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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 28, v. 10: "Va'yeitzei Yaakov" - And Yaakov left - As pointed out by the Baal Haturim, this parsha has no paragraph breaks, neither in the form of "p'suchoh," open breaks, nor in the form of "s'sumoh," closed breaks. Tosfos Hasho'leim explains that although Rashi at the beginning of parshas Va'yichi questions why it is "s'sumoh," closed with no space, and does not ask the same question here, it is simply because over there there is no space between the previous sedrah and Va'yichi, while here there is a paragraph space between the previous sedrah and ours. He goes on to say that in spite of not having any paragraph spaces we still break up the parsha into separate "aliyos" since we know from the gemara Yerushalmi Megiloh that they completed reading the Torah in a three year cycle. I understand this to mean that it is obvious that if the Torah reading is completed in three years that they would not have read this lengthy parsha, 148 verses long, in one go, while breaking up some quite short parshios into three. The question raised by Tosfos seems a bit difficult to understand. Although our parsha has no paragraph spaces, why would I entertain the idea of having only one "aliyoh" for all of Va'yeitzei (and obviously having a larger sedrah to allow for the 7 "aliyos")? Don't we often break the reading with "aliyos" that are not at a paragraph space? Perhaps we might have thought that we may do that in a sedrah that has paragraph spaces, but not in a sedrah that has absolutely no breaks.

In any case, Tosfos says that the "bnei Maarovo," those who lived in Eretz Yisroel, broke up our sedrah. This seems to contradict what I heard from MVRHRH"G R' Yaakov Kamenecki zt"l. Tosfos on the gemara M'nochos 32a d.h. "v'ho'idno" writes that he found in "Siddur haKadmonim" that besides the two forms of paragraph spaces "p'suchoh" and "s'sumoh" there is a third spacing called "s'duroh." He and the Rosh write that this is a blank space from the end of a word somewhere in the middle of a line that stretches into the next line until and including the last written letter in the line above. Writing begins again directly below where the space above began. The Beis Yoseif writes that this is another type of "s'sumoh" spacing. It remains to be explained why there is a need for two types of "s'sumoh." Rabbi Kamenecki zt"l told me that he believes that this is a spacing that indicated a break for the end of a sedrah according to the custom of "bnei Maarovo." According to the Tosfos mentioned earlier it seems that a sedrah ended even when there was no paragraph space at all. By the way, in our Sifrei Torah we do not find "s'duroh" spacing. If anyone has information on this matter please advise.

Ch. 28, v. 10: "Va'yeitzei Yaakov miB'eir Shova" - And Yaakov left from B'eir Sheva - The Yalkut Shimoni says that Yaakov received his blessings from Yitzchok in Chevron, the city in which Yitzchok resided. We see that at the end of Yitzchok's life he resided there, as per Breishis 35:27, where Yaakov came back to his father in Chevron. If so, what is the meaning of "and Yaakov left from B'eir Sheva"?

Although Yaakov was advised by both his father and mother to leave Eretz Yisroel, nevertheless, he was uncomfortable with leaving without first hearing from Hashem that he should do so. His father Yitzchok asked of Hashem whether he himself should leave Eretz Yisroel, and this took place in B'eir Sheva, as per 26:1,2, where in Nachal Gror Hashem told him not to leave. B'eir Sheva is in Nachal Gror, so Yaakov went there too and received an affirmative answer from Hashem. (M.R. 68:6, Rabbeinu Bachyei)

Ch. 28, v. 11: "Va'yishkav bamokome hahu" - And he lied down in that place - This verse already says "va'yo'len shom," that he slept there. "Va'yishkav" means that he didn't simply fall asleep out of exhaustion, as was the case during his 14 years of study in Yeshivas Eiver, but that he made preparations for his sleeping accommodations and lied down. (Mei'am Lo'eiz)

This great level of learning Torah with such enthusiasm that one learns until his powers are totally spent and falls asleep is not limited to the Torah greats of numerous millennia in the past. It is told of the two holy brothers, Rebbe Reb Zisha and Rebbe Reb Elimelech that they were learning Torah next to each other. Rebbe Reb Zisha learned for many consecutive hours until he had no strength left and just before his head hit the table he took his hat off his head and placed it under his head as a pillow. (We have the custom to not use clothing as a pillow.) When he later awoke his brother chastised him, saying that if he had enough presence of mind to remove his hat and use it as a pillow, he should have instead learned for another few seconds! It is told of the Chazon Ish that he once fainted on his way to the bookshelf when in the middle of learning. When he came to he explained that there was nothing to be concerned with, as he learned until he simply had no more strength. He thought that he could still push a bit more and this time miscalculated and had simply fallen asleep while on his way to fetch a sefer.

Ch. 28, v. 12: "Va'yachalome" - And he dreamt - Rabbeinu Bachyei writes that this was not a dream, similar to that of Paroh, since the verse does not write afterwards that he awoke and behold it was a dream, as written by Paroh (Breishis 41:7). Rather it was a prophetic experience.

Nevertheless, the Torah expresses this as a dream, indicating that it was a lower-level communication than at other times where it is written that Hashem appeared to Yaakov. The Holy Zohar page 149b writes that this is because Yaakov at this point in time was not married. Thus in 35:9 and 46:2 where Hashem communicates with Yaakov after he was married it does not mention that it was in a dream. He explains that in 31:10 there is an exception, with Hashem appearing in a dream even though Yaakov was already married, because it took place among heathens outside Eretz Yisroel. An explanation for 31:3 would be appreciated.

Ch. 28, v. 18: "Va'yikach es ho'evven asher som m'raashosov va'yo'sem osoh matzeivoh" - And he took the stone that he placed at his head and he set it as an altar - Although the gemara Z'vochim 116b says that an object that was used by a person may not be used for an altar, however the gemara also says that this is only regarding a "mizbei'ach," a multi-stone construction. A "bomoh," a single stone altar, may be a stone that was already used by a person. The "matzeivoh" of our verse was a single stone altar. (Tur)

Ch. 30, v. 37,38: "Va'y'fatzeil bo'hen p'tzolos l'vonos mach'sof halovon, Va'yatzeig es hamaklos asher pitzeil borhotim b'shikasos hamoyim" - And he peeled their bark exposing their whiteness, And he stuck the rods that he peeled into the water troughs - In our Hoshanoh Raboh prayers in the paragraph beginning with the words "Taa'neh emunim" we mention the merit of Yaakov's peeling sticks of wood and placing them into water troughs, "Taa'neh cholok m'fatzeil maklos b'shikasos hamayim," as mentioned in our verses. What merit is there for us, Yaakov's descendants from this, and isn't this seemingly a conniving act, totally out of character for Yaakov, the paradigm of truth?

Hashem had promised Yaakov that he would leave Lovon with a vast amount of cattle, but specifically spotted, banded, etc., as conveyed to him by an angel (31:11,12). Having so many of Lovon's cattle give birth to spotted, etc., offspring was clearly a miracle. Benefiting from miracles is prohibited as per the gemara Taanis 24. As well, the gemara Shabbos 32a says that even if one merits a miracle it is at a great cost, because it is deducted from his merits. The MR. says that the merits retained by a righteous person by not having miracles take place on his account are passed on to later generations.

Armed with these points we can now say the fllowing: Lovon lost nothing through Yaakov's act, as Hashem promised him cattle from Lovon's flock. Had Yaakov sat back and done nothing the animals would still have reproduced spotted, etc., offspring. Yaakov's peeling the bark off sticks and placing them into the cattle's water trough, thus psychologically affecting the animals to have striped, etc., offspring brought it into the realm of the natural. Thus he did not use up his merits by benefiting from a miracle. In turn this leaves over merits for his descendants, and this is the merit we mention in our Hoshanoh Raboh prayer. (Chamudei Zvi)

Ch. 31, v. 28: "L'nasheik l'vonai v'livnosoi" - To kiss by sons and daughters - This is the common translation of these words. However, the Chizkuni translates "l'nasheik" as "to supply their needs for clothing and other objects," as per T'hilim 2:12, "Nashku var."



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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