Yaakov took his wealth
from Lavan (Genesis 31:1). We all know the truth
Yaakov got all of his wealth from Hashem, and Lavan
was blessed only because of Yaakovs presence. Lavans
sons claimed the exact opposite! What exactly was
going on here?
The problem with Lavans sons was that they were not
attributing their wealth to the correct source. They did
not believe that Hashem was capable of bestowing
wealth upon people, and therefore attributed the
wealth that Lavan had amassed over the years to his
own hard work and business acumen. There are, in
fact, many people who do not attribute their success to
Hashem. They think that they really achieved all of
their goals by themselves.
In the next few pesukim, we read that Yaakov decided
to leave Lavan. This juxtaposition tells us that his deci-
sion to leave was linked to these claims of Lavans sons.
We learn from Yaakov that when we encounter such
negative influences in our surroundings, we must get
up and move in order to avoid that dangerous percep-
tion at all costs. We must always remember that Hashem is
the source for everything in this world.
The Source of Wealth
Written by Michael Stein and Josh
Weinberg based on shiur given by
Rabbi Sobolofsky at Morasha BMP of
summer of 05.
especting our mothers and
fathers has long been a sta-
ple of normative Jewish living
and has almost come to
embody the strict ethical
behavior Judaism requires in
all areas of our lives. But what
is the nature of this obligation?
And when a person respects
his parents, is he performing a
commandment that is
between him and G-d (bein
adam lamakom) or one that is
between him and fellow man
(bein adam lachaveiro)?
Any Jewish child in elemen-
tary school could tell you that
listed on the right tablet (the
first five) are commandments
between man and G-d and
on the left, commandments TableTorah
continued on page 3
Yair Manas
continued on page 2
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woken suddenly from his
first sleep in fourteen years,
Yaakov is startled by a revelation
concerning his descendants exile,
redemption, and eventual great-
ness. His reaction appears puz-
zling. Surely Avraham and
Yitzchak had informed Yaakov of
these promises (13:15-16 and
26:24), but he is nevertheless
awestruck: There is God in this
place and I didnt even know it!
this place is nothing if not the
House of G-d and this is the
Gate of Heaven! (28:16-17).
Why such amazement? Also, why
does Yaakov call the place by two
names: Beis Elokim, House of
God, and Shaar Shamayim,
Gate of Heaven?
Last things first: Yaakov knew
that to actualize its potential, the
Beis Elokim needed the Shaar
Shamayim. The term Beis con-
notes a source or place of poten-
tial: a Beis Elokim represents the
mere physical possibility of
prayer but not the profound spir-
itual impact which can come of a
Shaar Shamayim, a gate to
Heaven, at which one inwardly
feels and outwardly expresses
his realization of the constant
presence of G-d in that place
(note Rashi, Vzeh Shaar
HaShamayim). The physical site
of the Beis Hamikdash one of
sacrifices and prayers was not
what startled Yaakov but rather the
discovery of this place as a Shaar
Shamayim, a means of contact
with God. He learned that we can
connect to God on the supremely
minimalist level of songs and
spices. We can create a Shaar
Shamayim out of a Beis Elokim.
Honor Thy Father and Mother
We can connect to God
with the simplest
between man and man. The command-
ment to respect parents is on the right side,
and on a simple level, it would seem that it
falls under the category of bein adam
lamakom between man and G-d.
Is there any room to disagree? The Mishna
in Peah (1:1), which we recite daily after bir-
chas hatorah, lists learning Torah and
respecting our parents among the com-
mandments that one receives peros
(rewards) for in this world as well as the
world to come. The Rambam (Pirush
HaMishnayos, ibid.) says that the Mishna
lists those commandments that naturally
make the world a better place. Acts of lov-
ing kindness (gemillas chasadim) and
accompanying the dead foster love and
warmth within humanity, and the positive
ramifications of acts like these in this world
is self evident. The same holds true for hon-
oring ones parents, which strengthens
familial bonds and prevents family
breakups, which unfortunately, are today
so common in Western society. Although a
proof could be brought from this Rambam
that honoring ones parents is in fact bein
adam lachaveiro (between man and man)
since it influences the love and warmth we
show to others, one could simply say that
the Rambam means to describe the practi-
cal benefits of respecting ones parents, not
to tell us any halachic classifications.
What would be some of the practical differ-
ences between whether we consider the
obligation to honor ones parents a com-
mandment between man and G-d or a
commandment between man and man?
There is a Gemara that discusses whether a
parent can absolve a child of the childs obli-
gation to honor him. The concept of fore-
going an obligation owed to you certainly
exists in cases of monetary damages. If
someone breaks your window, you can
decide whether to demand payment or
not. In this sense, the claimant creates the
damagers obligation to pay.
Similarly, Tosfos in Kesubos says that only
the recipient of an obligation or honor has
the right to forego the honor (colloquially
stated, be mochel). If we are to compare
kibbud av to the laws of damages, then the
father can be mochel on the honor (kavod)
due to him since he is the recipient (baal
Once we say that the mechilah
of a father and mother fits into the broader
definition presented in the laws of dam-
ages, and the same parameters apply to
both, it would seem that kibbud av is a bein
adam lachaveiro commandment, just
as damages are bein adam lachaveiro com-
However, one could argue that the whole
concept of kavod to parents is subjective.
The Gemara states that one obligation of
kibbud av is to dress ones father, but con-
cludes ritzono shel adam, zehu kevodo
the will of an individual, that is his [subjec-
tive] honor. Since kibbud av is subjective,
a parent is allowed to forego the honor
due to him, thereby redefining the mitzvah
of kibbud av. For example, if your parents
are arriving at the airport at 3 a.m. and
theyll get upset if you drive three hours to
pick them up, you should not pick them
We have explained that if we understand
the ability of a parent to be mochel as a
function of the normative law of mechila in
monetary cases, then we have a clear cut
proof that kibbud av is bein adam
lachaveiro. However, if we understand the
mechila of a parent as an outgrowth of the
inherently subjective nature of the mitzvah,
this is not necessarily true. One practical
difference between these two understand-
ings is in a case where the father is mochel
and then changes his mind and undoes his
mechilah. Is the son now obligated in kib-
bud av? If we say the mechilah here fits
into the normal laws of mechilah, the
honor of the parent is absolved forever, and
the parent has no right to reinstate it. But
if the mechilah is merely an expression of
the fathers desires, then the father can be
mochel and subsequently undo his mechi-
lah as he pleases.
1 Question asked by Minchas Chinuch.
2 Applying this logic to the obligation to honor ones
Rebbeim, one could argue that since we consider
kavod for the Rebbe kavod haTorah honor for the
Torah, the Rebbe has no control over its mechilah.
Hence, there is a dispute regarding whether a Rebbe
can be mochel on his kavod. Everyone agrees that a
king cannot be mochel on his kavod since Hashem
instituted the concept of a king, and therefore has con-
trol over his kavod.
Leib Zalesch
continued from page 1 Prelude to Exodus
continued from page 1
continued on page 3
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toward the future can always cling to a belief
in the impermanent nature of galus.
The importance of synthesizing events of
the past present and future to help us keep a
proper perspective while in galus is reflected
in the ha lachma anya at the beginning of
the Hagada. Ha lachma anya di achalu
avhasana This is the bread of affliction
that our fathers ate reflects a view of the
past while kol dichfin yeisei vyeichol
Whoever is hungry come and eat places
the stress on the present. Finally, we con-
clude with a hope for the future: though we
are now slaves (hashta avda) next year we
will be free (lshana habaa bnei chorin).
We are confronted by the knowledge that the
present exile is merely a temporary phenom-
enon which will soon pass.
Another important aspect of Torah is that it
teaches us about the importance of hash-
gacha pratis, divine providence, a phenome-
non by which Yaakov lived his entire life. In
parshas Vayeitzei (25:20), Yaakov swears: If
Hashem will be with me and guard me in this
path and give me bread to eat and clothing to
wear, and I will return to my fathers house in
peace, and Hashem will be my God. We see
that Yaakovs life was one that was depend-
ent upon the intervention of divine provi-
dence. This can be clearly reflected in his
dealing with Lavan and Eisav, who would
have killed Yaakov if not for the intervention
of the hashgacha pratis. Similarly, Yaakov
would have never been able to endure his
arduous journeys and flights without the
help of Hashem. Undoubtedly, Yaakovs
limud haTorah provided him with the knowl-
edge that everything is dependant upon the
will of Hashem; no other source reflects
hashgacha pratis more than the Torah.
How can we apply this lesson to our daily
lives? The Jewish people have clearly
received a special hashgacha. But we must
constantly be aware that it is only because of
limud haTorah that we have merited this
hashgacha. The midrashic interpretation of
Yaakovs words to Eisavs messenger, Im
Lavan garti, I lived with Lavan is that
I kept the 613 mitzvos. Yaakov is stating
that the observance of the mitzvos is what
preserved him in exile. A synthesis of past,
present and future events, aided by limud
haTorah will allow us to remain optimistic in
galus. We must always remain cognizant of
the fact that our future is meaningless with-
out limud haTorah. In merit of limud
haTorah may we be zoche to see the coming
of Mashiach speedily in our days.
Yaakov Avinu and Limud Hatorah
vhv, ohn, Prelude to Exodus continued from page 2
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Yaakov needed to discover that true Avodah
service allows for a profound connection
between Heaven and Earth before he could
undergo the servitude and exile which would
bring him and his children back to that mun-
dane avodah. Yaakov needed to come to this
personal discovery before he crossed the river
into exile, although his descendants would
cross the Sea before returning to this place,
because it gave purpose to the Exile and the
return. Without understanding what true serv-
ice of Hashem was, the crossing of the Sea
would have been a geopolitical event at best
but without the profound spiritual conse-
quences which it had. That we can connect to
God with the simplest resources this realiza-
tion gave energy and meaning to the Exodus!
We have the opportunity to actualize our full
potential in Avodas Hashem. At that point we
will have crossed the Sea with the vision and
purpose of Yaakov Avinu.
Maharal notes that Chanukah falls exactly three
months after the creation of the sun on the
25th day of Elul. The sun is farther away from
Earth now than at any other time of year; the
nights longest, the days darkest. Chanukah, his-
torically and individually, comes as we most
need renewed faith that light will conquer dark-
ness and that His providence is evident even at
the darkest hour. Yaakovs discovery provides
reassurance and renewal. He watched in awe as
a simple mound of earth became the greatest
Makom Hashem. We, too, can turn an empty
room into a Shaar Shamayim.
continued from page 1
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Title: Einayim L'Torah Parshas Vayeitzei PDF 5766.
Parsha Points in Vayeitzei
Ephraim Meth
In a dream, Hashem promises Yaakov personal protection, and bequeaths Israel to his
Yaakov, in return, pledges one tenth of his possessions to Hashem, and vows to establish a
house for Hashem.
Yaakov meets Rachel his cousin and future wife and rolls a stone off the well to water
her sheep.
Yaakov agrees to shepherd Lavans sheep for seven years in exchange for Rachels hand in
marriage. When seven years elapse, Lavan gives Leah to Yaakov instead. Yaakov marries
Rachel too in exchange for seven more years work. Rachel and Leah give Yaakov their maids,
Bilhah and Zilpah, in marriage. Yaakovs children are: Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Yehuda, Dan,
Naftali, Gad, Asher, Yissachar, Zevulun, Dinah, and Yosef.
After seven more years, Yaakov demands permission to return home. Evading Lavans financial
chicanery, Yaakov and family depart wealthy.
Lavan chases after his terafim, secretly stolen by Rachel. (Hashem warns Lavan to be wary
speaking with Yaakov of good or bad.) When he cannot find them, Yaakov berates him for
his trickery and falsehood. Yaakov and Lavan enter a non-aggression covenant.
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Parashat VaYeitzei 5766

After Yaakov leaves Eretz Yisrael, his first interaction with people is with the shepherds gathering
around the well in Charan. When Yaakov sees them, he comments to them, The day is still long and it
is not time to gather the flocks; water the sheep and go feed them. Rashi explains that when Yaakov
saw them lying down around the well, he thought they wanted to gather the livestock and go home for
the day. He said to them, The day is still long, meaning that if you were hired for the day, you have
not completed the days work, and if the animals belong to you, It is not the time to gather the flocks
nevertheless. The question that must be asked is why Yaakov, who was unfamiliar with the people, the
culture, and the customs of Charan, was driven to say anything in the first place? The importance of
this question is bolstered by the fact that sefer Bereishit is maaseh avot siman babanim.

When we contemplate Yaakovs life, we discover something very interesting. On his last night in Eretz
Yisrael, the Torah says, And he lay down in that place. Rashi explains that only in that place did he
lie down, but during his fourteen years in the yeshiva of Shem and Eiver, he did not lie down at night.
While he certainly slept, for he was human, he never went to sleep; he simply crashed over his sefarim.
His last night in Eretz Yisrael was the first time he actually lay down to sleep.

When Yaakov confronts Lavan many years later, he says, During the day I was consumed by heat and
by frost at night, and my sleep wandered from my eyes. The gemara in Bava Metzia (33) explains
that Yaakov worked day and night, much more than he needed to. In other words, Yaakov was a
person who could squeeze every moment for all its worth. Yaakov could not tolerate batala

In Avot dRabbi Natan (11), it says, A person only dies while engaged in batala. Chazal say in the
Midrash that work is greater than the patriarchal merit, because Yaakov says to Lavan, Were it not for
the G-d of my fathersyou would have sent me away empty-handedin the merit of his fathers, he
received his wagesand the L-rd saw my hard work and rebuked you last nightin the merit of his
hard work, Lavan was unable to lay a finger on Yaakov to harm him. Yaakov teaches us the
importance of hard work and avoiding inactivity.

This is why the mishnah in Avot says, Hamefaneh libo lvatalah mitchayev bnafsho, One who turns
his heart to inactivity has brought a death sentence upon himself. When HaKadosh Baruch Hu blesses
us in Parashat Bechukotai, one of the berachot is ufaniti aleichem, lit. I will direct my attention to
you. The Admor of Gur comments homiletically that ufaniti aleichem appears in Bechukotai as
both a klalah and a berachah, suggesting that zman panui (related to the root of ufaniti), free time,
can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on whether you take advantage of it or let it go to waste.

Yaakov Avinu could not stand to see the shepherds wasting their time around the well and wished to
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Author: Rabbi Meir Goldwicht
Title: Parashat VaYeitzei - The Importance of Work

teach them the importance of work. When Yaakov goes on in the parasha to build his family and his
home, he teaches us that this requires a person to go out and work. Working is not a bdieved lifestyle.
Quite the opposite Shlomo haMelech says in Kohelet, See a life with your wife whom you love.
Rashi explains that this is a craft to go hand-in-hand with your Torah learning. The same lesson is
clear in Rabbeinu Bechayeys interpretation of the passuk, Six days shall you work (taavod, lit. serve)
and complete all your work: Six days shall you serve Hashem by completing your work, like the Avot.

R Hutner writes in Iggeret 94 that having a career is not a double life. If it is centered around Hashem,
it is a broad life. This is the path to Hashem when a persons work connects him to kedushah, he
merits hashraat haShechinah. As R Tarfon says, HaKadosh Baruch Hu only infused Yisrael with his
Shechinah once they did melacha.

Through this lesson, we will merit the blessing of, And you shall spread westward and eastward,
northward and southward, and all the nations of the world will be blessed through you and your

Shabbat Shalom!
Meir Goldwicht
Rav Meir Goldwichts weekly sichah on the Parsha and Moadim
is a service of YUTorah, the online source of the Torah of
Yeshiva University. Get more parsha shiurim and thousands of
other shiurim, by visiting
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Author: Rabbi Meir Goldwicht
Title: Parashat VaYeitzei - The Importance of Work
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Author: Jennifer Polin
Title: Behind Leah's Eyes
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Author: Jennifer Polin
Title: Behind Leah's Eyes
Genesis 28:10-14 (JPS translation) reads as follows:
Jacob left Beer-Sheba, and set out for Haran. He came upon a certain place and stopped
there for the night, for the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of that place, he put it
under his head and lay down in that place. He had a dream; a stairway was set on the
ground and its top reached to the sky, and angels of God were going up and down on it.
And the L-RD was standing beside him and He said, I am the L-RD, the God of your father
Abraham and the God of Isaac: the ground on which you are lying I will give to you and
your offspring. Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread out to
the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All the families of the earth shall
bless themselves by you and your descendants. Remember, I am with you: I will protect
you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have
done what I have promised you. (The translation of sulam as stairway differs from other
translations: ramp or the most common one of ladder. The Rambam in The Guide of the
Perplexed I:15 translates And the L-RD was standing on the ladder [ and not standing
beside him ( Jacob )] ).
The meaning of the dream of Jacob is one that has elicited numerous interpretations over the
years. For his part, the Rambam offered at least three different interpretations of the episode.
Rambam understood that Jacobs dream represented a prophecy. The elements of the dream
constitute an allegory that has to be reinterpreted. What is most particularly fascinating is
that in this case, Rambam utilized a Midrash on the dream for his own purposes. [Over
twenty years ago, in a Hebrew article in Bar Ilan: Annual of Bar Ilan University: Studies in
Judaica and the Humanities, Vol. XXII-XXIII (1987), pp. 329-49, Professor Sara Klein-
Braslavy discussed the various interpretations that the Rambam offered to the narrative, and
my presentation is largely based upon her article. One of the points she makes is that
according to the Rambam, a prophetic dream can have multiple meanings, and, if one takes
the different interpretations of the Rambam of the dream in their entirety, that is exactly what
we have here.]
The first interpretation of Rambam is given in his halakhic magnum opus, Mishneh Torah,
Hilkhot Yesode Ha-Torah 3:7. The 2
one can be found in his philosophic magnum opus
The Guide of the Perplexed 1:15, and the 3
is further along in the same book, 2:10. In
Mishneh Torah, the point of the dream of the ladder is the revelation of the future history of
the children of Israel. In both expositions in The Guide, however, the subject of the dream is
Sitrei Torah: the mysteries of the Torah. According to the first interpretations of that book,
the subject of the dream deals with the physics of the sublunary world and the world of
the celestial spheres, and human apprehension of the universe and the image of the
prophet as the ideal leader. According to the second interpretation found in the Guide, the
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Author: Rabbi David Horwitz
Title: Parashat Va-Yetze: The Dream of Jacob
point is simpler: it only concerns the nature of the sublunary universe. (One should
remember that Rambam understood physics as such to be the referent of the Talmudic phrase
maaseh bereshit, the esoteric discipline that along with maaseh merkavah (in the
Maimonidean scheme, metaphysics) composes the subject matter of sitrei Torah) (It should
be noted that there may even be a fourth interpretation by the Rambam, one cited in his letter
to R. Hasdai Ha-Levi, but, as Prof. Klein-Braslavy notes, there are problems with assuming
that it is indeed a separate Maimonidean explanation., most notably because many scholars
reject the authenticity of this letter.)
In his interpretation of the dream in Mishneh Torah, Rambam does not write that he is
homiletically interpreting the dream but rather is presenting the plain meaning or peshat.
The rungs of the ladder symbolize the oppression with which various kingdoms will oppress
the Jewish people. This idea was already stated in various Midrashim, such as Pesikta de-Rab
Kahana, and Midrash Tanhuma. According to this explanation, the ladder represents the
ladder of time. The angels represent kingdoms. This fits quite nicely with the Maimonidean
interpretation of angel as messenger. The four kingdoms were the messengers of God Who
acted to fulfill His plans for the Jewish people. In his Iggeret Teman as well, Rambam refers
to Gods promise to Jacob that the nations who would oppress the Israelite would eventually
vanish from the scene.
In Guide of the Perplexed 2:10, Rambam develops his thesis that the number 4 plays an
important role in the structure of sublunary physics. There are four basic elements (earth, air
fire and water). There are four essential forms of being on the earth (minerals, plants, animals
and humans. There are four subdivisions among the celestial bodies that cause effects on the
sublunary sphere: the sphere of the moon itself, the sphere of the sun, the sphere of the
planets, and the sphere of the fixed stars (Rambam, of course, was operating within the pre-
Copernican, Ptolemaic worldview). Then, in a remarkable move, Rambam quotes the
Midrash Tanhuma that claims that there were four rungs on the ladder that Jacob saw in his
dream. (Rambam admits that were other texts of the Midrash that claimed that a different
number of rungs existed.) Moreover, Rambam maintained that there were precisely four
angels, and that they were all on the same rung of the ladder. Two were going up and two
were going down. Thus, what is represented by the angels? The four elements (fire, air,
earth and water) Thus, the dream expresses the basic tenets of Aristotelian physics! The four
elements are all on the same rung, they are the four elements of this world of generation
and corruption, as opposed to the fifth element which constitutes the nature of the heavenly
Thus, the sitrei Torah that Jacob saw in his dream expressed the tenets of Aristotelian
p. 12
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Author: Rabbi David Horwitz
Title: Parashat Va-Yetze: The Dream of Jacob
The most complex interpretation of the Rambm is that offered in the first part of the Guide.
(I: 15) Rambam begins with the assertion that one cannot interpret passages that use the word
nitzav (to stand erect) with reference to
God in a literal sense. Thus, one cannot interpret the verse And behold, the L-RD stood
upon it (the ladder) literally. Rather, it has the meaning of something stable and constant.
God is stable above the ladder, of which one end is upon the world of generation and
corruption, the earth, and the other end in the heaven. What do the angels represent? The
prophets. How does ascending and descending pertain to prophets? The prophet ascends
intellectually, and receives prophetic inspiration from God. Then he descends to the people,
with the decree of the prophecy, and teaches the people the contents of that decree. According
to this explanation, the moral point of the dream was to teach the lesson that man should
strive to become a prophet, which allows him to most perfectly engage in the act of Imitatio
Dei, the Imitation of God, by guiding the religious community.
Remarkably, the three different interpretations of the Rambam all use different aspects of the
Midrashic literature on the parable of the ladder. This case serves as an example of the point
that Rambam did not simply abandon previous literature when propounding his own ideas.
On the contrary, he worked the insights of various Midrashim into his own worldview.
p. 13
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Author: Rabbi David Horwitz
Title: Parashat Va-Yetze: The Dream of Jacob
After the Ladder: Yaakovs Purpose
Rabbi Maury Grebenau

Weldon Longs story begins as he experiences the loss of his father while in prison for
the third time in the wake of a failed marriage and an abandoned son. The loss pushes him to
consider making changes in his life. Still in jail, he finds a copy of Stephen Coveys book,
Seven habits of highly effective people. He decides to set goals for himself and completely
changes the direction of his life. He gets a higher education while still in jail and upon his release
he rebuilds his relationship with his son, remarries and becomes successful. What an amazing
story of perseverance and triumph over adversity
. What can we take out of his story to apply to
our own lives?
There is a very peculiar expression used as Yaakov leaves to the land of Bnei Kedem
after his vision of the ladder extending Heavenward. The pasuk (Bereishis 29:1) says that
Yaakov carried his legs. The Seforno draws a distinction between a person carrying their legs
and the legs carrying the person. When a person has goals and a purpose, then they carry their
legs, they consciously move themselves through life. Every action has clear direction and
purpose. This is how Yaakov felt immediately after seeing a vision which indicated that he was
the next link in the chain which was the foundation of our chosen nation. He walked with a
bounce in his step, but more importantly, with purpose in his stride.
Immediately after this, Yaakov is able to perform a superhuman task of rolling an
enormous rock off of the well near Rivkas home. Here, Yaakov is also privileged to meet his
future wife and to begin the next stage of life. Both of these things were only possible once
Yaakov understood his goals and began to move with purpose. Once Yaakov moved with a clear
goal and a destination in mind he was able to overcome challenges as well as move on to the
next stage in his life.
Many times even when we come to major crossroads in life we let our feet carry us.
Whatever is easier seems the logical choice. We move in the same direction as others in our
community and group of friends without much thought. Our feet carry us, instead of the reverse.
Weldon Long could easily have let his feet continue to carry him down the path which he had
chosen. Instead he made a conscious decision to look for a different direction. His every action
became goal-oriented and even in the darkest of situations he was able to draw strength from the
future he knew he was creating for himself. The more we can give thought to decisions in our
life, the more we will be blessed with the happiness that comes from knowing our efforts are
directed towards our goals. We will be charting a path instead of just staying the course.

p. 14
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Author: Rabbi Maury Grebenau
Title: After the Ladder: Yaakov's Purpose
Let us begin by quoting the classic words of Bruce Springsteen: In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a
runaway american dream At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines Sprung from cages
out on highway 9, Chrome wheeled, fuel injected and steppin out over the line Baby this town rips the bones
from your back Its a death trap, its a suicide rap We gotta get out while were young `cause tramps like us,
baby we were born to run Some people are born to run. That is, we find them running more than other
people. Yaakov is one such individual. At the bookends of our parsha - we find him running. He is returning
from running at the beginning of the parsha, and he is running at the end of the parsha. Why is Yaakov
always running? There are many reasons to run. One can run because they are leaving or abandoning
something. Yaakov was clearly fleeing the wrath of Esav. However, at some point one has to stop running
and find a circumstance or value that replaces the very thing that he or she has run from. You can't run
forever. Whenever we make a choice we must ask ourselves: are we running from something, something that
scares us and are we therefore taking refuge in the safe alternative or are we choosing a new destination
because that's what we really want for ourselves. The verse says " " -
"And Yaakov left Be'er Sheva and he went to Charan." Why does the Torah use the language of "" (left)
and "" (went)? The Steipler Gaon answers, along the lines of our very idea, that people leave somewhere
either because they're running away from something or because they have to go somewhere. Yaakov was
doing both. The word for "run" in Hebrew is . It is also the route of the word , which means "will."
For where you run to or from is the greatest expression of your will. Yaakov expressed us his will to stay
clear of Esav and he in turn expressed his will to arrive at the next stages of his life - transcendence,
marriage, and the building of a dynasty.
p. 15
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Author: Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn
Title: Bolt of Inspiration 43 - Baby, We Were Born to Run
Thankgiving and the Jew
dl weqt hk wxt ziy`xa
:z c N n cn r Ye d cEdi Fn W d ` x w o M l r w wi z ` d cF` m r R d x n`Ye o A c l Ye cFr x d Ye
When Leah gave birth to a fourth son, she said, Now I will thank God. Therefore, she
named him Yehudah. And she ceased giving birth.
Every member of the Children of Israel identifies with the term Jew. We are known as, and
respond to the name the Jewish People. However, the term Jew derives from Judah, the translation of
Yehudah. Being that there are twelve, or thirteen tribes of Israel (depending on how you view Ephraim
and Menasheh) it is curious that we associate ourselves solely with the tribe of Judah.
It takes little more than a superficial knowledge of basic Jewish history to explain this
phenomenon. As we know from tanach, after King Solomon died, the Jewish monarchy was split in two.
King Solomons son, Rechavam, ruled over Judah and Benjamin, while Yeravam son of Nevat, from the
tribe of Ephraim, ruled over the other ten tribes. From that point on there were two kings over Israel, the
Davidic dynasty ruling over Judah and Benjamin, while kings from other tribes ruled over the other ten
tribes. This continued until Assyria conquered Samaria and exiled the ten tribes from the land of Israel. At
that point, only the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained in the land of Israel. For some reason,
either because the monarchy belonged to Judah, or perhaps additionally because Judah was so much larger
than Benjamin (see the last two chapters of Judges), the remaining members of the children of Israel were
termed Judeans.
d weqt a wxt xzq`
:ipi ni Wi ` Wi w o A i r n W o A xi `i o A i k C x n Fn WE d xi A d o WEW A di d i cEdi Wi `
There was a Judean man in the capital city of Shushan. His name was
Mordechai the son of Yair, the son of Kish, a Benjaminite.
The Talmud (Megilla 12b) points out a contradiction in the above verse. First we are told that
Mordechai was from the tribe of Judah, but the end of the verse states that he was from Benjamin.
Several answers are offered to resolve this contradiction.
d weqt a wxt xzq` i"yx
icedi yi` . oia micedi miiexw eid dcedi ikln mr elby oze` lk dcedi zelb mr dlby lr
:md xg` hayn elit`e miebd
[He is referred to as Judean] Due to the fact that he was exiled along with the
exiles of Judah. All that were exiled along with the kingdom of Judah were
called Yehudim among the nations, even if they were from another tribe
1. See Megilla 14b where chazal relate that the prophet Jeremiah brought back members of every tribe to the land of Judah and Benjamin.
p. 16
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Author: Rabbi Etan Moshe Berman
Title: Thanksgiving and the Jew
Thankgiving and the Jew
Rashi, always eager to explain verses based on the most straight-forward approach, quotes the
opinion of chazal that despite the fact that he was actually from the tribe of Benjamin, Mordechai was
called Judean because, he part of the Judean exile. From this we understand why all Children of Israel
today are referred to as Jews.
However, there is another explanation for the identification of Mordechai with Judah in the
.bi - :ai sc dlibn zkqn ilaa cenlz
iax... !iz`w oinipan `nl` ,ipini dil ixwe ,iz`w dcedin `nl` ,icedi dil ixw
dceara xtky mey lr ?icedi dil ixw i`n`e ,iz`w oinipan mlerl xn` opgei
l`ipc) 'ebe oi`cedi oixab izi` aizkck .icedi `xwp dxf dceara xtekd lky ,dxf
He is called Judean, implying that he is from the tribe of Judah. Yet, he is called
a Benjaminite, implying that he is from the tribe of Benjamin! ...Rebbi
Yochanan said, In reality he was from the tribe of Benjamin, so why is he called
Judean? Due to the fact that he rejected idolatry. Anyone who rejects idolatry
is called Yehudi, as it says, There are Yehudain men... O king, your god they do
not worship, and to the golden statue that you have erected they do not bow
(Daniel 3).
According to Rebbi Yochanan, the term Yehudi, or Jew in modern terms, refers to one who
rejects idolatry. He derives this definition from the story related in the book of Daniel regarding
Chananyah, Mishael and Azariah who refused to bow to the statue of Nevuchadnetzar, and were therefore
deemed Jews
I think that this idea of Rebbi Yochanan is not merely a nice philosophical idea, but rather a
critical part of our Jewish identity, and something we should consider whenever the term Jew is mentioned.
Additionally, I believe that this idea, in its essence, can be traced back to the naming of Judah himself.
Allow me to explain.
This has great halachic significance as well; see Tosafos bzman she'atah on Gittin 36b as to how shmitah was obligatory according to
Torah law in the times of the first and second Temple.
2. See the Maharsha who explains the proof from this verse that Jew means anything other than a member of the exile of Judah. He
claims that the words three Jewish men are extraneous. As is apparent from the rest of the story, Nevuchadnetzar never appears to
view the actions of these three individuals as a reflection of the Jewish attitude in general. Therefore, the fact that they are Jews was
irrelevant. Had they been non-Jews, the response of the king would have been the same. If so, why are they referred to as Jews?
According to Rebbi Yochanan, to teach us that whomever rejects idolatry is deemed a Jew.
p. 17
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Author: Rabbi Etan Moshe Berman
Title: Thanksgiving and the Jew
Thankgiving and the Jew
dl weqt hk wxt ziy`xa
:z c N n cn r Ye d cEdi Fn W d ` x w o M l r w wi z ` d cF` m r R d x n`Ye o A c l Ye cFr x d Ye
When Leah gave birth to a fourth son, she said, Now I will thank God. Therefore, she
named him Yehudah. And she ceased giving birth.
The word hodaah in Hebrew has two possible meanings. On the one hand, it refers to
thanksgiving. On the other hand, it refers to admission. Rav Yitzchok Hutner ztl in his Pachad Yitzchok
points out that we find both meanings in our daily prayers. In the paragraph modim anachnu lach in the
amidah prayer, we begin with the statement, We admit to You that You are God etc. Yet, a few
sentences later we add, and thank You... for etc. The Hebrew words for admit and thank are modim
and nodeh respectively, both rooted in the word hodaah. Similarly, in the naming of Judah we find
references to both ideas.
dl weqt hk wxt ziy`xa i"yx
dce` mrtd . :zecedl il yi dzrn ,iwlgn xzei izlhpy
[This time I will thank] because I have taken more than my share. Due to this, I
should thank.
Rashi explains that the wives of Yaakov knew prophetically that there were to be twelve tribes
from four wives. Even distribution would allow each wife to have three sons. Once Leah had a fourth
boy, she realized that she had received more than her fair share, and thanked God for this. She therefore
named her fourth son Yehudah based on the word hodaah, meaning thanksgiving, and formulated
(perhaps unwittingly) to include all four letters of the Tetragrammaton.
dl weqt hk wxt ziy`xa iiga epiax
.'d z` dce` mrtd fnxp jkle ,daeyzd zcn `id zecn b"iay oey`xd myd `ed
d"r cec erxfn `vi jkle ,dceiy oae`xl mxbe yea `le dced ik ,enya dfd myd
.daeyz ly dler miwdy
[This time I will thank Hashem] This [name of God] refers to the first name of
God in the thirteen attributes, and references the trait of repentance. Therefore,
this name of God is hinted to in his (Judahs) name, because he admitted [to
being wrong] and was not embarrassed
(see Gen. 38:26). He also caused
Reuven to repent (see Sotah 7b). Therefore, David, peace be upon him, who
established the burnt offering of repentance (see Avodah Zarah 4b-5a), was his
3. See Sotah 10b where the Talmud states that Yehudah, who sanctified the name of God in public (through his public admission of guilt),
merited that his name was composed of all the letters of Gods name. The Maharsha explains that even though Leah named him
Yehudah based on the Hebrew word for thanksgiving, God inspired her to use every letter of the Tetragrammaton and add the letter dalet,
a reference to admission - because due to the addtional dalet, meaning his admission, he merited the other four letters.
p. 18
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Author: Rabbi Etan Moshe Berman
Title: Thanksgiving and the Jew
Thankgiving and the Jew
While Rabbeinu Bechayei is certainly addressing a hint in the verse, as opposed to the
straight-forward interpretation of Rashi, nonetheless, you see that in addition to the element of
thanksgiving inherent in the name Judah, there is also an element of admission.
There is overlap between thanksgiving and admission. When one thanks another, in effect, he is
admitting that were it not for that person, he would be lacking. When we thank someone, we recognize
that we are not the source of that which we have received. Thanking God is, in essence, also recognizing
that He is the source of that for which we are thanking Him. The requests that we make in the daily
amidah are also recognitions that we depend on Him for everything. Ultimately, a Jew is one who
recognizes that God is the source of everything. This is what Rebbi Yochanan is teaching us.
Rejection of idolatry necessarily involves the recognition of the one true source of existence. As
opposed to the idolatrous view that multiple forces are at work in the world, independent of a higher
authority, a Jew believes that all forces in the world are an expression of the will of the one true God.
There is a drive in man to broaden his sense of self, and limit his perception of Gods influence. When
allowed to break free, this drive results in idolatry. The rejection of this drive involves admission, hodaah
that everything is influenced by God and is under His control. This attitude and outlook comes with broad
implications for every aspect of our lives that we should attempt to keep at the forefront of our
consciousness. In this way, we prove ourselves to be true Jews.
p. 19
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Author: Rabbi Etan Moshe Berman
Title: Thanksgiving and the Jew
Insights into Torah and Halacha from Rav Ozer Glickman "
In Praise of Tellas Minchah
(:' )
Some non-observant acquaintances of mine assume every year that I know exact-
ly when the clock changes for Daylight Savings Time. It is a safe assumption about any
Torah-minded Jew. So much of our Torah-centric lives revolve around the time of day:
how early we may put on , how late we may recite the , when does begin...
No matter how cloistered we are inside the ofce or the , one small part of us is
always attuned to the cycle of light and darkness outside our window.
Our internal halakhic clock is always running, no matter what else we are doing.
Because one level of our consciousness is active in the background ready to react if we
encounter a , our lives may be said to be a fulllment of the imperative com-
manded to :
This book of the Law shall not leave your mouth, for you shall meditate on it day and not, so that
you may take care to act according to everything written in it- then you will be prosperous and
act intelligently.
Although our consciousness may be focused on other things, our mind is prepared to be
interrupted when we encounter a situation of : a poor person requiring , a ash
of lighting and a roll of thunder neccessitating a ... In this way, the imperatives of
Torah are never fully out of mind ( " " ).
" present two models for the cycle of we recite daily:
It was stated: R' Yosi b-R'Chanina said the daily prayers were ordained by the patriarchs; R'
Yehoshua ben Levi said the daily prayers were ordained in place of the daily sacrices.
The prevailing halakhic opinion is, of course, that the cycle of daily prayers is patterned
after the daily sacrices. Nevertheless, the offered by the to buttress the
connections to the are, like other aggadic expositions, not meant to be fanciful.
is associated with because he represents the awakening of to
the light of the early morning. The chosen for rreects this aspect of his
life as recorded in the Torah:

And Avraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with
him. He split the wood for a burnt offering, got up and went to the place the Lord had told him:
p. 20
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Author: Rabbi Ozer Glickman
Title: In Praise of Tefillas Minchah
His service starts early in the morning because represents the dawn of Jewish
history. rose early when the world is reborn to unlimited potential, even
when an obstacle looms ahead.
At the other end of the cycle is , who described his life to as shorter
and more bitter than the lives of his ancestors. The episode depicting the relationship of
to " is the night spent at . His service must take place at night because
represents the darkness of and the struggle for redemption.
In the middle is whose service takes place in the afternoon, when it is
still light but we are conscious of the approaching sunset. People are still out and about
conducting their affairs. They may meet in the marketplace or by the coffee machine to
exchange gossip or catch up on the events of the day. Our father also sought con-
versation but of a different sort than that pursued by his contemporaries:
And Yitchok went out to meditate in the elds before evening and he looked up and saw that
camels were coming:
At this time of the year, many of us nd the weekday service an onerous re-
sponsibility. When the clock shifts to Daylight Savings Time, we are forced to also make
an abrupt shift in our afternoon schedules. Although the day has been getting shorter
for weeks, the sudden time change can wreak havoc with the comfortable patterns of
our daily routines. Coffee breaks, leisurely chats with colleagues and friends, or just a
few minutes to think are put on hold. The shadows are lengthening and we must com-
plete our service at the appointed time.
It is service to be cherished precisely for the challenge it presents. At the start of
the day, anything is possible and we rush off to serve with the condence of
that the day has the potential to be great. At the end of the day, shorter and perhaps less
fullling than we had hoped, we need the comfort of service as we like muster
the will to counter our fears. In the time that is neither morning nor night, when we
bask in the warmth of day that is slowly ebbing, we need the contemplative service of
, the quick turn around the elds in conversation with the Divine.
knew the secret of and chose to plead his case precisely then:
recited in the time that is neither morning nor night, neither unbridled hope nor bitter
disappointment, dependent on the resolve to embrace spirituality that denes the Torah
These sichos are published by students of Rav Ozer Glickman shlit"a. We can be reached at
Come hear Rav Glickman on the Road
Scholar in Residence

December 11-12, 2009
Young Israel of North Woodmere
Rabbi Yehuda Septimus
Ms. Rebecca Goldberg, Community Initiatives, YU's Center for the Jewish Future
rebecca. 212-960-5400 ext. 6350
p. 21
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Author: Rabbi Ozer Glickman
Title: In Praise of Tefillas Minchah
Vayetze Yaakov mi-Beer Shava vayelech Charanah. (28:10)
Fearing his brother Esavs homicidal threats, Yaakov flees his parental home in search of safety and in hope
of securing his future. The actual description of Yaakovs departure, however, seems verbose, as we are told,
And Yaakov departed from Beer Sheva and went to Charan. Rashi notes that the opening of the pasuk is
unnecessary, after all, we know where Yaakov was leaving from; why not just tell us where he was going?
Rashi cites the well know teaching of Chazal that this additional information is mentioned, not as part of a
travel log, but rather, to communicate the message that, yetzias tzaddik min ha-makom oseh roshem, when
Yaakov left his absence was felt by those who remained behind.
While this teaching is certainly a beautiful testament to the special character of Yaakov, the Keli Yakar
wonders why Chazal never make this point regarding our other forefathers. After all, Avraham and Yitzchok
also travelled quite a bit, so why is there no statement about the impact that their respective departures had on
the people?
The Keli Yakar offers two different and in fact opposite answers. His first suggestion is that there was
noting unique about Yaakovs departure; the same sense of loss occurred whenever Avraham and Yitzchok
travelled. Nevertheless Chazal highlight Yaakovs impact because it was somewhat surprising. He explains
that when Avraham and Yitzchok moved from place to the place their families and students came with them,
thus leaving no religious role models behind. Of course, given such a spiritual exodus, their absence was felt
by those who stayed.
But when Yaakov fled, his parents both great tzaddikim remained. One might have reasonably thought
that in such circumstances the impact of the departure of yet another tzaddik would be negligible. Therefore,
the Keli Yakar suggests, Chazal emphasize that Yaakovs greatness was so extraordinary that despite the
continued presence of Yitzchok and Rivka, his loss was still felt.
This understanding of Chazals insight should inspire us to ask ourselves a simple, but powerful, question: If
we were to leave a community would we be missed? In other words, have we made enough of a difference
that our absence would be noticed? For some of us the answer to this question is yes like it was for Yaakov
and we can take justifiable pride in our accomplishments.
But for others, the honest answer to this question is no, we would not be missed. In this case, rather than
being dispirited, we should recommit ourselves to the tzibbur and reconsider which areas of communal life
we can best contribute towards. No matter how thriving a neighborhood we live in, there is always more to
be done and there are ways for everyone to make a difference. Like Yaakov before us, we all have the
potential to make a lasting and unique contribution.
p. 22
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Author: Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb
Title: The Two-Fold Lesson of Yaakovs Departure
The Keli Yakar offers a second explanation, as well, and suggests that perhaps Chazal limited their
comments to Yaakov because his departure was actually the first to be noticed. He explains that in order for a
yetzias tzaddik to be oseh roshem, its not enough for there to be a tzaddik present, but there must also be
a community of sufficient spiritual sensitivity to appreciate the tzaddik. If the people dont appreciate the
tzaddik before he leaves they certainly wont notice the loss upon his departure.
Despite their obvious greatness, when Avraham and Yitzchok travelled from place to place their absence was
never felt because the people left behind werent the type who value spiritual contribution. When Yaakov left
Beer Sheva, however, his parents, Yitzchok and Rivka, remained and they were attuned to the value and
therefore the loss of Yaakov.
This second explanation of the Keli Yakar should also inspire self-reflection. We are blessed to live among
special people whose lives are focused on spiritual aspirations and who are selflessly committed to the
welfare of others. Too often we are but one step ahead of Avraham and Yitzchoks neighbors we at least
appreciate people after they have moved on. But the challenge for us is not to wait until they depart, but
rather to value them while they are in our midst. Even if we cannot reach the level of the tzaddik, we must
and can appreciate the contributions that the tzaddik makes to our community.
The sense of loss felt upon Yaakovs departure spoke volumes about both Yaakov and the people he left
behind. We too should strive to live lives of meaning that benefit those around us and, at the same time,
appreciate those people whose contributions enrich our communities.
p. 23
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Author: Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb
Title: The Two-Fold Lesson of Yaakovs Departure
Jacob's ladder is a metaphor that is used by many because of its vivid and dramatic imagery. Nevertheless its
exact message is unclear. Although Rashi clearly describes the angels ascending and descending as being the
angels of chutz la'aretz and Eretz Yisrael, there are many parts of the story which require further elaboration.
The Nesivos Shalom describes a few interesting details that appear in the psukim and in the midrashim and
then posits a very interesting message that can be gleaned from Jacob's ladder. Firstly, the Torah emphasizes
that the ladder was not only in the heavens but rooted in the ground - mutzav artzah. Why does the Torah
emphasize something that is relatively obvious and at first glance doesn't seem to have much significance?
Secondly, the midrash points out that the gimmatria of sulam is the same as that of Sinai - what is the parallel
between Jacob's ladder and Mount Sinai?
Finally, the midrash also emphasizes a parallel between the ladder and the ramp of the mizbeach (Altar) in
the midkash - in what way are they similar?
In Chassidus, according to the Nesivos Shalom, the ladder represents a tool for change in Yaakov's life that is
a metaphor for all of us. Yaakov, after rising in the holiness of his father's home and studying in the Yeshiva
of Shem and Ever, became very scared of traveling the challenges of "the real world". This was the first time
he was going to live in an atmosphere of idol worshippers and there he would have to try to raise a family
and earn a living.
This is the meaning of the midrash on vayifga bamakom - Yaakov attempted to pass but the whole world was
a brick wall in front of him. The kedusha Yaakov had achieved was comfortable in his previous environment,
but how was he to maintain that sanctity when going out into "the real world".
In response to this fear, Hashem shows Yaakov a ladder that is rooted in the ground with angels ascending
and descending to say that even when a person is involved in the earthly challenge of the material world, he
can still maintain his kedusha. The Slonimer Rebbe goes so far as to say that Hashem was telling Yaakov that
G-d wills a Jew to involve himself in the material world and in that manner he will attain holiness. This is
why the Torah emphasizes that the ladder was rooted in the ground, emphasizing that the appropriate path to
holiness actually starts with taking the corporeality of this world and channeling it towards a higher
purpose. In fact, there isn't a single part of Hashem's creation that cannot be utilized in this direction if the
proper tool is used.
The proper tool is the ladder whose gimmatria is Sinai. The experience of kabbalas HaTorah and the halachic
system received at Sinai are there to generate holiness from every part of the material world. That system is
rooted in the ground but reaches the heavens as well. At the same time, it is a system that demands self-
sacrifice as represented by the mizbeach. How else can it be insured that the participation in all parts of the
material world be an expression of holiness and not hedonism?
Often an individual who strives for growth in Torah encounters a fissure between the clarity and spiritual
security of the Beis HaMidrash and the hedonistic culture that exists outside. When faced with that challenge,
the beautiful metaphor of Jacob's ladder and all its import as described in chassidus can be a very helpful
starting point.
p. 24
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Author: Rabbi Chaim Eisenstein
Title: Jacob's Ladder
42 derech haTeva
Kati e e. li ebl i ng
l A v A n S r e A l P e r S o n A l i T y
he infamous Lavan, brother of Rivka Imenu, is known
to all as an evil individual through both the Biblical
narrative as well as the commentaries. What is not
discussed, however, is how we may categorize Lavans
behavior in light of the current classifcation of personality
disorders. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric
Association, provided standardized criteria for the classifcation of
psychological disorders. The category of personality disorders was
divided into three clusters: Aodd or eccentric, BB dramatic,
emotional, or erratic, and Canxious or fearful. Within cluster B,
lies Antisocial Personality Disorder, one that is characterized by a
pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of
others [1]. It seems plausible that Lavan can be classifed as having
had Antisocial Personality Disorder.
Dr. Robert Hare, a criminal psychologist, described individu-
als with antisocial personality disorder as social predators who
charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life,
leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and
empty wallets. Completely lacking in conscience and empathy,
they selfshly take what they want and do as they please, violat-
ing social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of
guilt or regret. Included in this constellation is pathological ly-
ing, superfcial charm, grandiose sense of self-worth, need for
stimulation, and lack of remorse. Antisocial Personality Disorder
was formerly referred to as sociopathy or psychopathy. The latest
DSM (DSM-IV-TR) criteria for antisocial personality disorder fo-
cused more on observable behaviors, rather than on psychopathic
personality traits [1].
At the onset, Lavan is revealed to have been a greedy person
in parshat Chayei Sarah. When Eliezer came to Lavans family
to ask the father, Betuel, if he can take Rivka, Lavans sister, as a
bride for Yitzchak, Lavan ran out to greet him. Rashi explained
that Lavan impulsively ran only because he saw Rivka with a nose
ring and bracelets and realized that Eliezer was a wealthy man
(Breishit 24:29).

In parshat Vayeitzei, Rashi explained that Lavan re-
membered Eliezer, the servant of Avraham, coming with riches
to see Rivka and surmised that Yaakov, Avrahams grandson,
must have come with even more. When he hugged Yaakov to
welcome him, Lavans true intention was to determine how flled
Yaakovs pockets were with money (Breishit 29:13). Upon fnding
the pockets empty, Lavan kissed Yaakov to see if he had pearls in
his mouth. Much to his dismay, Lavan found nothing and subse-
quently invited him into his house for no reason other than you
are my bone and my fesh (Breishit 29:14). The Midrash in Breishit
Rabbah (70:19) explained that Lavans invitation to Yaakov was
meant for only a month, and during this time, he required Yaakov
to tend to his focks at half the going wage [3].

Realizing that Lavan was a cheater, Yaakov was very specifc
in his request for Rachels hand in marriage (Breishit 29:18): For
Rachel, your daughter, the younger one. Rashi explained that
Yaakov expressed his request in such detail so that Lavan would
not give him a random Rachel from the marketplace or change
Leahs name to Rachel. Yaakov went so far as to create special
signs with Rachel with which he could identify her. Despite all of
this, Lavan still deceived Yaakov and, instead, clandestinely gave
him Leah, to whom Rachel had given the identifers in order to
prevent her sisters embarrassment (Rashi in Breishit 29:25). La-
van gave Zilpah to Leah as a maidservant for a wedding present
to further mislead Yaakov. Rashi (Breishit 30:10) pointed out that
Zilpah was the younger of the two maidservants, corresponding
to the younger daughter, Rachel. The Avnei Shoham mentioned
that Lavan even cheated Zilpah by not indicating to whom she
was being given [2].
Lavan also behaved deviously with the people of Charan. It
was acknowledged by all that their waters were blessed because
of the righteous Yaakovs presence, since prior to his arrival, wa-
it seems as if lavan regretted his previous
intent to harm his family. his subsequent
behavior, however, indicated that this
remorse was not lasting and, perhaps,
never even real.
p. 25
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Author: Katie E. Liebling
Title: Lavans Real Personality
derech haTeva 43
ter was sparse. In manipulating the townspeople to participate in
Yaakovs deception, Lavan convinced them that switching Leah
for Rachel would cause Yaakov to remain in their land another
seven years while working for Rachel. As a result, the townspeople
would continue to be blessed with water. Lavan forced the people
to give him securities that he used to buy wine, oil, and food. He
was, therefore, known as Lavan HaArami, (ramai), meaning La-
van the deceiver (Breishit Rabah 70:19) [3]. Moreover, Oznayim
LaTorah explained that Lavan justifed the switch of his daughters
with the towns custom of not giving the younger to be wed be-
fore the older [2].
The Abarbanel commented that Lavan publicized Yaakovs
wedding to encourage the townspeoples participation in the cel-
ebration and, thereby, to cause Yaakov to be ashamed to divorce
Leah once she was revealed to him. Lavan did not make a feast for
Rachels marriage to Yaakov, explains the Torah Temimah, because
there was no longer a need to confuse him [2]. Perhaps an addi-
tional motive of Lavan in making the feast for Leah was to charm
the masses and ingratiate himself in their eyes.
The Chofetz Chaim explained that Lavan attempted to justify
his machinations by claiming that he had to give Leah to Yaakov
frst in order to keep his promise. Because of the custom of the
land, Lavan could only give Rachel to Yaakov by marrying off
Leah frst. Lavan said that by asking for the younger sister frst,
Yaakov, in fact, implied the older as well. Moreover, Lavan be-
haved as if he were doing Yaakov a favor by giving him Rachel
right away and allowing him to work for her on credit [2].
Lavan continued to swindle Yaakov throughout his tenure.
When Yaakov worked additional years for Lavan to make a live-
lihood, he agreed to take the speckled, dappled, and brownish
lambs, sheep, and goats. Yet, Rashi (Breishit 31:7) noted that Lavan
changed his mind and the terms of the agreement 100 times!
Lavans own daughters were not immune to their fathers
criminality. When Hashem told Yaakov that it was time to return
to his birthplace, Leah and Rachel readily accepted. They re-
sponded by saying (Breishit 31:15), Are we not considered to him
as strangers? We learn from Rashi that Lavan did not even treat
them like daughters. He did not provide a dowry for them at the
time of marriage and tried to withhold funds by cheating Yaakov.
(Breishit 31:15). Lavan even cheated his own daughters!
When Lavan learned that Yaakov departed with his family,
he immediately pursued them, caught up with them, and said,
There is power to my hand to do you harm (Breishit 31:29). By
using the word you in the plural, he not only wanted to do evil
to Yaakov but even to his daughters and grandchildren as well.
It was only because Hashem warned him not to say to Yaakov
good or bad (Breishit 31:24) that Lavan did not actually destroy
his own family [2].
After this incident, Lavan decided to make a covenant with
Yaakov and said, The daughters are my daughters, the children
are my children What could I do to them this day? (Breishit 31:
43). It seems as if Lavan regretted his previous intent to harm
his family. His subsequent behavior, however, indicated that this
remorse was not lasting and, perhaps, never even real.
Targum Yonatan in Bamidbar (22:5) and Yalkut Shimoni in Sh-
emot (168) noted that Lavan and the wicked Bilaam were one and
the same.
Lavan was called Bilaam because he wanted to devour,
livloah, Bnei Yisrael (Targum Yonatan in Bamidbar 22:5). The Zohar
(1:133b), however, says that Lavan was Bilaams grandfather, and
the Gemara in Sanhedrin 105a states that Lavan was Bilaams fa-
ther. In either case, Bilaam would be fulflling Lavans mission
as his descendant. When Pharaoh said, Let us deal wisely with
them (Shemot 1:10), referring to his plan to control the Jewish
people, the Gemara (Sota 11a) described how Bilaam spoke up and
advised Pharaoh to slay them. The Midrash Aggadah in Bamidbar
(22:21) commented that Yaakov foresaw that Bilaam would be
part of Pharaohs council. As a bribe, Yaakov, therefore, gave the
talking donkey that Hashem created on the sixth day of creation
to Lavan. In exchange for this, Lavan was expected to withhold
evil advice against the Jewish people. However, Bilaam suggested
that Bnei Yisrael should make bricks (Midrash Aggadah in Bamidbar
22:21), perpetually remain in bondage (Zohar 3:212a), and that
their babies be thrown into the Nile (Yalkut Shimoni in Shemot 168).
He also recommended to Pharaoh that he bathe in Jewish blood
to heal his leprosy (Midrash Hagadol, Shemot 2:23) and that Moshe
be killed for removing Pharaohs crown and placing it on his own
head (Yalkut Shimoni in Shemot 166) [3].
When Balak sent offcers to hire Bilaam to curse Bnei Yisrael,
he frst asked Hashems permission, but Hashem denied this re-
quest (Bamidbar 22:12). The Midrash Shocher Tov (1:22) commented
that Bilaam thought that it was because he, himself, was such a
righteous individual that Hashem did not wish to trouble him [3].
Additionally, Bilaam said to the offcers, Hashem refuses to al-
low me to go with you (Bamidbar 22:13). Rashi (Bamidbar 22:13)
explained that Bilaam was too haughty to admit that he was un-
Assuming that Lavan was approximately 10 years old when Rivka married
Yitzchak and and knowing that Lavan/Bilaam was killed in the 40
fnal year of Bnei Yisraels sojourn in the desert, Lavan would have lived
approximately 417 years. This is plausible given that there were people of
that era who lived for 500-600 years.
p. 26
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Author: Katie E. Liebling
Title: Lavans Real Personality
44 derech haTeva
der Hashems authority and, instead, implied that he could not
go with the lowly offcers that had been sent and demanded
greater. Such behavior clearly demonstrated Bilaams/Lavans
grandiose sense of self-worth.
When Hashem let Bilaam go with Balaks offcers and com-
manded Bilaam to do what He said, Bilaam became so excited
that he saddled his own donkey. Rashi (Bamidbar 22:21) explained
that Bilaam himself impulsively saddled his own donkey instead
of having his servants because his intense hatred disrupted the
normal progression of things. In contrast, Avraham, himself sad-
dled his own donkey out of his love for Hashem and wanting to
do His Will by preparing Yitzchak for the akeidah (Rashi, Breishit
22:3). While impulsivity is a state of being, Avraham used it for
the good and Bilaam used it for evil. Hashem, therefore, called
Bilaam a rasha (Rashi, Bamidbar 22:21). This impulsivity fulflls
one of the criteria for antisocial personality disorder.
Although Bilaam was a prophet, his great powers came from
his mastery of sorcery and black magic. This is why he is called,
Bilaam Hakosem, Bilaam the Sorcerer (Ramban in Bamidbar
22:31). Illusion is a major contributor to the impure forces be-
hind sorcery [4]. The sorcerer can make someone believe that he
is seeing an event which is really not happening by incorporat-
ing trickery, slyness and confusion. The synthesized identity of
prophet and sorcerer in and of itself generates confusion. When
Pinchas and Bnei Yisrael killed Bilaam, Bnei Yisrael were worried
saying, What have we done?! We have slain a prophet of whom it
is written, Who knows the knowledge of the Most High (Bam-
idbar 24:16). However, a heavenly voice descended and said, You
have slain a sorcerer, not a prophet (Otzar Hamidrashim 168) [3].
This deceitfulness fulflls another criterion for the diagnosis of
antisocial personality disorder.
Antisocial personality disorder does not affect the ability to
reason. There is no evidence of brain impairment as those who
have this disorder score normally on neuropsychological testing.
Early theories suggested that psychopaths had abnormally low
levels of cerebral cortical arousal in their brains and a higher fear
threshold. They seek stimulation, intrigue and adventure without
concern for consequences. For example, they steal without fear
of being caught. It is thought that the reason for the lack of anxi-
ety in committing antisocial behavior is due to an imbalance of
the Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS) and the reward system.
The BIS, thought to be located in the septohippocampal system
involving the noradrenergic and serotonergic neurotransmitter
systems, is responsible for ones ability to stop or slow down an
action when faced with impending punishment or danger. The
BIS is also associated with the fght or fight system, which helps
one decide to fght against or fee from an impending danger. The
reward system, located in the mesolimbic area of the brain and in-
volves the dopaminergic neurotransmitter system, is responsible
for ones approach to positive rewards. When there is an imbal-
ance of the BIS and the reward system, the fear initiated by the
BIS system is superseded by the positive feelings associated with
the reward system. This may explain the lack of anxiety that the
psychopath experiences when committing antisocial acts [1].
Whether generically called a psychopath or formally con-
sidered to have antisocial social personality disorder, Lavan is by
all standards a wicked individual. Rashi (Breishit 24:50) explicitly
called Lavan a rasha; Concerning Eliezers request to immediately
bring Rivka to Yitzchak, Lavan, not waiting for his father to re-
spond, impulsively jumped to answer Eliezer. Pirkei Avot (5:22)
related the three characteristics of the disciples of Bilaam: An
evil eye, a haughty spirit, and a lusting soul [3]. These are the
characteristics of one who has antisocial personality disorder.
When Lavan fnally spoke sweetly to Yaakov saying, I would
have sent you out joyfully and with song, with drum and harp,
(Breishit 31:27) Yaakov was terrifed, thinking that he must have
sinned in that tumah, impurity, and kedusha, sanctity, cannot dwell
side by side [2]. A person like Lavan has full reasoning capability
and can restrain himself from performing criminal acts. Perhaps,
Hashem specifcally related so much of Lavans evil to teach us
that although one may be tested with great desire for money, a
high threshold for experiencing fear, and a cunning mind, he/she
is still not permitted to succumb. Every person is presented with
different tests and challenges. However, it is ones reactions and
attitudes to these challenges that defne the essence of the indi-
vidual [5]. The Torah teaches us that although Lavan might have
had such challenges, his reactions and intentions to them were all
negative, thereby defning him as a rasha from whom to learn how
not to behave.
DSM features of antisocial personality disorder include a
person at least 18 years of age, failure to conform to social norms,
deceitfulness including use of aliases, impulsivity, aggressiveness,
every person is presented with different
tests and challenges. however, it is ones
reactions and attitudes to these challenges
that defne the essence of the individual.
p. 27
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Title: Lavans Real Personality
derech haTeva 45
[1] Durand, M. V. and Barlow, D. H. 2010. Essentials of Abnormal Psychology, ffth edition. Wadsworth, Belmont, CA.
[2] Nachshoni, Y. 1991. Studies in The Weekly Parashah, Bereishis. Mesorah Publications, Ltd., Brooklyn, NY.
[3] Chasidah, Y. (2000). Ecyclopedia of Biblical Personalities: Anthologized from the Talmud, Midrash, and Rabbinic Writings, 5th impression. Mesorah
Publications, Ltd. Brooklyn, NY.
[4] Aboud, Rabbi E. H. (2010). The Supernatural Revealed. Community. Vol. 10: 60-63.
[5] Shafer, Rabbi B. T. 2010. The Shmuz on Life book: Stop Surviving and Start Living. SYS Marketing Inc., Monsey, NY.
I wish to thank Rav Mordechai Tendler, Shlita, for his review of this article and genuine concern. I thank my parents for their unconditional support and
assistance. Last, but by no means least, I extend warmest appreciation to Dr. Harvey Babich for his continual guidance and sincere kindness.
reckless disregard for the safety of others, consistent irresponsi-
bility for payment, and lack of remorse for harming others [1]. It
is fair to conclude that Lavan could be diagnosed with antisocial
personality disorder. According to halachic standards, however,
such a diagnosis does not preclude accountability for actions.
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After awakening from his dream about the ladder and having just received promises of blessing and
protection from Hashem, Yaakov vows to give Maaser (Tithe) from all that Hashem will grant him. (Bereshis
Although the Torah does not devote much text to the Avos' (Patriarchs) fulfillment of mitzvos, with the
exception of Bris Milah, it is noteworthy that the Torah specifies that Avrohom and Yitzchak also gave
Maaser, according to the interpretations of Chazal and the Meforshim (Commentators). And he (Avrohom)
gave him (Malki-Tzedek) Maaser from everything. (ibid. 14:20; v. Rashi) And Yitzchak sowed in that land
and was granted that year a bounty of one hundred measures, and Hashem blessed him. (26:12). Chazal
comment on this verse that Yitzchak measured the bounty in order to separate Maaser therefrom. (Rashi
ibid., from Bereshis Rabbah)
What is it about Maaser such that it is recorded that the Avos all performed this specific mitzvah?
From the onset of the generations of idolatry until the emergence of Avrohom Avinu, the world was in a state
of spiritual bifurcation; Hashem's existence and omnipotence were largely unknown to man during this
period - only in the heavens was Hashem known. As Rashi explains (ibid. 24:7), invoking Bereshis Rabbah
and the Sifri: Avrohom asked Eliezer to swear in the name of the God of Heaven and Earth (ibid. v. 3), yet in
that same discussion with Eliezer, Avrohom (ibid. v. 7) related that the God of Heaven (omitting mention of
"and Earth") took him forth from his birthplace, because, as Avrohom elaborated, "Now He is God of
Heaven and Earth, as I have made people aware of Him, but when He took me forth from my father's home,
He was God of Heaven (only, and not of Earth), as the world's inhabitants did not know Him."
The function of the Avos was to reconnect the world to Hashem, teaching and demonstrating to humanity
that Hashem controls the world and provides all that is in it; the notion of a world existing without God and
distant from Him was anathema to the Avos. Through the work of the Avos, awareness of God and His
involvement with the world were again common concepts among humankind.
Maaser embodies this message, as it declares that food, which comes from the ground and is the produce of
human toil, in reality comes from Hashem, as does everything in the world. By separating Maaser, one
reunites the physical world with the spiritual world and proclaims Hashem's omnipotence and involvement
with all that is created and transpires in the material, human realm.
This is why Maaser stands out as the one mitzvah which our Mesorah (Tradition) specifically records that
Avrohom, Yitzchak and Yaakov all performed, as it embodies the mission of the Avos.
Why did Yaakov commit to give Maaser right after he had experienced his dream of the ladder and had
received Hashem's promises and berachos? We are told about Avrohom and Yitzchak actually giving Maaser
p. 29
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Author: Rabbi Avraham Gordimer
Title: Parshas Vayeitzei - Yaakov's Tithe
and not merely committing to do so; why is it different with Yaakov, that the Torah records his commitment
to give Maaser even before he actually gave it?
The juncture at which Yaakov found himself at that point in his life was one of immense challenge. In
addition to Yaakov lacking any possessions (v. Rashi, from Bereshis Rabbah and Sefer Ha-Yashar, on 29:11)
and not being with family or having a home, forced to flee alone on the road to a strange land and to sleep
outdoors, there is another entire dimension to Yaakov's predicament. Yaakov had viewed himself as the next
in line to build the Jewish nation, in its land; however, here was Yaakov, fleeing from that land and running
for his safety, with no prospects for fulfillment of his life mission. Yaakov's aspirations to succeed Yitzchak
and serve as the next of the Avos to develop the nation seemed to have been utterly ruined, and the planned
cultivation of a future K'lal Yisroel in Eretz Yisroel seemed lost. Everything was unraveling and falling apart,
it appeared, and the chain of the Avos and the creation and development of Klal Yisroel looked like it was
not to continue. Imagine a wealthy and successful man on his way to his wedding, with plans and dreams of
establishing a family and a home. Suddenly, before he approaches the wedding hall, this man's wealth and all
of his possessions are stripped from him, his bride cancels the wedding, and the man's home is foreclosed,
leaving him homeless. All aspirations for the future are instantly rendered naught, leaving behind a destitute
individual with absolutely nothing.
This is where Yaakov's dream and Hashem's berachos and promises to Yaakov come into the scene. Yaakov
had felt that his expulsion from his home, severance from his family and utter impoverishment constituted a
complete derailment of his path and the total frustration of the projected existence of K'lal Yisroel. However,
Hashem advised Yaakov that this was not at all the case, but that on the contrary, Yaakov was assuredly very
much on the path to create K'lal Yisroel and build a holy nation in its homeland. The ladder of malachim
(angels) in Yaakov's vision traced Yaakov's travels from his home toward exile, stretching all the way from
Beer Sheva to Beis-El (Rashi on 28:17, from Bereshis Rabbah), where Yaakov had spent the night outdoors
sleeping on a rock. This indicated that Yaakov was still on a sacred mission and was not off track; the
malachim of God were with Yaakov, tracing his path and ever guiding his trek. In His communication to
Yaakov immediately after the vision of the ladder, Hashem told Yaakov, "The land upon which you lie shall
I give to you and your progeny. And your progeny shall be as numerous as the dust of the earth, and you
shall spread forth to the west, east, north and south, and all peoples of the earth shall be blessed by you and
your descendants..." (28:13-14) These berachos, which are almost identical to those given to Avrohom and
Yitzchak, indicated to Yaakov that he was indeed continuing the chain of the Avos, despite his exile and
How did Yaakov respond to Hashem's assurances? Mimicking Avrohom and Yitzchak, and as is appropriate
for one who experiences the Shechinah, Yaakov offered a sacrifice. He then committed himself to Hashem
and to give Maaser from all future possessions. By concluding his communication with Hashem by pledging
to give Maaser, Yaakov linked himself back to Avrohom and Yitzchak, indicating his readiness to
promulgate the message of Maaser and to continue the mission of the Avos. Yaakov's commitment to
Maaser, the mitzvah of the Avos and the encapsulation of their mandate to bring awareness of God's
Presence and omnipotence into the physical world, represented his installation as the next of the Avos, upon
that fateful night at Beis-El.
This is precisely why Yaakov's promise to give Maaser rather than his actual giving of it is recorded with
great significance, as this promise constituted Yaakovs assumption of his role and his investiture as the next
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Author: Rabbi Avraham Gordimer
Title: Parshas Vayeitzei - Yaakov's Tithe
of the Avos, after having despaired that the Patriarchal period and the prospects of K'lal Yisroel had ended.
By accepting upon himself to henceforth give Maaser, which proclaims Hashem's mastery over and
involvement with the physical world, Yaakov accepted upon himself the mitzvah which represented the life
mission and spiritual identity of the Avos, thereby himself becoming the next link in the Avos' chain.
Whereas Yaakov had felt that K'lal Yisroel would not emerge and that the mission of his father and
grandfather had been frustrated and fallen apart, Hashem informed him that quite the opposite was the case,
for it was necessary for K'lal Yisroel to develop through Yaakov's exile and tribulations, as evidenced by
Yaakov's return to Eretz Yisroel with a sizable family and great wealth, culminating with his subsequent
sacrifice at Beis-El. May this serve as a lesson to us not to view unexpected events as derailments of our
mission; rather, such events, despite our inability to perceive their ultimate significance, are often the
necessary means and the prerequisite for realizing the goals that Hashem has set for us.
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Author: Rabbi Avraham Gordimer
Title: Parshas Vayeitzei - Yaakov's Tithe
" "
It is interesting that in last weeks parsha, Rivka instructs Yaakov to flee to Charan,
, while here the Torah describes Yaakovs journey as simply , he went to
Charan. Furthermore, this weeks Haftarah also refers to Yaakovs journey as one of fleeing.
What is the basis for this discrepancy?
The Sfas Emes (year 5661) and Rav Matityahu Salamon (Sefer Matnas Chaim) both suggest that
perhaps Yaakovs mentality was that of someone who was going, without the pressure of feeling
chased and fleeing from an enemy. True, Esav indeed wanted to kill Yaakov, and Rivka
accurately describes the reality of Yaakovs journey as one of running away from Esav.
Nevertheless, Yaakov himself had a tremendous level of Bitachon in Hashem, and felt that this
was where Hashem wanted him to be; Esav was only the messenger to point him in the right
direction. This trait, says the Sfas Emes, is why Yaakov was called Ish Tam, meaning that he
accepted everything that happened to him with Temimus, wholeheartedness, as being part of
Hashems plan for him. He didnt let Esavs murderous intentions faze him, but rather practiced
the trait of Hishtavus, responding equally to compliments and antagonism from others, as
described in Chovos HaLevavos. Therefore, Yaakov himself didnt perceive his journey as
fleeing from Esav, but rather of a Divine beckoning towards an unknown future. This allowed
him to travel calmly and not feel as if he was running away.

The Sfas Emes suggests that this is the meaning of the Medrash (Bereshis Rabbah, opening piece
to our parsha) that the pasuk in Mishlei of , then you will go in security on
your way, refers to Yaakov, because it says . On the surface it is difficult to understand
how this pasuk supports the contention that Yaakov went with security and faith. However, in
light of the above explanation, it is perfectly clear how this shows Yaakovs faith: the fact that he
was not fleeing, but rather simply going where he was supposed to go. This, in turn, allowed
Yaakov to avoid feeling the pressure and fear normally associated with someone running for his
We can learn a tremendous lesson from the Sfas Emes description of Yaakov Avinu. A person
who undergoes trials and tribulations often may ask why G-d is doing this to him. However, the
proper response is that of Yaakov, who understood that it was part of the Divine plan and that
this was his job in life at this particular stage, even if he didnt understand why. Furthermore,
this feeling of pure faith can help us, as it did Yaakov, to retain composure in the face of
adversity and not let our fears control us. We should all merit to develop the trust in Hashem of
Yaakov Avinu and in that merit be saved from all of our enemies.

See Dr. Eliezer Schnalls essay in Mitoch HaOhel for Haftarot where he discusses some of these sources
and their psychological implications for whether religion has a calming influence on people suffering or
exacerbates their difficulties.
p. 32
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Author: Rabbi Eli Ozarowski
Title: Yaakov's journey to Charan: a lesson in Bitachon
In this week's parsha, we read about Yaakov Avinu leaving his parents' home. Until now, Yaakov had been
sitting peacefully in the tents of Torah under the protection of his parents, and now journeys away to an
unknown future.
He has a dream in which he sees a ladder upon which Hashem is standing. And Hashem talks to him.
I am Hashem, Elokei Avraham your father, and Elokei Yitzchak. I will give to you and your descendants the
land upon which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth. You shall spread out to
the west, to the east, to the north, and to the south. All the families on earth will be blessed through you and
your descendants. I am with you. I will protect you wherever you go and bring you back to this soil. I will
not turn aside from you until I have fully kept this promise to you.
The commentators point out that this promise is not only to Yaakov, but rather to all his descendants as well.
The Jewish people throughout the generations have wandered away from home carrying with them the same
promise that Yaakov was given. "I will protect you wherever you go and bring you back to this soil".
What I find striking is that the first bracha of the tefillat shmone esreh (amida) very much mirrors this
promise to Yaakov.
We start the Shmone Esreh with the words Baruch ata Hashem,Elokeinu v'Elokei avoteinu, Elokei Avraham,
Elokei Yitzchak similar to Hashem's statementto Yaakov I am Hashem, Elokei Avraham your father, and
Elokei Yitzchak
We conclude the bracha stating that Hashem will bring geula to their descendants - . umaivi goel livnei
venaihem lema'an shmo b'ahava. - just as Hashem promised Yaakov I will protect you wherever you go and
bring you back to this soil. There are other parallels as well.
In our tefillot every day we declare that we understand our position in history as the continuation of our
forefathers - both physically and spiritually. We are a continuation of their mission in this world. This is
definitely something worth contemplating before we begin our shmone esreh. We are not only approaching
Hashem because he runs the world and we "need" Him, but even more we are approaching Hashem with this
realization and pride that we have the special merit to be part of His people and that we desire to live up to
this honorable status.
p. 33
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Author: Rabbi Yoel Yehoshua
Title: Hashem's Promise to Yaakov - for all Generations
Dvarim Hayotzim Min Halev

Volume XIII - Issue 4

The DRS Weekly Torah Publication










Tzadik in Business
By David Lauer, 11th Grade
DR3\ D3"
6 KISLEV, 5772
DECEMBER 2, 2011

All Zmanim are calculated by for
Woodmere, NY (11598)
Candle Lighting: 4:10 pm
Latest : 9:22 am
Ends: 5:14 pm
n this weeks Parasha, Yaakov left his home and the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever, and went to work as a
shepherd in the house of his evil uncle Lavan. Until then, he was involved in purely spiritual pursuits,
but after this momentous event, he began to involve himself with the most physical of tasks. Amazingly,
it was after he made this move to the overly materialistic Charan (which is related to the Hebrew word for
wrath) that he became wealthy and great, married, and laid the foundation of the Jewish nation through hav-
ing the 12 Shevatim.
This raises the question: Why did Yaakov experience his greatest success in a low environment such
as Charan? In addition, why did the foundation of the Jewish people have to be established in such a place?
The Likutei Sichot answers that the Mitzvot of the Torah are performed with physical objects. For ex-
(Continued on page 2)
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Material Origins
By Benny Aivazi, 11th Grade
" The man (Yaakov) became exceedingly prosperous..." (30:43)
av Pam asks a great question on this Pasuk, "Why was Yaakov blessed
with such great wealth?" The Rambam answers, "The same way an em-
ployee is obligated not to cheat his impoverished worker or to hold back
his wages, so too is the worker obligated not to cheat his employer by wasting
time from work here and there. He must be exceedingly careful to work his full
allotted time... and must labor with all his energy, as we find that Yaakov the
Tzaddik said to his wives, 'now you have known that I served your father with
all my might.' Due to his impeccable honesty he received his reward even in this
world as it says, 'The man became exceedingly prosperous.'"
The Rambam calls Yaakov a Tzaddik for one reason only: he was careful
in his business dealings. Now, looking at this week's Parsha, we see that Lavan
wasn't the most 'kosher' person. He was an idol-worshiper, had no respect for
Yaakov, and cheated him hundreds of times. If anything, one would think that
Yaakov had all the reason in the world to be a little "lenient" in his work effort.
Perhaps he could take a ram or sheep from the flock and use it to feed himself
(Continued on page 5)
Jaffa Institute

AT 9:00AM
169-07 JEWEL AVE
p. 34
Download thousands of shiurim and articles for free at the Marcos and Adina Katz is a project of Yeshiva University's Center for the Jewish Future
Author: HALB DRS
Title: Dvarim HaYotzim Min HaLev - VaYetze

Empty Honor
By Alex Selesny,
11th Grade


The Medrash Rabbah says on this Passuk:
There is no honor except for [that accrued by] silver
and gold. Yet, in Shemos Rabbah, it says, There is no
honor except for [that accrued by] Torah, as the passuk
says, the wise inherit honor. The Vilna Gaon Asked:
is it Torah that brings honor, or is it a persons wealth
that brings honor?
The answer, he said, lies in the spelling of the
word Kavod. Whenever the word kavod is spelled
without a Vav, we apply the statement of There is no
honor except for [that accrued by] silver and gold.
That type of honor is superficial and false. However,
when the word Kavod is spelled with a Vav, we apply
the statement of There is no honor except for [that ac-
crued by] Torah. That honor which comes from the
Torah is genuine and full.
Good Shabbos.
Adapted from A Shabbos Vort
ample, Tefilin is made from leather, Tzitzit from wool
or cotton, and Sukkot from wood and branches. This
leads into the fact that Hashem wants us, as Jews, to
utilize these physical objects for the will of Hashem,
and thus, establish a dwelling place for Hashem in
this world. This idea is shown in the establishment of
the Jews specifically in Charan, where Yaakov first
began using the material aspects of this world to cre-
ate a dwelling place for Hashem, and in doing so,
fulfilling His will. It was specifically in Lavans house
that the framework was laid for the Jewish Nation.
Shabbat Shalom.
(Benny AivaziContinued from page 1)
Torah Teasers
By Rabbi Moshe Erlbaum

1. In what context is a single stone mentioned? (3
2. a) In what context are a harp and drum mentioned?
b) Where else in the Torah are a harp and drum
3. a) In what context are the four directions north,
south, east and west mentioned? b) Where else in
are the four directions mentioned?
4. a) Who makes a " ", a party? b) Where else in
does someone make a " " (4 times)?
5. Aside from the seven years that worked for
and , where else is the number seven
6. Which two consecutive state that two
different people stole?
. 1 set the stone that he rested on as a , a
monument. rolled off the stone which rested on
top of the well. At the end of the , takes a
stone and sets up a monument as a treaty between
himself and .
2. a) When chases and catches him, he claims
that had he known wished to leave, he would
have sent away with songs and musical
instruments including the drum and harp. b) In
, used a drum and harp to praise Hashem
after the splitting of the sea.
3. a) Hashem promised that his children would
be spread out in all four directions of the earth. b)
In , Hashem tells to look in the
four directions, since his children would inherit the
entire land [which is everywhere looked].
4. a) made a " party at the wedding of
and b)In made a " " for the
angels and made a " " when was
weaned. In Toldos, Yitzchak and Avimelech made
a In , a " " is made for the
birthday of .
5. After ran away from Lavan caught up
to him after seven days.
6. In the Torah states that stole the
idols of her father. In the next the Torah states
that stole the heart of when ran away.
p. 35
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Author: HALB DRS
Title: Dvarim HaYotzim Min HaLev - VaYetze
Dvarim Hayotzim Min Halev 3

Yaakov Avinu
dreamt of a ladder that was
based on earth, with its top
reaching up to Heaven. An-
gels of G-d were ascending
and descending the ladder.
The Talmud [Chulin 91]
comments on the Angels'
actions: They would ascend to examine the image of
Yaakov, which was present beneath the Divine Throne
and then they would descend to examine the image of
the real-life Yaakov below.
What is the meaning of this imagery? Rabbi
Soloveitchik offers a beautiful insight into this Talmud-
ic passage. The Angels were amazed at the similarity of
the images. The earthly Yaakov's image was precisely
the same as the Heavenly image of Yaakov. This was a
tremendous accomplishment. There was an image in
Heaven of who the Patriarch Yaakov was supposed to
be. G-d perceived Yaakov's spiritual potential and creat-
ed an image under his Heavenly Throne to represent
that potential. Yaakov achieved on this earth exactly
what had been expected of him in Heaven. This was
such a noteworthy accomplishment that it stirred the
interest of the legions of Angels who came to inspect
this amazing phenomenon for themselves.
Rav Soloveitchik added that the same concept
holds true for all of us. When G-d created each of us, he
gave us certain gifts and talents and had
something in mind for us in terms of how
we should use those gifts and talents. Each
of us has a Heavenly image. Each of us
also has an earthly image of what we
actually look like.
We must strive
throughout our lives to try
to ensure that the two imag-
es match up as precisely as
Finally, Rav Solove-
itchik pointed out that An-
gels are not the only ones
who look at the images of
what is up above and compare them with what is here
on earth. People have a strong sense of what the image
of a Torah-observant Jew looks like in Heaven, in the
ideal. Wherever religious Jews go, people are compar-
ing them with what they intuitively know to be the im-
age of a religious Jew up in Heaven.
Everyone has an idea of what a Torah-observant
Jew is supposed to be like, how he is supposed to act in
business, how he is supposed to talk, and what kind of
lifestyle he is supposed to lead. People are constantly
holding up the Earthly image to the Heavenly image and
comparing them. Unfortunately, not everyone matches
up with the Heavenly image as well as our Patriarch
Yaakov matched his Heavenly image. Unfortunately,
the "real-life image" of the so-called religious Jew is
often not what it is really supposed to be, as indicated in
Heaven. The religious community must be especially
sensitive to this.
Our life's challenge is to become like Yaakov, to
ensure that our two images match precisely.

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

Comparing The Image In Heaven To The Im-
age On Earth:
From the treasures of the Rav
from the Shiurim of HaRav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik
Weekly D'vrei Torah on the Parsha
DH is on
and Search DRS
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Author: HALB DRS
Title: Dvarim HaYotzim Min HaLev - VaYetze

This weeks Parsha, Parshat Vayeitzei, states that Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, Surely Hashem is
in this place and I did not know! (28:16) Why must Yaakov mention this seemingly insignificant fact? Rashi ex-
plains that Yaakovs intent was: Had I known that Hashem was here, I would not have slept in such a holy place.
This is hard to understand, for the Gemara Chullin (daf 91b) says that Hashem made the sun set early so that Yaa-
kov would sleep in this particular spot. The Gemara teaches us further that the stones that Yaakov had placed
around his head had joined miraculously, merging into one large unified stone. The Passuk tells us that it was in
this sleep that Yaakov received a prophecy from Hashem. There are all these miraculous circumstances, and still
Yaakov does not think it was the desire of Hashem that he should have slept there? Why would Yaakov exclaim
that If I would have known of Hashems presence, I wouldnt have slept there?
Rav Moshe Feinstein ztl expounds on the real manner of Yaakovs words. Yaakov was mistaken in his
assumption that one is only able to serve Hashem through being involved in spiritual pursuits such as Tefilah and
Torah study; mundane matters such as eating and sleeping would not, however, be considered true Avoda to Ha-
shem, since they are not themselves Mitzvos.
By performing these tremendous miracles and causing Yaakov to sleep (a seemingly physical matter, a pur-
suit that allows one to function better physically) in this location, Hashem sought to teach Yaakov that this is not
the case. The Torah was given to humans knowing that we are physical beings with physical needs that need satis-
fying in order for us to continue serving Hashem. It is the will of Hashem that we should sanctify even these activi-
ties. We can consecrate these activities by viewing them as opportunities to better serve Hashem, so that these ac-
tivities will themselves be raised to the level of being the fulfillment of Hashems will.
This is what Yaakov was saying when he exclaimed, And I did not know. Before learning this lesson,
he did not know that a physical act such as sleeping could be raised up to such a holy level. Yaakov thus said that
the stone on which he rested his head should be a Beis Elokim. Yaakov desired that the stone should be a reminder
that a true Beis Elokim is not only a place to learn Torah, but a place where even the mundane acts like sleeping
and eating can be raised to high levels through doing them with the proper intentions.
The Noam Elimelech writes that when Hashem created the world, the great and awesome light of the Infi-
nite were unable to be contained in the Sephirot (Divine attributes) and so the Sephirot, compared to vessels, were
shattered. The 288 sparks of holiness were exiled and scattered throughout our physical, mundane world. This cre-
ated a state of imperfection, a state that can only be fixed through Tikun, the act of refining the physical and elevat-
ing the sparks into the spiritual. In this way, we can fix the shattered vessels, and the world will be in its complete
We should always think of our intentions while doing physical activities so we can sanctify the seemingly
impure in our everyday life.
Have a great Shabbos.
Sanctifying the
By Yehuda Fogel, 11th Grade
If you would like to review past issues of the
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Title: Dvarim HaYotzim Min HaLev - VaYetze
Dvarim Hayotzim Min Halev 5

a good idea, but I must ask you that we wait before we
check any pockets or take any action. Let us wait 20
minutes." The eyes that had turned to him with respect
now betrayed surprise. He caught the others' reaction
and calmly added, "I cannot explain just yet, but please
be patient, wait just 20 minutes."
In deference to his seniority they agreed. It was
the last thing they had expected him to say, but they
had no choice but to abide by his wishes.
The time passed with quiet conversation and
speculation as to why Rabbi Yehudah had made such
an unusual request. As the 20 minutes came to an end,
the saintly Rabbi Yehudah got up again and addressed
the now apprehensive guests. "I beg your indulgence.
Perhaps you consider this strange, maybe you even sus-
pect me of taking the coin, but please let us wait just 10
more minutes. I beg you. I will not ask for any more
The rabbis and guests were perplexed and impa-
tient. Not only was it late, but they wished to resolve
the matter. Yet, once again, because of their respect for
Rabbi Yehudah, they agreed to wait 10 more minutes.
Time passed slowly but after just a few minutes,
the door of the room swung open and in ran the waiter
wildly shouting that he had found the half-shekel
among the dishes and silverware while he was cleaning
the kitchen. Obviously the coin had been placed mo-
mentarily on the table and was swept off by mistake
with the soiled dishes and silverware. Laughter and joy
erupted, as everyone thanked the heroic waiter profuse-
ly. The Ksav Sofer was ecstatic as he beamed in relief.
In the bedlam, someone went over to Rabbi Ye-
hudah, and soon a crowd gathered around him. "How
did you know?" someone asked. "What was your rea-
son for waiting?"
Rabbi Yehudah smiled softly and said in an
apologetic voice, "My friends, it was surely not my in-
tention to reveal to you what I now must, but under the
circumstances I know you will understand." And from
his pocket he took out an authentic half-shekel coin!
After the collective gasps had subsided, he con-
tinued, "As you see, I too have a half-shekel of my
own. However, when I saw the joy that the Ksav Sofer
had in displaying his half-shekel, I didn't want to show
my own, for that might, Heaven forbid, diminish the
pleasure he had felt in possessing such a coin.
"However, once the coin was missing and the
suggestion was made that everyone empty his pockets,
my own half-shekel would have been found, and it
would have been almost impossible to try and explain
that I had one before I came here. Thus, I asked for the
delay and prayed that somehow the lost one would be
found and that the Almighty would spare me the agony
and embarrassment of trying to explain something that
would be so difficult to believe."
(Stories of GreatnessContinued from page 10)
and his family. After all, Lavan would have never noticed and had tried repeatedly to cheat Yaakov. Perhaps
Yaakov could have directed some of his energy towards following some of his personal pursuits, as opposed to
watching the flock 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Despite the many reasons he could have given himself, Yaa-
kov was as careful as ever in doing his job. And for this alone, the Torah refers to him as a tzaddik!
A G-d fearing businessman knows where his money is coming from: Hashem. In today's business society,
those who are not sharks, get eaten by those who are. Yet, those who have faith in Hashem, who understand that
He is the true provider, will place their faith in G-d and will be rewarded in turn.
We all have opportunities to 'cut a few corners' in our jobs. Most of the time we can even hear that little
voice inside giving us all sorts of reasons on why we should. During such times we should remember what hap-
pened in this week's Parsha. Yaakov, by overcoming any desire for revenge, laziness, etc... against his employer,
gained the title of 'Tzaddik.' Hopefully, we will be able to follow in his footsteps and earn that title among those
whom we have business dealings with.
Have an amazing Shabbos!
(adapted from
(David LauerContinued from page 1)
p. 38
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Author: HALB DRS
Title: Dvarim HaYotzim Min HaLev - VaYetze

Yaakov awoke from his sleep and said Surely Ha-
shem is present in this place, and I did not know! And
he became frightened and said, How awesome is this
place! This is none other than the abode of God and
this is the gate of the heavens. (28:16-17)

I. Connection to the Parsha In this weeks Parsha,
Yaakov Avinu experiences his famous dream while
sleeping on a most holy area the area on which the
Beis Hamikdash would eventually be built. Midrash-
ically, the Heavenly Temple corresponds to the
earthly temple, so that Yaakov was at the place that
is the most propitious for prayer and service. When
Yaakov awoke from his dream, he realized the place
on which he slept was so holy that it was conducive
to prophecy. Rashi points outs that Yaakov be-
moaned that had he known this, he would not dared
have slept there. Much has been discussed regarding
the permissibility, or lack thereof, of even walking
into the area of the Har Habayis.
II. Introduction to Issue The issue of whether it is
halachically permissible to enter the Temple Mount
area is one that has been debated since Israel, after
2,000 years, recaptured this holiest site during its
victory in the Six Day War. In this article, I will pre-
sent various opinions of the Rishonim, as well as lay
out the geographical boundaries of this much dis-
cussed spot. It should be noted that when dealing
with such an emotionally charged issue there is al-
ways a risk that opinions on this matter might be col-
ored by political views and attitudes. Accordingly,
this topic must be dealt with very carefully and ulti-
mate decisions should be left to the authority of our
III. Brief History The area of the Temple Mount is
one that Judaism regards as one of the holiest places
on earth. It is home to some of the most historical
and important events in Jewish History. The site is
the location of Akeidas Yitzchak, and the spot on
which the two Batei Mikdashim were placed.
The first Beis HaMikdash was built by Shlomo
HaMelech in 957 BCE and destroyed by
the Babylonians in 586 BCE. The second was con-
structed in 516 BCE and destroyed by the Romans in
70 CE. Around 19 BCE, Herod the Great further ex-
panded the Mount. The ambitious project, which
more than doubled the size of Temple Mount to ap-
proximately 36 acres. Herod leveled the area by cut-
ting away rock on the northwest side and raising the
sloping ground to the south. Jewish tradition main-
tains that the Third and final Temple will also be
built in this location. Jews all over the world face
themselves towards this location when praying.
IV. Dimensions of the Area In order to discuss the
prohibition of entering the Temple Mount, we must
first understand the proper parameters of the dis-
cussed area. It is important to keep in mind that the
region referred to today as the Temple Mount, is
not the same as the area known as the Har
HaBayis. For this reason the term Temple Mount
will be used for the current enclosed era, while the
term Har HaBayis, will be used for the area that
stood during the days of the Second Temple period.
A. Temple Mount Area The current Temple
Mount is basically rectangular in shape. It
measures 488 meters (1,601 feet) on its
western side, 471 meters (1,542 feet) on its
eastern side, 315 meters (1033 feet) on the
northern side, and 280 meters (919 feet) on
the southern side. This adds to a total area
of 150,000 square feet. The entire lengths of
the southern and eastern walls are exposed,
while a small portion of its western side is
exposed (The Kotel). A small portion of the
northern wall is also exposed (Kotel Ha-
Katan). Anyone who has visited the West-
ern Wall Tunnel Tours in Jerusalem will
have learned that most of the walls are sub-
merged underground.
B. Har HaBayis Area The dimensions of the
(Continued on page 7)
The Issue of Entering Har Habayis
By Rabbi Natan Farber
p. 39
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Author: HALB DRS
Title: Dvarim HaYotzim Min HaLev - VaYetze
Dvarim Hayotzim Min Halev 7

Har HaBayis are quite smaller than that of
todays Temple Mount. The Mishnah in
Masechet Middos (2:1) states that the area
of the Har HaBayis is square, measuring
500 amos on each side. Enclosed within this
area was the Beis Hamikdash.
C. Dome of the Rock In the center of the
Mont is a large octagon shaped mosque
known as the Dome of the Rock. This is the
gold dome that can be seen from many plac-
es in Jerusalem. The construction of this
building took place in the late 8
The Dome stands upon a trapezoidal struc-
ture referred to, simply, as The Raised Plat-
V. The Source of the Prohibition to enter the Mish-
kan area
A. Parshas Naso 5:2-4 The encampment of
the Bnei Yisroel in the desert consisted of
three sections. The innermost area was re-
ferred to as the Machaneh Shechinah. This
area contained the Mishkan. The second re-
gion is known as Machaneh Leviyah, the
encampment of the Leviim. This area sur-
rounded the Mishkan. To make their camp a
worthy home for the Mishkan and Shechi-
nah, the Bnei Yisroel were cautioned to rid
their camps of ritual contamination. Each
section carried with it separate laws pertain-
ing to the level of Tumah that was allowed
into its airspace. Those with tzaraas could
not enter any of the camps. Those defiled by
a zav or zavah emission, a niddah, or yole-
det, could not enter the camp of the Leviim.
Those individuals who came in contact with
a dead body couldnt enter the Machaneh
B. Rambam Hilchos Beis HaBechira 7:11 The
Rambam explained that the sanctified areas
in Jerusalem correspond directly to the dif-
ferent areas that make up the encampment
of the Bnei Yisroel in the Midbar. When the
Jews settled the Land of Israel these
camps were represented by the following
sanctified areas: The land within the walls
of Jerusalem was comparable to the camp of
Israel. The Har Habayis corresponded to the
camp of the Leviim. Finally, the Mikdash
and its courtyard corresponded to the Ma-
chaneh Shechinah. The same laws of Tumah
that applied to the camps in the desert also
applied to the sections of Jerusalem.
C. Mishna Keilim 1:8 The Mishnah here lists
the restrictions concerning the Har HaBayis.
It is clear from the Mishnah that Min Hato-
rah, one who is Tamei Mes may enter the
Har HaBayis area, but may not enter further.
However, the rabbis added additional re-
strictions, and decreed that a Tamei Meis
may not go all the way to the Azarah but
must stop at the Cheil, the same boundary
that applies to a non-Jew.
D. Gemarah Shevuos 16b The Gemarah de-
lineates two separate prohibitions of enter-
ing the Temple area in a state of Tumah.
Firstly, just simply entering into the area
is considered a punishable action. Secondly,
remaining in the Temple area in a state of
defilement is considered to be a separate
VI. Does the prohibition still apply today There is
much debate amongst the Rishonim and contem-
porary poskim regarding whether the laws of Tu-
mah, in regard to entering the Har HaBayis, still
exist today, while the Beis HaMikdash is no longer
in existence.
A. Gemarah Ediyos - R Eliezer asserted that
at the time of the reconstruction of the Beis
Hamikdash, curtains were placed on the Har
HaBayis in order to delineate the boundaries
of the Mikdash and its courtyards. R Ye-
hoshua then made a seemingly irrelevant
statement. He stated that the original status
of holiness that was present at the time the
(Continued from page 6)
(Continued on page 8)
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first Beis HaMikdash stood remains in ex-
istence always, and therefore, sacrifices
could have been brought to the Beis HaMik-
dash area even without the placement of
B. Gemarah Megillah 10a The Gemarah as-
sumes that R Eliezer was arguing with R
Yehoshua, and that he maintained that the
holiness of the area only existed at the time
when the structure of the Beis HaMikdash
was in existence. As Rashi there explained,
the curtains acted as a representation of the
Temples walls in order to make that area a
functional one for serving sacrifices. Alt-
hough the Gemarah present a possibility in
which R Eliezer and R Yehoshua are in
agreement with one another, the conclusion
is that there is a debate regarding this very
1. Rambam Hilchos Beis HaBechira
6:14-16 - The opinion of the Ram-
bam is that the Kedusha of the Beis
HaMikdash lasts forever. Therefore,
any restriction regarding entering
the area due to its state of holiness
still applies. The Rambam explicitly
states (Hilchos Beis HaBechira 7:7)
that Even though the Mikdash is in
ruins today, everyone is obligated
to revere it like when it was stand-
ing not to enter any place that is
1) The Torah in Vayikra 19:30
commands us to respect both
the Shabbos and Mikdash
area. The Gemarah
(Yevamos 6a) tells us that
the juxtaposition of these two
seemingly unrelated topics
teaches us that just as the
Mitzvah is Shabbos is eter-
nal, so too is the holiness of
the Temple.
2. Raavad ibid The major opinion
opposing the Rambam is the Raa-
vad. Commenting on Halacha
6:14, the Raavad states that the
holy state of the Temple area does
not endure forever.
3. Magen Avraham O:C 561/ Mish-
nah Berurah 561:5 The general
consensus amongst later poskim,
including the Mishnah Berurah
and the Magen Avraham, is to fol-
low the opinion of the Rambam. It
is important to note that these
poskim would be skeptical to at-
tempt to clarify where the original
Beis Hamikdash actually stood,
and to determine where the exact
prohibited areas lie today.
1) It is reasonable to assume that
almost everyone today has at
one point come in contact
with a dead body. Therefore,
mostly everyone is prohibit-
ed to enter the area on which
the Mikdash structure exist-
ed. Even if one could ascer-
tain that he has not come in
contact with a Meis, there
may still be an issue of Tu-
mah that applies to him.
Modern poskim write that
since we do not practice the
laws of Tumah and Taharah
as carefully as the generation
of the Beis HaMikdash, we
are all considered amei
haaretz in regard to the sub-
ject of Tumah and Tahara. A
rabbinical decree was made
which declares every am
haaretz in this regard to be
considered in a state of Tu-
mah similar to a zav. This
would prohibit all from en-
(Continued from page 7)
(Continued on page 9)
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Dvarim Hayotzim Min Halev 9

tering the Temple Mount ar-
ea. R Ovadiah Yosef raises
another reason to prohibit
entrance into the Temple
Mount area. Chazal hoped to
maintain a certain feeling of
reverence for the area on
which the Beis HaMikdash
once stood. They felt that the
reverence gained by creating
a prohibition to enter the area
would be far more valuable
than one gained by regularly
entering the site. In fact, the
Rambam (Hilchos Beis
HaBechira 7:2) prohibits any
purposeless entrance onto the
area because of this reason.
Therefore, since no one
would enter the area in order
to bring sacrifices today, any
entrance would be consid-
ered completely purposeless.
VII. The Kotel
A. The general assumption regarding the Kotel
itself is that it is a remnant of the wall of the
Temple Mount area extended by Herod, but
not a piece of the actual Mikdash wall itself.
There were, however, some poskim who
were concerned that the Kotel is indeed
amongst the remains of the actual Temple
structure. Therefore, this position is general-
ly proven to be incorrect based on archeo-
logical evidence and proper measurements.
There are individuals who are careful not to
touch the wall, or even go up close to it.
Some poskim are careful not to place their
finger into a crevice of the wall, or to place
notes in the wall in concern of entering part
of their body into sacred space. A practical
issue is whether one may lean against the
Kotel wall. In general, it is prohibited to
benefit from any sacred object. R Schachter
in his Sefer Nefesh HaRav (A sefer which
records opinions of R Soloveitchik, pg.
101) writes that one should try to stay away
from leaning against the wall for this very
VIII. Conclusion
A. There are a number of reasons why one
should not enter the Temple Mount area.
Firstly, it is hard to determine where the ac-
tual Beis HaMikdash stood in regard to the
modern day Temple Mount area extended
by King Herod. Secondly, most of us are
considered to be in a state of either Tumas
Meis, or Tumas Zav, and are therefore pro-
hibited from entering this holy site in such a
state. Lastly, it is important to realize that
there are no major rabbinic opinions which
allow entrance onto the site, and we must
honor our Rabbis opinions with great admi-
ration. There is one more consideration that
should be taken into account regarding the
decision to enter the Temple Mount. This is
the issue of demonstrating Jewish control
over this area. In the days immediately fol-
lowing the Six Day War, many Jews, in-
cluding Israels chief Rabbis, entered the
Temple Mount as an expression of Kibbush
Haaretz conquering the land of Eretz Yis-
roel, and making it ours. Shortly after this,
the number of Jews entering into the area
diminished. It is no question that now, more
than ever, there is a dire need to show the
world our sovereignty over the Temple
Mount area, as well as the entire land of Is-
rael. In order to do so, we must display our
bond to that area by revering it as appropri-
ately as possible. The Har HaBayis should
not be another stop on a tourists trip. We
must realize that at one time, it was home to
the Beis HaMikdash. We look forward once
again to be able to enter it unquestionably,
in a state in which we are able to serve
Hakadosh Baruch to the best of our ability.
Have a great Shabbos!
(Continued from page 8)
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The following amazing story, The Prized
Possession by Rabbi Paysach Krohn, can
teach us many lessons such as judging peo-
ple favorably, letting others have their mo-
ment of honor, and the true piety of our sag-
es. It is taken from
The intimate circle of friends of the
Ksav Sofer (19th century leader of European
Jewry) was among the elite of the Torah
world. This distinguished group of rabbis
and friends had gathered for a celebration
meal at which various rabbis addressed the
assembled guests. When the Ksav Sofer's
turn to speak came, he told his audience that
he had with him a treasured possession that
he was ready to reveal for the first time.
Everyone watched in awe as the Ksav
Sofer took from his pocket an authentic half
-shekel coin that was used in the time of the
Holy Temple. The coin was over 2,000
years old!
The discussion soon changed to the
various ancient laws regarding the half-
shekel. The coin was passed from hand to
hand, each person examining, fingering and
caressing it gently with a nostalgic longing
to be in contact even for a moment with the
glorious bygone era of Jewish history.
The evening wore on and after a
while the Ksav Sofer, not having seen the
coin for what seemed a very long time,
asked that it be returned to him. He asked
the people on his right, but they didn't have
it. He asked the people on his left and they
didn't have it either. Everyone began search-
ing for it, and soon it became obvious that it
was nowhere to be found. A stony silence
fell on the room.
One of the rabbis present rose and
said, "Honored rabbis, we simply cannot
leave this room before this precious coin is
found. Perhaps everyone should empty his
pockets. Who knows, maybe someone inad-
vertently put the half-shekel in his pocket
with some of his other coins."
A nervous stillness pervaded the
room. No one was ready to accuse any of
the distinguished guests of theft - nonethe-
less, the coin had to be somewhere.
Among the distinguished rabbis
around the table sat Rabbi Yehudah Asad of
Hungary, who was a good bit older than the
others present. He became very pale and
slowly rose from his seat, as all eyes turned
to him. "Honored rabbis," he began, "It is
true, the suggestion of checking everyone is
(Continued on page 5)
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Vol. 17 Issue #8
Parshas Vayetzei
Tosafos (ibid s.v. aser) cites a statement in the Sifrei (which
is not found in our current standard editions) that extrapo-
lates from this entire expression that there are indeed two
tithes which must actually be given. The first is the one
tenth to be separated from ones agricultural produce, the
second is the one tenth to be given to the poor from any
other potential source of income, such as business or other
capital gains that one may have. This too, then, is a source
for the Mitzvah of Maaser Kesafim. It is worth noting that
this same idea appears in the Yalkut Shimoni, in Parshas
Reeih (remez 893) and in the Midrash Tanchuma (ibid os
18), where it is mentioned that this gift of one tenth of
ones business income should be given specifically to those
who are involved in Torah study.
The implication of the above sources is that the ob-
ligation to give Maaser Kesafim to the poor is rooted in the
Torah, a view which seems to be accepted by the Shaloh
(Shnei Luchos Habris, Maseches Megillah inyan tzeddakah
umaaser, s.v. umikol makom), among others. Most other
Poskim, however, do not consider this to be a Torah based
obligation. The Maharil, for example (shut Maharil, siman
54, 56), writes clearly that the Mitzvah of Maaser Kesafim
is MideRabbanan, and he consequently allows for certain
leniencies in this obligation. The Chavos Yair too (shut
Chavos Yair siman 224), in a lengthy Teshuvah where he
discusses, among other things, what exactly is considered
income and how to treat business expenses in this regard,
likewise quotes an opinion that the obligation of Maaser
Kesafim is MideRabbanan, and that the Pesukim mentioned
above are just a remez, a hint to the idea in the Torah. He
notes there as well that the aforementioned Yalkut Shimoni
(ibid) writes specifically that the Posuk in the Torah is only
a remez. The Aruch HaShulchan (Yoreh Deyah, siman 249
seif 2) likewise writes that the requirement to give one
tenth of ones money to the poor is only MideRabbanan,
and it is merely hinted at by the Posuk in this Parsha
(Bereishis, ibid posuk 22) referred to above; the Maaser
Maaser Kesafim Maaser Kesafim Maaser Kesafim Maaser Kesafim
etuu| `|v{tx gtux
When Yaakov Avinu, while running away from his
brother Eisav, awakens after dreaming about the Malachim
ascending and descending the ladder, he davens to Hashem,
and vows that if Hashem will provide for his needs and see
that he will return safely to his fathers home, he will give
Hashem one tenth of whatever he has (Bereishis 28:20-22).
In the Daas Zekeinim MiBaalei HaTosafos (ibid posuk 20
s.v. im), a Midrash is cited which indicates that Yaakov at
that time instituted that one should give away one tenth of
ones money to Tzedakah. Although the Torah itself clearly
presents elsewhere the Mitzvah to support the poor by giv-
ing Tzedakah (Vayikra 25:35, Devarim 15:7-8), no guide-
lines are given as to specifically how much money or what
percentage of ones income must be given to Tzedakah in
order to properly fulfill this Mitzvah. The idea of giving
one tenth of ones agricultural produce to the poor is in-
deed documented in the Torah (Devarim 26:12); this is
known as Maaser Ani, which was given in years three and
six of seven year Shemittah cycle. No other mention, how-
ever, of a requirement to give specifically one tenth of any-
thing to the poor is found in the Torah.
Based upon a Posuk in Mishlei (3:9), however, the
Yerushalmi in Peiah (Perek 1 halacha 1, 3b) implies that one
is required to give Maaser Ani, a tithe of one tenth to the
poor, from all of ones possessions, not just from agricul-
tural produce. This view is cited by the Mordechai, in his
commentary on the Gemara in Bava Kamma (siman 192,
daf 53: Bdapei Harif), where it is presented as a source for
the Mitzvah to give Maaser Kesafim. Another source is
found in the commentary of Tosafos on the Gemara in
Taanis (9a) which expounds upon a Posuk later in the Torah
(Devarim 14:22) that contains the seemingly extraneous
double use of a word in relationship to tithes (Aser Taser).

10 Kislev 5773
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Page 2 Vol . 17 Issue #8

actually required by the Torah relates only to ones agricul-
tural products, and is given to the poor only once every
three years.
Still other authorities rule that giving Maaser
Kesafim to the poor is required neither by the Torah nor by
the Rabbanan, but is rather a Minhag, a proper custom.
This position is articulated by the Bach, in his commentary
on the Tur (Yoreh Deyah, siman 331 s.v. av), when he dis-
cusses what type of Tzedakah may be given with Maaser
Kesafim money, as opposed to Maaser Ani money, and is
agreed to by Rav Yaakov Emden (shut shailos Yaavetz
vol. 1 siman 6), who, quoting the above cited Posuk in this
Parsha (ibid), writes that giving Maaser money to the poor
is a Middas Chasidus, an act of piety learned form Yaakov
Avinu; he then proves that there is no actual obligation,
even on the level of a Mitzvah MideRabbanan. In an earlier
Teshuvah (ibid, siman 1), Rav Yaakov Emden quotes from
his father the Chacham Tzvi that the Bachs position is cor-
rect, and he himself brings proofs to his fathers view in a
subsequent Teshuvah (ibid, siman 3). The Chavos Yair, in
the aforementioned Teshuvah (ibid), agrees to this position
himself as well; this seems to be the majority view. The
Pischei Teshuvah (Yoreh Deyah, ibid, seif katan 12) notes
that this position that giving Maaser Kesafim is only a Min-
hag was actually presented much earlier by the Maharam of
Rothenburg. He then adds, however, that some hold that
although it is only a Minhag, once one has observed the
Minhag, he shouldnt stop doing so except in a situation of
great need. Some of the above quoted Poskim discuss how
many times one must observe this practice before it is con-
sidered that he has permanently adopted the Minhag.
One of the issues which depends upon whether giv-
ing Maaser Kesafim is an actual Mitzvah (from the Torah or
from the Rabbanan) or whether it is simply a Minhag is the
question of to whom one is required to give Maaser
Kesafim money. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deyah siman
249 seif 1) writes that one must support the poor by giving
them as much as they need, keeping in mind how much he
can afford; giving one tenth is considered the average con-
tribution, while one who wishes to be generous should give
one fifth, as suggested by the Gemara in Kesubos (50a).
The Ramo (ibid) adds, though, that Maaser Kesafim money
must be used specifically to be given to the poor, and not
for any other Mitzvah or to assist any other worthwhile
cause. The Shach (ibid) quotes those who disagree and say
that expenses for a Mitzvah which one otherwise would
not have done may be paid for with ones Maaser money.
The view of the Ramo (ibid) is most likely based on there
being a strong connection between Maaser Kesafim and
Maaser Ani; the latter had to be given to poor people and
not used even for Mitzvos. The view of the other Poskim
probably is that since giving Maaser Kesafim is simply a
Minhag, its rules do not necessarily parallel those of the
Mitzvah to give Maaser Ani. The Chasam Sofer (shut
Chasam Sofer, Yoreh Deyah siman 232) makes this very
distinction; in his previous Teshuvah (ibid, siman 231) he
suggests that if when one first decides to undertake the
practice of giving Maaser Kesafim, one has in mind specifi-
cally that he would like to use the money to pay for other
Mitzvos or to support other charitable causes and not just
give it to the poor, he may do so.
In terms of how to calculate ones income for the
purpose of determining how much the one tenth is that he
must give away, Rav Moshe Feinstein (shut Igros Moshe,
Yoreh Deyah vol.1 siman 143) writes that money which is
held back from ones paycheck for withholding taxes is
considered as if it was never his, and thus is not viewed as
part of his income; Maaser Kesafim need not be deducted
from that portion of ones salary. This is unlike money
which one actually has, but uses to pay for sales tax and the
like, which is nevertheless considered part of ones in-
come. He also discusses how to treat household expenses,
such as funds needed for child support, in terms of whether
such money is subject to Maaser Kesafim. Rav Yosef Ka-
ro, in one of his Teshuvos (shut avkas rochel siman 3),
seems to rule that funds spent on all essential household
needs are not subject to the requirement of Maaser
Kesafim, but it is questionable as to whether or not this
view is accepted; Rav Ovadyah Yosef (shut yichaveh daa
vol. 3 siman 76 os 4) discusses this matter, quoting numer-
ous opinions. It is worth noting that the Chofetz Chaim, in
his treatise entitled Ahavas Chessed (inyan maaser
kesafim, perek 18 os 2), offers specific guidelines as to how
to properly observe the practice of giving Maaser Kesafim,
including recommendations that one keep written records
in a notebook about how much he gives to Tzedakah, as
well as that one should take a reckoning of ones income
and ones Tzedakah contributions once or twice a year.
He adds later (ibid perek 20 os 6) that one who is careful
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Page 3

Vol . 17 Issue #8
about giving Maaser Kesafim is treated as though Hashem
Himself were his partner in business.

The Zechus of Rachel The Zechus of Rachel The Zechus of Rachel The Zechus of Rachel
lx{wt gtzx
In this weeks parsha, Hashem remembers Rachel
and gives her a child. This comes right after the story of the
dudaim, in which Rachel asks Leah to share her special flow-
ers. Rashi explains that the reason Hashem remembered
Rachel is because she gave Leah the simanim. However, we
must ask why this zechus did not help her earlier, and what
aspect of the story of the dudaim strengthened this zechus.
We know that normally it is asur to marry two sis-
ters; and we know that the Avos kept the entire Torah.
However, Chazal tell us that the Avos had the right to use
the reasons of the mitzvos to decide when they apply. The
reason for this mitzvah is that we are afraid that the two
wives will fight if they are sisters. Yaakov thought that Ra-
chel and Leah were above that, so he was able to marry
them both.
First, Yaakov married Leah and they were able to
have children. Then, he married Rachel. Though he
paskened that this marriage was mutar, Rachel had to prove it
before she was granted children. She had to prove that she
would not antagonize Leah; otherwise, her children would
be considered lower class Jews because they came from a
woman whom Yaakov was not supposed to have married.
Rachel gave Leah the simanim, enabling her to mar-
ry Yaakov in her stead. This one-time act of generosity was
not enough to prove that the marriage was mutar. She need-
ed to continue her good feelings long enough that Yaakov
would be proven correct. That is why she had to wait.
When Rachel asks Leah for the dudaim, Leah re-
plies: you already took my husband, do you want my flow-
ers too? This sounds obnoxious because Rachel gave Leah
the simanim. Yaakov was supposed to be Rachels husband,
not Leahs, but Rachel gave it to Leah. Rav Druk suggests
that the reason Leah was able to respond this way is that
Rachel gave the simanim over in such a way that Leah did
not even know that Rachel was supposed to marry Yaakov.
That is why she thought that Rachel had stolen her husband
by marrying him. Now we realize that there is a dark cloud
hanging over this marriage. Rachel could decide to tell Leah
the truth at any moment. Through this episode, though,
Rachel proved that she would not do that. Leah accused her
of stealing Yaakov, which was the ultimate test to see if Ra-
chel would keep her silence. She passed, proving that Yaa-
kovs psak was correct, thus making it okay for Rachel to
have children. That is why this episode is an essential prel-
ude to the birth of Yosef, because only now do we know
that Rachel was allowed to marry Yaakov.
We now see why Rachel is the one whose cry Ha-
shem will listen to. The Avos each had several extraordinar-
ily special moments in their lives, such as the akeida. How-
ever, Rachel made a decision to make every day of her life
much harder. She never gave in and told Leah. Rather she
kept her feelings to herself and let Leah enjoy some peace
and happiness. When Avraham comes to Hashem and tries
to invoke the zechus of the ten tests, Hashem will point out
specific times when he did something extraordinary on be-
half of Bnei Yisrael. However, Rachel made an ongoing
commitment to forgo her own comfort on behalf of her
sister, and she will demand that Hashem do the same, giv-
ing us what we need and ignoring our indifference. Hashem
should listen to Rachels pleas soon and restore peace to us
and to all of his children.

Yaakov and Leah: A Remarkable Rela- Yaakov and Leah: A Remarkable Rela- Yaakov and Leah: A Remarkable Rela- Yaakov and Leah: A Remarkable Rela-
tionship tionship tionship tionship
T{x Y|~xx|
The seemingly sorry state of the relationship be-
tween Yaakov and Leah has baffled many throughout the
ages. Firstly, how could Yaakov, a righteous man, hate his
wife? Making matters even more confusing, the nature of
Yaakovs relationship with Leah seems to be described in
contradictory terms in two pesukim. In one passuk
(29:30), it says Yaakov, loved Rachel even more than
Leah, implying that although he loved Leah, he simply
loved Rachel more. In the following passuk it says that,
Hashem saw that Leah was hated, so he opened her
womb. Was Leah hated or simply loved less than Rachel?
Perhaps it can be suggested that from Yaakovs perspective,
he loved both of his wives, but loved Rachel more. From
Leahs perspective however, her inferiority in the eyes of
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Vol . 17 Issue #8 Page 4
Obviously, there is a distinct change in the facts
surrounding the stones. When he went to sleep there
were many and when he arose there was only one. Rashi
brings us the explanation that the Midrash offers. He says
the stones began quarreling with one another. One said,
Upon me let this righteous man rest his head, and another
said, Upon me let him rest his head. Immediately, Ha-
shem made them into one stone.
This sounds like a fanciful story bordering on a fairy
tale. The truth, however, is that the Midrash is endeavoring
to teach us a significant message that we should be aware of
constantly. The Jewish people have all kinds of individuals.
Many have varying opinions of what Judaism stands for.
These opinions may differ widely and some may stray far
afield. Some may hold theories that are so distant from what
Judaism really is.
When it comes, however, to the survival of the
Jewish people we should all be united. Especially in a time
like we are in now when we are being attacked, it is crucial
for us, the Bnei Yisrael to come together as one. We may be
different in our thinking like the many stones that Yaakov
gathered, but when it comes to our continued existence we
should all be united and stick together. We are all responsi-
ble for each other and must be like the one stone that Yaa-
kov took when he arose from his dream.
Yaakov emanated from hatred.
The Midrash Tanchuma suggests that when the pas-
suk says Leah was hated, it does not mean that Yaakov
hated her; rather it means that the actions of Esav were hat-
ed by her. According to the Midrash, people would say that
as the older daughter of Lavan, Leah should marry Rivkahs
oldest Esav, and Lavans youngest, Rachel, should marry
Rivkahs youngest Yaakov. Hearing that she would marry
the evil Esav caused Leah much anguish and this is what it
means that she was, hated. The Kli Yakar in contrast, sug-
gests that when it says that Yaakov loved Rachel more than
Leah, it is not meant to imply that he loved Leah. Rather, it
simply means that Yaakov loved Rachel more because of
Leah; appreciating Rachel in contrast to Leah made Yaakov
love Rachel even more. According to the Ramban however,
the expression, hated is merely a generic term that applies
to the less-loved wife in any family, and does not necessarily
imply that Yaakov actually hated Leah.
With the approaches of the Midrash Tanchuma and
the Ramban in mind, we can better understand the nature
of Yaakovs relationship with Leah. Yaakov did not hate
Leah; nevertheless, she was clearly the less-loved wife. Alt-
hough this favoritism may seem unbecoming of a man of
Yaakovs stature, when one closely examines the story of
Yaakov and Leah, one appreciates how remarkable it is that
they were able to have a functioning relationship at all. First
off, Leah was undoubtedly less attractive than her sister, as
the pesukim make clear. Then, Leah married Yaakov by
tricking him. Making things worse, she was already ru-
mored as the appropriate wife for Esav. Taking all this into
account, it is hard not to admire Yaakovs ability to not hate
her, although we can certainly understand why Leah was
less loved than Rachel.

Stones of Unity Stones of Unity Stones of Unity Stones of Unity
T| fxuutz
The Torah tells that when Yaakov was ready to lie
down to sleep, Vayikach Meavne Hamakom, he took
from the stones of the place which he arranged around his
head (28, 11). When he arose the Torah says, Vayikach
Et Haeven, and took the stone that he placed around
his head (28,18).

Rosh Yeshiva: Rabbi Michael Taubes
Rabbinic Advisor: Rabbi Baruch Pe-
sach Mendelson
Editors in Chief: Meir Finkelstein and
Yoni Schwartz
Layout Editor: Ori Putterman
Associate Editor: Akiva Schiff
Distribution Coordinator: Binyamin
Publication Manager: Philip Meyer
Head Of Writing Staff: Yehuda Tager
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In the course of his journey from Beer Sheva to Charan, Yaakov arrives at a location where he is forced to
bed down for the night. There he dreams his famous dream of a ladder stretching from the earth heavenward.
The phrase used in the Torah to describe Yaakovs initial encounter with the location of his dream is: vayifga
bamakom, and he encountered the place.

The text seems to be referencing a specific location of importance, already known to us. And yet the site of
Yaakovs dream is later identified in the text as the town of Luz, a location that has not been mentioned
previously in the Torah and which is of no inherent significance prior to Yaakovs dream.
Why then does the text read bamakom, the place as opposed to bmakom, a place?


Two distinct and very different approaches are offered by the rabbis in answer to this question.
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1. The Midrashic approach:
The location of Yaakovs dream was actually Mount Moriah, later to become the Temple Mount in
Two generations earlier, when Avraham arrives at Mount Moriah, the site of Akeidat Yitzchak, the Torah
states: Vayaar es hamakom meirachok, and he saw the place from afar.
By referring to both Mount Moriah and the location of Yaakovs dream as the place, the Torah connects
the two sites and indicates that they are one and the same.
The Midrashic approach encounters a serious geographical difficulty. At the time of his dream, Yaakov is
actually at a location which he will identify as Beit E-l (literally The House of God) far to the north of
The Talmud addresses this difficulty by suggesting, based on textual hints, that Yaakov actually completes
his entire journey and reaches Charan. The patriarch, however, then suffers remorse at having passed by
Mount Moriah, the place where his fathers prayed, without stopping for prayer. God miraculously
transports Yaakov back to Mount Moriah where he dreams his dream.
Rashi, in his commentary on the Talmud, explains that, according to this interpretation, when the patriarch
names the site of his dream Beit E-l, he is not referring to the location identified as Beit E-l today, but to
Jerusalem, which he prophetically identifies as the House of God. In his commentary on Chumash,
however, Rashi takes a different tack. He interprets the Talmudic position by maintaining that God
performed the additional miracle of uprooting Mount Moriah and temporarily bringing it to Beit E-l.
The Midrash Rabba quotes Rebbe Elazar in the name of Rebbi Yossi Ben Zimri who suggests that the ladder
of Yaakovs dream was rooted in Beer Sheva, stretched to Beit E-l and had its center at Jerusalem.
2. The approach of pashut pshat:
As night fell, Yaakov arrived at a location outside the town of Luz.
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Some authorities suggest that this location was specifically set aside for wayfarers. While it was not a site of
particular significance, the Torah nonetheless refers to it as hamakom, the place, because of the practical
purpose that it served. Similar sites existed outside other towns at that time.

The debate concerning the site of Yaakovs dream might, at first glance, seem to be of only passing interest.
What exactly is driving this rabbinic discussion? What compels the Midrash to perform geographic
calisthenics simply to allow the dream to occur on Mount Moriah? And is there any deeper meaning to the
approach of pashut pshat and its claim that the dream occurred in a location of no special significance?

Yaakovs reaction, upon abruptly awakening from this dream, lends significance in retrospect to the issue at
hand. Suddenly the question of the dreams location becomes very important, indeed, striking to the core of
the concept of sanctity within Jewish thought.
Yaakov exclaims: Behold the Lord is in this place and I did not know. How awesome is this place! This is
none other than the House of God and this is the gate to heaven!
On the basis of this observation, Yaakov subsequently renames the location Beit E-l, the House of God.
The interpretation of Yaakovs words is dependent upon which position one takes in the debate concerning
the location of the patriarchs dream.
Once again, two very different possibilities emerge:
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1. According to the Midrashic approach Yaakov cries out: Oh my God, look at where I am! I am sleeping on
Mount Moriah, the very gateway to heaven! How could I have been so blind to the inherent significance and
sanctity of this location? How could I have failed to act with greater deference?
2. According to the approach of pashut pshat, on the other hand, Yaakovs observation is very different: I
had no idea God is everywhere! If the Lord can appear to me in a vision of such grandeur at this
unimportant spot, outside the city of Luz, then every place upon which I stand is potentially the house of God
and any location on earth can be the gateway to heaven.
The power of this observation is multiplied a thousandfold when we recognize that, at this point, a patriarch
is about to leave the land of Canaan for the first time in over a generation. Common religious belief in the
patriarchal era dictated that specific gods were tied to specific lands. Yaakov could well have been
concerned, therefore, at this frightening moment of his life, that his God might offer only limited or no
protection outside the land of Canaan.
As we will note in the next study (see Vayeitzei 2, Approaches eg) much of Yaakovs dream is tailored to
disabuse the patriarch of this notion and to remind him of the all-encompassing power of the One and only

Which of the two approaches is correct? Exactly where did Yaakov dream his dream? And what is the
substance of the patriarchs observation upon awakening?
As is always the case in such rabbinic disputes, both approaches are philosophically correct. Taken together,
they create the balance that defines the idea of kedushat makom, sanctity of place, in Jewish tradition.
On the one hand, we certainly believe in the existence of locations of inherent, overarching sanctity. The
Land of Israel, Jerusalem, the Temple Mount (Mount Moriah) these are locations which draw us with
singular power, sites where our connection to God is stronger than at any other. To the mind of the authors of
the Midrash it had to be the holiest of these sites, Mount Moriah, upon which Yaakov experienced his lofty
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On the other hand, we believe that we are partners with God in the creation of holiness wherever we may be.
God is everywhere, and our ability to reach Him is not limited to a specific time or place. Kedusha (sanctity)
can surprise us, appearing when and where it is least expected outside the town of Luz or anywhere else
in a kind word, a loving gesture, a heartfelt prayer.
Elements of these two types of kedusha (sanctity) are not mutually exclusive;
in fact, they clearly overlap.
Locations of inherent holiness in Jewish tradition achieve their kedusha only through the efforts of man in
partnership with God. The Land of Israel, for example, was first sanctified upon the entry of the Jewish
nation, and that sanctity only became permanent, according to most authorities, centuries later, when our
ancestors returned from Babylonian exile. Even the holy Temple became sacred through the participation of
On the other hand, while we are enjoined to create kedusha in partnership with God wherever we may be,
there remains a fundamental distinction between sanctity created within and outside the Land of Israel. In the
diaspora, we are enjoined to generate sanctity through our words and actions through the way in which we
live our lives but we cannot bestow lasting kedusha upon a specific location. Outside the land, such sanctity
remains temporal and fleeting; it dissipates once our efforts cease and our presence ends. Only in the Land of
Israel does the possibility of permanent kedusha exist. Once sanctified properly, the Land of Israel retained
its holiness even when our people were exiled beyond its borders. In this way, once established, our holiest
sites remained a continuing beacon of inspiration to a far-flung people across a turbulent history.

A Personal Reminiscence
A number of years ago I traveled with members of my congregation to Eastern Europe prior to our annual
mission to Israel. Among our experiences was a visit to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, a way station
for countless of our brethren on the journey to their final destination.
At one particular location in the camp, our guide took us behind a bakery and down some steps to a hidden
underground room. Suddenly we found ourselves, to our astonishment, in a small synagogue which had been
built by a group of Danish Jews, secretly, under the very eyes of their Nazi tormentors. We were speechless,
struck by the courage and devotion of these individuals who, at the risk of their lives, had continued to
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worship their Creator, even at a time when Gods very face was hidden from them.
As we walked around that small shul, we noticed that passages from the Torah and liturgy had been painted
on the walls in a fashion common to European synagogues of that time. One such passage poignantly read,
And in spite of all, we have not forgotten, [Dear Lord] do not forget us.
But, then, as I continued to read, I was suddenly struck completely dumb. For on the wall before me appeared
the following passage, painted through who knows how many tears: How awesome is this place! This is
none other than the House of God and this is the gate to heaven! I was astounded Here in Theresienstadt,
the House of God? In the depths of hell, the gate to heaven?
I gazed at the words spoken by the patriarch, Yaakov, in the darkness of the night outside the town of Luz,
painstakingly painted centuries later on the walls of a secret synagogue in Theresienstadtand I felt a
fleeting sense of the sanctity which had existed in that room decades earlier. A sanctity created by a
courageous group of nameless Jews who understood that even in the darkness of hell, even in the presence of
their tormentors, even in the depths of pain and sorrow, holiness could somehow be achieved and God could
somehow be found.
Their courage and devotion will remain with me forever.
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10 Kislev 5773/November 24, 2012
Beit Midrash Zichron Dov
Toronto Torah Toronto Torah Toronto Torah
Parshat Vayetze Vol.4 Num. 10

In last week's parshah, we read about
Esav's sale of his birthright to Yaakov,
in exchange for lentil soup (ibid. 25:29):
"And Yaakov prepared stew, and Esav
came from the field, and he was tired."
The parallel between the two sales and
the biblical choice of words demands
analysis; the similar expressions lead
us to search for other parallels. Yaakov
acquires the birthright in order to
improve his position in the family; Leah
"acquires" Yaakov because she is
unhappy with her place in the family.
Both Rachel and Esav recei ve
something which appears to be worth
far less than that which they are
trading. [As Rashi wrote (ibid. 30:16),
"Because Rachel degraded lying with
the righteous one, she did not merit to
be buried with him."] Taking this
parallel a step further, we find that
despite the midrashic statement
(Tanchuma Vayetze 12) that Leah had
been destined for Esav, Leah embraced
the role of Yaakov and acquired that
which was important, where Rachel
acted in the mold of Esav. This is the
lesson of the Torah's description of
Yaakov as "coming from the field."

Let us now return to our initial question
of why the Torah recorded the incident
with the dudaim. After the story of the
dudaim, the Torah says (Bereishit
30:17), "And G-d listened to Leah, and
she conceived and birthed a fifth son to
Yaakov." To what prayer did G-d listen?
Based on our explanation of Leah's
actions as a proactive attempt to
improve her status in the family, Leah's
prayer was expressed in the exchange of
the dudaim. Hashem saw that unlike
Rachel, who tells Yaakov that he must
act for her (ibid. 30:1), Leah grasps her
future with both hands and brings
Yaakov to her tent. Hashem saw the
resemblance between Leah's purchase
of her husband and Yaakov's purchase
of the birthright, both cases of people
identifying that which was significant to
them and taking steps to acquire them.

Let us truly understand the magnitude
of Leah's accomplishment, in gaining
the ear of G-d. The Torah (ibid. 29:35)
says of Leah that she "ceased to
produce children," but between those
children born before this time and those
born afterward, she produced seven
children in seven years. The gap
between each child could not have been
that great! We must conclude that the
cessation was not a phenomenon
observed over time; rather, the Torah is
describing a Divine decision that Leah
would not produce more children. If so,
then Leah's act with the dudaim
demonstrated her strong desire to
connect to Yaakov, and this was the
prayer which Hashem answered,
opening her womb.

So it is that a midrash (Bereishit
Rabbah 72:5) observes, "Come and see
how great was the force of the dudaim
before the Creator of the Universe. Via
the dudaim, two great tribes Yissachar
and Zevulun arose. Yissachar sat and
involved himself in Torah, and Zevulun
traveled the seas and fed Yissachar, and
so Torah grew in Israel." This midrash
informs us that the dudaim engineered
all of this; who knows whether Leah
would have merited these two children,
without her deed with the dudaim?
The Power of the Dudaim Hillel Horovitz
This issue of Toronto Torah is sponsored by Allan and Malka Rutman and Family
in memory of Allan's mother, Leah bat Rav Chaim Dovid z"l
Thirteen children are born to Yaakov,
with the births of the first twelve
recorded in a single unit in our
parshah. This unit is interrupted
twice, first to describe a conversation
between Yaakov and Rachel (Bereishit
30:1-3) and second for the incident
with Reuven and the dudaim (ibid.
30:14-16). [Dudaim are normally
translated as mandrakes, a plant with
mystical properties. Reuven brought
them to his mother Leah, and Rachel
purchased them, as described below.]

The first interlude explains why Rachel
gives Bilhah to Yaakov, leading to the
birth of the children of the former
maids, and its inclusion is logical.
However, why does the second story,
recording that Reuven brought dudaim
to his mother, and that Rachel traded
to Leah the right to be with Yaakov in
exchange for those dudaim, belong in a
narrative describing the birth of
Yaakov's children? Our sages teach
that all of these children were born
over a seven-year span; why choose to
detail this event, out of all of the
events which occurred in that time?

We may ask a second question, as
well. After the agreement between
Rachel and Leah, Yaakov returns
home. The Torah describes (ibid.
30:16), "And Yaakov came from the
field, in the evening, and Leah went
out to greet him." Why does the Torah
mention that Yaakov had been in the
We are grateful to
Continental Press 905-660-0311
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Visit us at
list, so that one who lies is in violation of
an additional commandment, over and
above these prohibitions.

It may seem odd to present so many
prohibitions regarding dishonesty, but
human commerce depends upon our
ability to rely upon each others words. If
we wish to create a stable, thriving
society, then we must make sure that our
words are always trustworthy.
We are warned not to make false
claims in financial matters. This
includes three separate prohibitions:
Not to deny our possession of others
money, as in the case of a loan or an
object given to me for safekeeping
(225); not to swear falsely in denying
that we possess others property
(226); and not to swear falsely in
general (227).

The Smag (Aseh 107) adds a separate
commandment of "Distance yourself
from falsehood" (Shemot 23:7) to our
613 Mitzvot: #225-227
Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner
Jewish Spirituality
Seeing G-d in the Present
Yair Manas
In the recent and upcoming Torah
portions, we read how our forefathers
reached out to G-d during different
times of the day. Avraham called out to
G-d in the morning (Bereishit 19:27),
Yitzchak called out to G-d in the
afternoon (Bereishit 24:63), and Yaakov
called out to G-d in the evening
(Bereishit 28:11). Our sages linked the
prayers of our forefathers with the three
prayers of the day: Avraham is linked to
shacharit in the morning, Yitzchak is
linked to minchah in the afternoon, and
Yaakov is linked to maariv in the
evening (Berachot 26b).

An idea suggested by multiple
commentators is that these times for
prayer are not haphazard; each prayer
occurs at a specific time for a particular
goal. We recite shacharit in the
morning, because we want to start off
our day praising G-d. We recite maariv
in the evening because we want to end
our day praising G-d. Minchah is
perhaps the most challenging prayer,
because it occurs in the middle of the
day, a time when we are extremely
busy. This is precisely why minchah
was established in the afternoon - so
that we might remember to take a break
to acknowledge all that G-d has given
us. Thus the prayers are all deliberately
placed at various points during the day.

Another suggestion is that each of the
p r a y e r s c o r r e s p o n d t o a n
acknowledgment of G-d. Shacharit is in
the morning, when we are looking out
to the future, as if to say that we
recognize that G-d is in the future.
Maariv is at the end of the day, when
we look back and see G-d in the past.
Minchah, in the middle of the day, sees
G-d in the present, which is more
challenging than seeing G-d in the past
or in the future. In describing
Yitzchaks prayer, the Torah teaches us
how to see G-d in the present. The verse
starts by saying that Yitzchak went out,
as if to say that we must actively look
for G-d. The verse then uses the word
lasuach, which may come from the root
word sichah, or dialogue. This teaches
us that if we will seek a dialogue with
G-d, then we will surely come to see
Him in the present.
Evil Spirits and Hand Washing R Ezra Goldschmiedt
In one of its opening comments to
Shulchan Aruch, the Mishnah Berurah
(1:2) notes that one must be exceedingly
careful to wash his hands immediately
upon waking, within four amot
(approximately two meters) of the place
where he slept. One reason cited for
washing immediately is to remove ruach
ra'ah (lit. an evil spirit) that comes upon
one's hands overnight.

While the existence of ruach ra'ah in
theory and practice is debatable (see for
example, Lechem Mishnah to Hilchot
Shevitat Asor, 3:2), the Shulchan
Aruch, in other contexts, maintains
that ruach ra'ah is of real concern.
Leaving ruach ra'ah on one's hands,
Shulchan Aruch claims, can cause one
to forget their learning and be more
susceptible to sin (Orach Chaim 4:18).

Tolaat Yaakov (Sod Netilat Yadayim
Shacharit), quoting the Zohar, claims
that one who does not take care to
remove this ruach ra'ah upon waking in
the morning is subject to death at the
hands of Heaven! However one
understands those words, the Zohar
seems to be giving a very stern warning
about this practice; is there any
justification to disregard it? Indeed,
Shulchan Aruch makes no mention of
this requirement to wash immediately.
Bach (Orach Chaim 4:1) suggests that
the omission was to prevent intentional
violation, as the law would likely not be
kept in any event. In light of the Zohar's
strong language, however, others are
less comfortable with this suggestion
and provide reasons for why one need
not be concerned about this law at all.

Damesek Eliezer (page 326) suggests
that, like a number of other mystical
matters that are not applied in today's
world, ruach ra'ah is not a problem
regarding washing; one need not hurry
to wash or keep water close by out of
concern for the Zohar's statement.
Similarly, Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl
(notes to Mishnah Berurah 1:2) quotes
the Vilna Gaon as saying that after the
martyrdom of Graf Potocki (the famed
Ger Tzedek of Vilna) in 1749, ruach
ra'ah was no longer powerful enough
to mandate washing immediately upon
rising. [Of course, this latter
explanation would not address the
Shulchan Aruch' s much earlier
omission of the requirement for
immediate washing.]

From a more technical perspective,
Shevut Yaakov (3:1) notes that this
ruling is nowhere to be found in the
Talmud. In fact, we have indications
that immediate washing was not a
concern: In discussing a proper
morni ng routi ne, the Gemara
(Berachot 15a) mentions that one is to
relieve himself in the morning and only
then wash his hands. For virtually all
individuals, proper facilities were a
long distance away (see, for example
Shabbat 25b), making it likely that
this Zohar was not followed.

Perhaps most importantly, Birkei Yosef
notes that our standard editions of the
Zohar make no mention of this
warning at all. Although some versions
including the relevant passages have
been found, our editions could give
one reason to doubt this law's veracity.
At the very least, this would explain
Shulchan Aruch's omission.

In any event, it should be noted that in
much of the halachic literature, ruach
ra'ah is of general concern. While one
might not need to make great efforts in
removing it immediately, there are a
number of other halachot for which
mindfulness of ruach ra'ah's presence
is important. See Shulchan Aruch,
Orach Chaim 4 for more.
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Wednesday is the 14
of Kislev

In the fifth chapter of Shemuel II,
we learn that King David conquered
Jerusalem and made it into his
capital. Jerusalem continued to
serve as the capital of Judea for
centuries; even after its destruction,
Jews continued to see it as
embodying their aspirations to
return to Zion. Thus, it is little
wonder that not long after the
modern state of Israel stabilized, on
the fourteenth of Kislev 5710
(December 5 1949), Jerusalem was
declared as Israel's capital. This
declaration preceded, by five days, a
UN decision to make Jerusalem an
international city.

David Ben Gurion, the first Israeli
prime minster, explained Israel's
position in his speech:
"We see it as our duty to announce
that the Jewish Jerusalem is an
organic and inseparable part of
Israel, as it is an inseparable part of
Jewish history, Jewish belief and
our nation's soul We cannot even
think that the UN will try to uproot
Jerusalem from Israel, or to limit
Israeli sovereignty over it.

"Twice in our history we were
uprooted from Jerusalem only
after losing in cruel wars to stronger
and superior forces. Our bond to
Jerusalem is as deep as in the days
of Nebuchadnezzar and Titus
Flavius. When Jerusalem was
attacked, our youths risked their
lives for the sake of our holy capital
no less than our forefathers did in
the days of the first or second

Immediately after the declaration,
the Knesset and other government
i nsti tuti ons were moved to
Jerusalem. The UN plan for
Jerusalem was never realized, and
ei ghteen years l ater I srael
conquered, and later annexed, the
eastern part of the city.
Rabbi Yitzchak Arama was born in
Spain in 1420. After serving as head of a
rabbinical academy in Zamora, Spain,
he became a community teacher in
Tarragona. Later he served as the
community rabbi in Calatayud until he
was expelled with the rest of Spanish
Jewry in 1492. He then settled in
Naples, Italy, where he died in 1494.

Like many Spanish scholars of his time,
Rabbi Arama was a Talmudist; he
considered the study of Talmud to be
e xt r emel y i mpor t ant . He was
despondent when the community in
Tarragona was unable to financially
support his students, forcing him to
move on and leave those students

In addition to his focus on the Talmud,
Rabbi Arama was well versed in both
Jewish and secular philosophy. This
was especially important in medieval
Spain, where no community leader
would be respected without this
knowledge. He was well-versed in
Maimonidian philosophy, although he
did not always agree with all of its
positions. His thought was largely
influenced by the Zohar and Rabbi
Yehuda HaLevi, and this is evident in
his work.

Rabbi Arama wrote a prominent
commentary to the Torah, Akeidat
Yitzchak. His works were so influential
that the famous Chida wrote of him,
some 250 years later, All of the writings
of the orators drink from his faithful
[Introductory note: Rabbi Arama compares
the wickedness of Sdom (Bereishit 19) and
the story of Pilegesh bGivah (Shoftim 19),
attempting to figure out why Sdom was
destroyed and Givah was not.]

I am very surprised; is favoritism shown in
this matter? How were the men of Givah
(Shoftim 19) different from the men of Sdom,
that the latter were punished with harsh and
tough justice and the former were not
punished and the Jews were even punished
because of them!

The Ramban z"l argued on behalf of Givah
with many claims, to save them from [being
accused of] wickedness, but the simple
meaning of the texts equates the two groups
entirely. If the people of Sdom vanished from
the marketplace [and didnt invite the two
guests into their homes], also in Givah it is
written, "no one brought them home to
lodge". In Sdom no one gathered them in,
except for a foreign man who had come to
sojourn there, and in Givah it says, "Behold,
a man came from his work at evening, and
the man was from the mountain of Ephraim,
and he sojourned in Givah And he lifted up
his eyes, etc."

In Sdom it says, "Where are the men who
came to you tonight? Bring them out to us,
and let us be intimate with them." And in
Givah it says, "Bring out the man, so that we
may be intimate with him." And not only
that, but the men of Sdom did not actually
succeed in committing the sin and the men
of Givah sinned and were wicked, as they
had desired to be.

In truth, the sin of the daughter of my people
[Givah] is greater than the sin of Sdom, for
the people of Sdom were the first to sin, and
the people of Givah saw their corruption
recorded in the Torah and did not internalize
this lesson

In truth this was the [greater] sin of Sdom
and her daughters: They did not sin due to
desire alone, like a city that has laws and
good statutes but the people do not follow
them. Also, they were not a lawless city,
lacking any wall of law and proper conduct.
Rather, they were ruined in the extreme from
the start, creating bad and repugnant
This Week in
Israeli History
Kislev 14, 1949
The Capital
R Baruch Weintraub
Torah in Translation
True Corruption
Rabbi Yitzchak Arama

Akeidat Yitzchak, Bereishit 20
Translated by Adam Frieberg
decrees in place of laws and good
statutes, and establishing them with
fines and penalties lest they ever be
violated. In essence, they identified their
entire goal as guarding their property
with the height of protection. They chose
the trait of "What's mine is mine and
what's yours is yours" not as a trait
but as law, such that one who violated it
would die. This included, anyone who
benefited others, even one who did not
lose by benefiting others Establishing
this as law obligated them to go to the
greatest extreme in wickedness and
violent theft.
Biography: Rabbi Yitzchak Arama Adam Frieberg
Visit us at 3
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Author: YU/Torah miTzion Toronto Kollel
Title: Toronto Torah: Vayyetze 5773
Visit us at
4 We would like to thank for filming our shiurim!
Shabbat, November 24
7:45 AM R Baruch Weintraub, Reasons for mitzvot and
the parshah, Or Chaim not this week
9:30 AM Yair Manas, The special act of our mother
Rachel, Shaarei Shomayim
10:00 AM Hillel Horovitz, Rachel and Chana, Bnai Torah
10:20 AM R Baruch Weintraub, Parshah, Clanton Park
3:35 PM R Mordechai Torczyner, Daf Yomi, BAYT
After minchah R Mordechai Torczyner, Gemara Avodah
Zarah: Non-Jewish Doctors, BAYT
6:30 PM Parent-Child Learning: Visiting the Sick,
Shaarei Shomayim

Sunday, November 25
8:45 AM R Mordechai Torczyner, When Esav Met
Yaakov, Thornhill Community Shul with breakfast
9:15 AM Hillel Horovitz, Parshah, Zichron Yisroel,
Hebrew (Shacharit 8:30 AM)
9:45 AM Adam Frieberg, Why Change Now? VTen tal
umatar, Bnai Torah
After maariv R Baruch Weintraub, Contemporary
Halachah in Israel, Hebrew, Clanton Park, men
8:30 PM R Baruch Weintraub, Contemporary Halachah
in Israel, Hebrew, 4 Tillingham Keep, mixed

Monday, November 26
8-10 PM Monday night Beit Midrash at Bnai Torah
8 PM Hillel Horovitz, Shemuel II : Avshaloms Rebellion,
Bnai Torah
8 PM R Ezra Goldschmiedt, Mesilat Yesharim, Bnai Torah,
high school students
9 PM Hillel Horovitz, Writings of Rav Kook: Ein Ayah, Bnai
8-10 PM Monday night Beit Midrash at Clanton Park

Tuesday, November 27
1:30 PM R Mordechai Torczyner, Malachi 2: The Kohanim,
Shaarei Shomayim, Mekorot
7:30 PM Hillel Horovitz, Shemuel Bet: King Davids Period of
Glory, KST
8 PM Yair Manas, Chaburah: Sanhedrin, 33 Meadowbrook
8:30 PM R Baruch Weintraub, Rambams Laws of Kings:
Pilegesh, Shomrai Shabbos, men
8:45 PM R Ezra Goldschmiedt, Jewish Clothing
Controversies, Week 5, BAYT

Wednesday, November 28
10 AM R Mordechai Torczyner, Supernatural/Superstition,
Week 7: The Soul and Satan, BEBY, Melton
8 PM Roving Beit Midrash R Mordechai Torczyner, The
Religious Zionism of Menachem Begin, Shaarei Shomayim

Thursday, November 29
8:30 PM R Baruch Weintraub, Sotah, Clanton Park

Friday-Shabbat, November 30 - December 1
Shabbaton at Thornhill Community Shul
Highlights for November 24-30 / 10 Kislev - 16 Kislev
Our Haftorah: Hosheia 12:13 - 14:10 Rabbi Baruch Weintraub
Who is the prophet of our haftorah?
After the time of King Solomon, the
Jewish nation split into two kingdoms;
the southern kingdom was Yehudah,
and the northern kingdom was Yisrael.
Hosheia was active during the last
decades of Yisrael. These were days of
unstable independence for the
kingdom, as kings succeeded each
other quickly through rebellion and
murder, and the shadow of the empire
of Assyria began to appear.

The Talmud (Pesachim 87a) criticizes
Hosheia for not pleading to Hashem on
behalf of the nation. As a lesson,
Hashem commands him to marry a
woman who he knows will not be
faithful to him, and to conceive
children with her. Then G-d commands
him to divorce her, and Hosheia pleads
for his children's sake. Through this,
Hashem t eaches hi m t hat a
relationship has power and endurance,
even when one of the sides misbehaves.

The Talmud concludes that Hosheia
accepted the rebuke and repented.
Indeed, Hosheia is the source of one of
the most famous prophecies regarding
teshuvah,'Shuva Yisrael', which we
read on Shabbat Shuvah.

What is the message of our haftorah?
Our haftorah deals mainly with the
grievous sin of ignoring Hashem.
Hosheia describes vividly how G-d gave
Israel everything they have, and yet the
nation is immersed in idol worship, as
though the idols could benefit them.

The idols are of various types: religious
idols, as in the Baal, and human idols,
as in the king and his ministers, upon
whom the people rely. They do not even
understand, Hosheia cries, that this
very king was given to them by G-d as
an act of anger and distance. Further,
this king will be removed by an even
greater Divine anger, for he is
corrupting the people into believing that
he can help them.

The haftorah ends with a note of
t e shuvah t hat addr esse s t he
fundamental problem of national
distance from Gd, with a call to "Return
to HaShem" (Hosheia 14:2). The answer
to the stupefaction in which the people
are gripped is a pain that will break
through and wake them. After
stumbling, they will remember G-d and

What connects the haftorah with our
As with many other haftarot, the
connection to the parshah can be seen
on two levels. On one level, the haftorah
makes explicit mention of an event from
our parshah. As part of the historical
kindness that Hashem showed towards
us, Hosheia mentions that Yaakov was
impoverished and forced to flee his
home and then to work in order to
marry Rachel, and Hashem helped him
through. Despite this kindness,
Yaakov's descendants do not remember
and respect Hashem.

In addition, there may be another level
of connection between the parshah and
the haftorah. Right after mentioning
Yaakov's work, the haftorah cites
Hashems kindness in taking the Jewish
nation out of Egypt and tending to
them. There is a similarity between the
phrasing in the two passages; the
prophet seems to hint that Yaakovs
work for Rachel may be compared to the
work of Hashem's messenger to the
Jewish people. "Israel laboured for a
wife, and for a wife he tended. Through
a prophet Hashem brought up Israel
from Egypt, and through a prophet it
was tended." (ibid. 13:13-14)

Perhaps Hosheia hides a small
consolation in the middle of a harsh
rebuke. Yaakov worked for Rachel, and
when he was betrayed he worked
further. So, too, Hashem, even when
betrayed - G-d forbid - by us, will not
neglect us.
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Author: YU/Torah miTzion Toronto Kollel
Title: Toronto Torah: Vayyetze 5773
Towards the end of the parsha we read of Yaakov gathering a bunch of stones. We then read: "Yaakov said
to his brethren: 'gather stones!' So they took stones and made a mound, and they ate there on the mound.
Lavan called it Yegar Sahadua, but Yaakov called it Galed" (Bereishis 31:46-47). The names given by
Yaakov and Lavan have the same meaning, the only difference is that Yaakov used the Hebrew name while
Lavan used the Aramaic version. For the twenty years Yaakov lived in Lavan's house they presumably spoke
Aramaic (perhaps not within Yaakov's family but certainly between them and Lavan), yet the Torah records
these conversations in loshon hakodesh, why did the Torah bother to inform us of the Aramaic name given to
this pile of stones by Lavan?

Other conversations are recorded in loshon hakodesh such as between Yosef and Pharaoh. Presumably they
too spoke in Egyptian. The Torah is teaching us that after twenty years in Aram, Yaakov was certainly quite
well-versed in the local tongue. Yet he remained steadfast in his use and understanding of loshon hakodesh.

Chazal teach us that one of the reasons the Jewish nation merited the redemption from Egypt was not having
changed their language - presumably they spoke Egyptian to the goyim, but to each other they most likely
remained with loshon hakodesh. This is one of the interpretations of the pasuk we recite in Hallel: "betzei
Yisrael miMitzrayim beis Yaakov me-am loez" "When Israel went out of Egypt, Yaakov's household from a
people of alien tongue" (Tehillim 114:1) - that they spoke loshon hakodesh while the Egyptians spoke
Egyptian. Rashi in fact comments on Yosef's revealing his identity to his brothers, "Behold your eyes see ...
that it is my mouth speaking to you" (Bereishis 45:13) that he was showing them that he was able to speak
loshon hakodesh. Until now he had been speaking to them in Egyptian, while now he showed that he was
able to speak loshon hakodesh.

The Rambam has an interesting comment in his Perush HaMishnayos on Pirke Avos - many believe that
poems and songs in Hebrew are automatically acceptable while in other languages such as Arabic they are
not. The Rambam writes that this is not the case - if they contain wisdom then they are acceptable in any
language, if they are filled with nonsense then it is not acceptable even in loshon hakodesh. In fact while
wisdom and yiras Shamayim it acceptable in other languages, there is more kedusha when it is written
b'loshon hakodesh. On the other hand, nonsensical and heretical writing is not acceptable in any language
and is an even more grave infraction when in loshon hakodesh. Loshon hakodesh imbues sanctity into that
which is already holy while it has an extra negative effect on that which is not holy.
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Author: HaRav Avigdor Nebenzahl
Title: What's in a Name, Place, and Time?

The same may be said regarding other gifts which Hashem gave us - holy places and sanctified times. Eretz
Yisrael is our holy land, while He also gave us the holy site of the Har HaBayis. When used for sanctity then
they have a positive effect on us, when used for unholy acts then it actually poses a danger for us. The Torah
specifically warns us at the end of Parshas Acharei Mos that if we do not act properly while in Eretz Yisrael,
then the Land will spit us out. Rav and Shmuel were on a much higher level in Bavel than the wicked Titus
was in the Kodesh HaKodoshim.

The same may be said regarding holy times - Shabbos, Yom Kippur, and other times are gifts from
HaKadosh Baruch but only when used properly. When Shabbos is observed then we are imbued with
holiness, while one who desecrates the Shabbos is punishable with death by stoning. One who desecrates
Yom Kippur is punished by Kareis. When used properly they are gifts, when misused they can pose great

During the period of the Chashmonaim the Greeks made several decrees trying to force us to leave the ways
of Torah, as we say in al hanissim "lehashkicham Torasecha ulehaaviram mechukei retzonecha". Prior to that
time, an event occurred for which Chazal decreed a fast and that is that the Torah was translated into Greek
by the decree of King Ptolemy of Egypt. He asked that seventy-two Sages sit in seventy-two different rooms
(remember there were no cellular phones in those days), and they each translate the Torah. Hashem made a
miracle and they all wrote precisely the same interpretation and altered things which could conceivably been
dangerous for the Jewish nation had the other nations of the world read it.

With all said and done, even after this great miracle, Chazal decreed a fast day to commemorate this event.
This fast day is actually mentioned in the Ashkenazi Selichos for Asara B'Teves. What is wrong with
translating the Torah? The downside of it is that much of the understanding of the Torah is based on nuances
in language, gimmatrias, roshei tevos, and more. Rather than learning loshon hakodesh the people studied
Greek. Many years later the maskilim translated the Torah into German. Our first reaction may be that this
could be viewed positively, after all those who were not so well-versed in the Hebrew language. However,
this was not their aim during what is known as the period of the Enlightenment. Their aim was for the people
to forget loshon hakodesh and to rather concentrate on learning German. They may have had access to the
Written Torah but they were no longer able to learn Mishna and Gemara. The tefillos were converted into
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Author: HaRav Avigdor Nebenzahl
Title: What's in a Name, Place, and Time?
English, omitting any mention of Zion and Jerusalem - Berlin is our Jerusalem.

Today's movement to translate Torah into English can hardly be viewed from the same perspective. After all
we have English translations of Shas and other books. A person can learn Gemara, mussar, and much more in
English. With all this said and done, there is greater sanctity to that which is written in loshon hakodesh. I
would like to point out that tefillos should remain in loshon hakodesh and should not be said in foreign

Chazal accepted this translation as the beauty of Yefes dwelling in the Tents of Shem. Today we are not
well-versed in ancient Greek and therefore would not be permitted to write a Sefer Torah in Greek.

Greek culture was known to emphasize external beauty. The Torah may place value on beauty, after all
Chazal derive from the pasuk "zeh Keli ve-anvehu" "this is my G-d and I will beautify Him" that our mitzvos
should be made with beauty. We should have beautiful sifrei Torah, tzitizis, tefillin, and much more.
However it is what's inside that counts. The internal beauty, however, has far greater significance than the
external internal beauty.

We commemorate our victory over the Greeks by lighting the Chanukah Menorah for eight days. This
celebrates the finding of the pure oil and the fact it remained lit for eight days. I would like to pose a very
simple question. To properly fulfill the mitzvah of kindling the Menorah in the Beis HaMikdash two things
were lacking - pure uncontaminated oil and the Golden Menorah. Hashem provided us with the miracle of
finding pure oil but He did not provide us with the Golden Menorah, they ended up lighting a Menorah made
of iron.

p. 60
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Author: HaRav Avigdor Nebenzahl
Title: What's in a Name, Place, and Time?
Why did Hashem provide us with former miracle but not with the latter? I believe that Hashem desired to
send us the following message: Emphasis should be made on the internal side of things and less so on
externality. Physical beauty in mitzvos is importance, but the internal beauty is of greater significance. Any
person, even a goy, can distinguish between Menorahs made from different materials, while even a Jew
cannot take a look at oil and determine whether it is pure or impure. The purity of the oil was of greater
significance than what the Menorah was made from.

The Rav (HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach) zt"l felt that the idea of have festive meals on
Chanukah is not to commemorate the miracle of the oil, for that we have the mitzvah of kindling the
Chanukah Menorah. Our feasts are to celebrate the victory over the Greeks that now we are able to learn
Torah and observe mitzvos such as Shabbos and bris milah.

During the later years of the period of the second Beis HaMikdash, following the Chanukah miracle, the
people placed great emphasis over laws of tum'ah and tahara. This was the result of the miracle of the
Chashmonaim finding pure oil. As praiseworthy as this may sound, their approach was misguided - their
emphasis was totally out of proportion. Purity in mitzvos was treated with greater importance than the basics
of other mitzvosh. It is said that they were more machmir in the tahara of their food than in shfichus damim
(the spilling of blood). This of course is not the ways of the Torah - human life has far greater importance.

What we should learn from the miracles of Chanukah, where emphasis was place on the purity of the oil, to
purify our minds, our souls, our eyes, and our speech - whether loshon hakodesh or any other language.
p. 61
Download thousands of shiurim and articles for free at the Marcos and Adina Katz is a project of Yeshiva University's Center for the Jewish Future
Author: HaRav Avigdor Nebenzahl
Title: What's in a Name, Place, and Time?