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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 28, v. 16: "Ochein yeish Hashem bamokom ha'zeh " - Indeed there is Hashem in this place - One of the titles given to Hashem is that of "Mokom," as explained in the gemara, that Hashem is the location of the world and not that the world is the location of Hashem. When we take the numerical values of the four letters of Hashem's Holy Name Y-H-V-H and square them we have the same value as Mokom, 186. (Shomati)

Ch. 30, v. 6: "Va'yiten li bein" - And He has given me a son - We do not find Rochel expressing herself this way when her maidservant Bilhoh gave birth to a second son, nor do we find this by either birth of Leah's maidservant Zilpoh. Toldos Yitzchok explains that since Rochel had no children at this point in time, her maidservant's giving birth to a son whom Rochel would nurture was considered to her as her own son. She did not have the same warm feelings with the second son. Similarly, Leah, who already had numerous sons didn't feel such an affinity for even the first child born to her maidservant.

Ch. 30, v. 7: "Vatahar ode va'tei'led Bilhoh" - And she conceived again and Bilhoh gave birth - In verse 5 we have these two points expressed in a different order, "Vatahar Bilhoh va'tei'led." Why is the name Bilhoh placed between the conception and the birth in verse 5, while here her name is placed after both the conception and the birth?

Ch. 30, v. 7: "Bilhoh shifchas Rochel" - Bilhoh Rochel's maidservant - Although both Bilhoh and Zilpoh were emancipated before they conceived, they are given the appellation of "shifchoh" to stress their total subservience to their mistresses, that even after being emancipated, and even after they gave birth, and in particular Rochel's maidservant had a child and Rochel did not, they were nevertheless just as subservient as before. (Rabbeinu Menachem)

Ch. 30, v. 7: "Bilhoh shifchas Rochel" - Bilhoh Rochel's maidservant - In verse 5, by her first birth, Bilhoh is not described as Rochel's maidservant. When this scenario repeats itself with Zilpoh we find that she is called "shifchas Leah" both by the first birth (verse 10) and by the second birth (verse 12). By Bilhoh we have "vatahar ODE," while by Zilpoh's second conception we do not have the word ODE. Why these differences?

An answer to part of the former question is given by Rabbi Moshe Hadarshon. He says that the birth of Bilhoh's first son was in her own merit, hence no "shifchas Rochel," while the birth of her second son was totally in the merit of Rochel, hence "shifchas Rochel."

Ch. 30, v. 18: "Yiso(s)chor" - Why is there an extra letter Sin in this name which is not pronounced? This alludes to the final mishnoh in maseches Okotzin, which says that every righteous person will inherit 310 worlds as his reward. Actually a person who has fulfilled all 613 mitzvos and the 7 mitzvos that are Rabbinically ordained should receive 620 worlds as his reward. Since in the main a righteous person whose pursuits are totally spiritual requires physical sustenance from others, he must split his reward with his supporters, hence he receives only 310 worlds, half of 620. Indeed, if a tzadik is self-supporting he will receive 620 worlds as his reward. Through Divine inspiration Leah knew that Yisochor would pursue his Torah studies only with the support of Zevulun. She therefore gave him the name Yiso(s)chor with two letters Sin, indicting that he will have the reward (sochor) of 310 (Yud-Sin) worlds only. (Imrei Shefer)

Ch. 31, v. 17,18: "Va'yiso es bonov v'es noshov, Va'yinhag es es kol mikneihu v'es kol r'chusho" - And he lifted his sons and his wives, And he guided all his cattle and all his possessions - Why not simply combine all the people and items he moved and say, "Va'yiso es bonov v'es noshov v'es kol mikneihu v'es kol r'chusho?" The Divrei Yisroel of Modzitz answers that the verse is teaching us that Yaakov did not pursue his livelihood in a manner that he was subservient to it. He guided his possessions and his possessions did not master over him.

On a simple level it seems that we cannot combine the two, as "va'yiso" means that he elevated them, referring only to the people whom he placed onto the camels, while his livestock simply walked on their own.

Ch. 31, v. 17: "Es bonov v'es noshov" - His sons and his wives - Rashi comments that Yaakov behaved quite differently from Eisov. Yaakov first tended to his sons, the males, and only afterwards to his wives, the females. Eisov, on the other hand, gave a priority to the females, as is recorded in Breishis 36:6. In Breishis 7:7 we find, "Va'yovo Noach uvonov v'ishto unshei vonov." Rashi comments that the men and women were segregated, indicating a prohibition to cohabit. What is the proof? Perhaps he was on the level of Yaakov, who gave a priority to males.

Ch. 31, v. 30,31: "Lomoh gonavto es elohoy, Ki omarti pen tigzole es bnosecho mei'imi" - Why have you stolen my gods, Because I said that you might steal your daughters from me - The Ibn Ezra explains that Rochel stole her father's "trofim" because they could be used to supernaturally give him information, in this case which path Yaakov and his entourage had taken when they ran away, and this would endanger them. However, it seems that this ploy is not necessary as Yaakov was returning to his father, and as such, would be going to fulfill the mitzvoh of honouring his father. No harm befalls a person who is on his way to perform a mitzvoh (gemara Psochim 8a). However, this would only serve as a protection for Yaakov but not his family. We can say that this was the conversation between Lovon and Yaakov: Why have you stolen my gods, as you would have been protected in any case as a "shliach mitzvoh," as you are "nichsof nich'safto l'veis ovicho." Yaakov responded that he feared "pen tigzole es bnosecho mei'imi," and they would not be protected. (Rabbi Zvi Charif)

Ch. 31, v. 35: "Ki lo uchal lokum mipo'necho ki derech noshim li" - Because I cannot rise because the manner of women I am experiencing - This seems to be an outright lie. Medrash Tanchuma #12 says that the "trofim" were used for magic. Rashi on the words "M'chasheifoh lo s'chayeh" (Shmos 22:17) writes that the intention of the verse is not specifically a woman magician, but also a male magician. The reason the verse expresses itself in the female form is because "Di'beir hakosuv b'hoveh," the verse expresses itself in the prevalent manner (magicians are usually women). This was Rochel's intention in choosing these words. They allowed for an understanding that she was menstruating, but also that she was involved with a matter that is "derech noshim," prevalent by women, "trofim" used for magic. (Birkas Tov)

Ch. 31, v. 35: "Derech noshim" - The manner of women - Her claim of menstruating is expressed as "DERECH noshim," while by Soroh it is called "ORACH kanoshim." This difference is explained by Tosfos Hasholeim. Rochel was a young woman, and at this stage of life menstruating is a regular happening, hence "derech." Soroh was an old lady who miraculously had her fountain of youth returned. This is an "orach," a guest.

Ch. 31, v. 35: "Derech noshim" - The manner of women - Although as explained above, this was not an outright lie, nevertheless there was a bit of stretching of the truth here. Baalei Tosfos explain that one of the reasons Rochel was not brought to burial in a regular cemetery was because she died in childbirth and if she would have been transported her body would have discharged much afterbirth blood, a most unpleasant and embarrassing situation. Possibly, this was atonement for her saying that she was menstruating when she really was not. (n.l.)

Ch. 32, v. 1: "Va'yoshov Lovon limkomo" - And Lovon returned to his place - Medrash Tanchuma explains that when Lovon was away from home pursuing Yaakov, his family, and possessions, thieves came and stole Lovon's property, leaving him the same pauper that he was when Yaakov came to him at the beginning of their relationship. "Limkomo" means to his former financial status.



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

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