OROH V'SIMCHOH - MESHECH CHOCHMOH ON PARSHAS VA'YEITZEI - BS"D
Ch. 28, v. 18: "Va'yikach es ho'evven asher som m'raashosov va'yo'sem osoh MATZEIVOH" - Rashi on Dvorim 16:22 d.h. "asher" says that a "matzeivoh" is a one stone altar, while a "mizbei'ach" is made of numerous stones. The MESHECH CHOCHMOH says that Yaakov was particular to sanctify a "matzeivoh" altar and not a mizbei'ach altar so that idol worshippers would not use it afterwards. There was no fear in Avrohom's days of their using a single stone altar as per Rashi on Dvorim 16:22 (Sifri piska #146) that a "matzeivoh was not used by idol worshipper in the days of the Patriarchs, and the reason that the bnei Yisroel were later prohibited to build a "matzeivoh" was that the idol worshippers copied our Patriarchs and instituted the use of a one stone altar only, so we should not emulate them. The MESHECH CHOCHMOH adds that Yaakov awoke at night as indicated by verse 16 and our verse, and yet waited until the morning before setting the stone as an altar, because through his actions Yaakov was doing the spiritual groundbreaking, "maa'seh ovose siman labonim," of sanctifying this place as the future site of the Beis Hamikdosh, as is explained in the Sifri Dvorim piska #354. The Beis Hamikdosh may not be built at night, as per the gemara Shvuos 15b that derives this from "u'v'YOM hokim es haMishkon" (Bmidbar 9:15).
On a most simple level, we can say that Yaakov preferred to take the stones that had experienced Heavenly intervention, as the many stones he placed around his head became one, as pointed out by Rashi in verse 11 d.h. "va'yo'sem." Since they fused and became one stone, it was a "matzeivoh" and not a "mizbei'ach."
Ch. 29, v. 35: "Hapaam odeh es Hashem" - Rashi (M.R. 71:6) says that after the birth of her fourth son, Leah found it appropriate to offer special thanks to Hashem for bestowing upon her the merit to give birth to four sons. Since Yaakov had four wives and it was known to them that he would have 12 sons, if his wives would equally give birth to these 12 sons, each would have 3 sons. Now that Leah gave birth to a fourth son, more that her portion, she gave special thanks to Hashem.
The MESHECH CHOCHMOH in a homiletic manner explains that we do not make a blessing on three of our senses, sight, hearing, and touch. However, the gemara Brochos 43b derives from the words "Kole hanshomoh t'halleil Koh" (T'hilim 150:6) that we make a blessing when we SMELL fragrant objects. Thus upon the birth of Reuvein, whose name is based on "seeing" (verse 32), of Shimon, whose name is based on "hearing" (verse 33), and of Levi, whose name is based on "touching" (verse 34 as per Targum Onkeles on the word "yilo'veh," "yis'chabar") there was no blessing of Hashem. Yehudoh is the patriarch of the kingly tribe from whom Melech Hamoshiach will come, about whom the verse says, "VAHARICHO b'yiras Hashem" (Yeshayohu 11:3), - and he (Melech Hamoshiach) will be able to judge by SMELL.
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