Torah Tidbits

2 September 2014 / 7 Elul 5774
Issue 1020
Shabbat Parshat Vayeitzei
November 22, 2012

Aliya-by-Aliya Sedra Summary

Aliya by Aliya Sedra Summary

[P> X:Y (Z)] and [S> X:Y (Z)] indicate start of a parsha p’tucha or s’tuma. X:Y is Perek:Pasuk of the beginning of the parsha; (Z) is the number of p’sukim in the parsha.

Kohen - First Aliya 13 p’sukim - 28:10-22
[S> 28:10 (148)] Yaakov leaves Be’er Sheva and goes to Haran.
SDT: There are different explanations concerning the wording of this pasuk. As to why the Torah mentions Yaakov’s departure (especially having mentioned it a couple of times at the end of Toldot), Rashi explains that a prominent person not only influences his surroundings, but his absence from a place is also felt, in a negative way. Therefore, the Torah not only tells us that Yaakov went to Haran; it also tells us that he left Be’er Sheva, and his absence was felt - even though Yitzchak (and Rivka) remained there. (Perhaps, especially because Yitzchak and Rivka remained in Be’er Sheva - they would feel Yaakov’s absence the most!)
Another explanation - In leaving Be’er Sheva, Yaakov was fulfilling the wishes of his mother Rivka, who feared that Eisav would kill Yaakov if he remained. In going to Haran, Yaakov was fulfilling the wishes of his father, Yitzchak (and also his mother’s), who sent him there to find a suitable wife. The pasuk tells us of Yaakov’s departure from Be’er Sheva AND his journey to Haran, to show us that it was important to satisfy the wishes of BOTH his parents. (Rivka did not tell Yitzchak about the danger to Yaakov if he were to remain home.)
He encounters “The Place” (it is unidentified in the text, but is traditionally considered to be Har Moriah, the site of the Akeida, and the location of the future Beit HaMikdash - see Rabbi Goldin’s piece on pp.49-50) and stays the night. He dreams of a ladder with its feet planted on the ground and whose top reaches the heavens. Angels are ascending and descending the ladder.
SDT: The S’fat Emet points out that the ladder in Yaakov’s dream is described first as having its feet planted on the ground (representing worldliness and/or basic decency) and then its head reaching the heavens (representing spiritual pursuits). This is consistent with the famous maxim from Pirkei Avot - Derech Eretz Kodma laTorah, worldliness (should) precedes Torah.
SDT: What Yaakov saw in the dream represents the “Changing of the Guard”. Angels that accompanied Yaakov in Eretz Yisrael are not the same as those outside Israel, just as Shabbat angels differ from those of weekdays. Our weekly counterpart to Yaakov’s dream is the Friday night song Shalom Aleichem, which refers to the changing of the angels. (Note that in Shalom Aleichem, we greet the Shabbat angels before saying farewell to the weekday angels. This gives us an overlap of angels rather than an angel-less gap. In Yaakov’s dream, the angels are spoken of as ascending and descending, leaving a momentary gap. Commentaries point out that G-d was “standing watch” over Yaakov from the top of the ladder because there was a gap between the ascension of the angels and the descending of the new ones - OLIM (and then) V’YORDIM BO.
SDT: A person should realize that wealth is not permanent; it can be lost as easily as it is gained. Therefore, if one is blessed with wealth, he should use it wisely, constructively, charitably. This idea is symbolized by the ladder, and the ups and downs that take place on it - the SULAM, with the angels OLIM V’YORDIM BO. SULAM (ladder) is numerically 60 + 6 + 30 + 40 = 136. MAMON (money) is also 40+40+6+ 50=136. And so is ONI (poverty) 70+6+50+10=136.
More… KOL, voice (prayer) and TZOM, fasting are also equal to 136, perhaps saying that prayer and petition of G-d can be effective in resulting in a blessing of wealth rather than one’s being poor.
In the dream, G-d appears to Yaakov at the head of the ladder and reiterates to him the promises He made to Avraham and Yitzchak. These oft-repeated promises have consistently included the posses- sion of the Land and the “countless” nature of their descendants. This prophecy also includes G-d’s promise of protection for Yaakov on his sojourn.
Yaakov awakens from his sleep and acknowledges the sanctity of the Place. When Yaakov awakens in the morning, he takes the stone (formerly referred to in the plural) that was at his head, and erects it as a monument, which he then anoints. He names the place Beit El. Yaakov vows allegiance to G-d.
SDT: Shulchan Aruch, based on Midrash, says that a person can (should?) take a vow or make a pledge to increase and enhance performance of mitzvot and giving of tzedaka during troubled times. The precedent for this is Yaakov’s vows at this “low point” in his life. This is notwithstanding the recommendation to avoid taking vows. Tzedaka is different.
SDT: “And I will return to my father’s home and HaShem will be for me, G-d.” Ramban explains the connection between Yaakov’s return home with his “acquisition of G-d”. The Gemara in Ketuvot states that he who lives in Eretz Yisrael is like one who has G-d; he who lives outside Israel is like one without G-d. Yaakov’s return from Lavan’s house to his father’s was a physical and spiritual Aliya - as is Aliya to Eretz Yisrael in our own time.
Let’s say that again in a clear way as an important “reminder” and gentle nudge to Jews not yet living in Eretz Yisrael. And Chizuk for the rest of us.
Avraham Avinu was born in Chutz LaAretz and was commanded by G-d to go and live in Eretz Yisrael, the land that he and his descendants would receive from G-d in perpetuity.
Yitzchak Avinu was born and raised in Eretz Yisrael, lived here all his life, never having stepped foot outside the Land, and was “reminded” of that fact by G-d, when Yitzchak might have left because of a famine (as did his father).
Yaakov Avinu was born in Eretz Yisrael and left the land for an extended time. In Parshat Vayishlach, we find his returning to Eretz Yisrael is both a physical return and a spiritual one.
Jews - as far as Eretz Yisrael is concerned - have one of three role models to emulate. You are either born in Israel and live your whole life here. Or you come on Aliya from the place of your birth, or - if you were born in Israel (or lived here at one time) and left to live elsewhere, you work your way back to Eretz Yisrael.
And the Gemara/Rambam’s point: Coming on Aliya is not just a mitzva, it is the way a G-dless person acquires G-d for himself.

Levi - Second Aliya 17 p’sukim - 29:1-17
Assured of G-d’s protection upon leaving the Land (something Yaakov had reason to be unsure of), his pace quickens. He sees a well in a field, with three flocks of sheep gathered around. The well is covered by a large rock. It was the practice of the shepherds to gather at the same time each day so that they would have the manpower necessary to remove the rock and then replace it after the sheep drank. (This, to prevent water from being stolen by one shepherd or another.) Yaakov asks the shepherds who they are and why they gather so early in the afternoon to water their sheep.
When they tell him that they work for Lavan, Yaakov asks about his wellbeing. The shepherds point out the approaching Rachel, daughter of Lavan. They explain to Yaakov that they must cooperate with each other in order to physically remove the stone from the well. Just then, Yaakov sees Rachel, his cousin, and approaches the rock and single-handedly removes it from the mouth of the well in order to give water to his uncle’s sheep. Yaakov kisses Rachel and weeps bitterly. (He weeps because he sees with Ru’ach HaKodesh that they are destined not to be buried together.)
Yaakov tells Rachel who he is - what their relationship is - she runs off to tell her father. When Lavan hears, he runs to welcome Yaakov, and brings him home to hear “the whole story”. Lavan “offers” Yaakov a job and tells him “to name his price”. Lavan had two daughters - Leah, the older one and Rachel, the younger one. Leah had “weak” (sensitive) eyes and Rachel was very beautiful.
SDT: Commentaries note that Lavan is identified as ben Nachor, who was his grandfather - B’tu’el was his father. One explanation is that B’tu’el was a wicked person and his name is bypassed, so to speak, in identifying Lavan. Another explanation is that Nachor was well-known, and not B’tu’el, so the shepherds identified Lavan as ben Nachor, assuming that this visitor (Yaakov) would know of the family. One halachic ramification of the first opinion is the practice of the way we call to the Torah a person born of a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father - namely, Ploni ben the name of his mother’s father. This situation is not exactly the same, but is based on the same kind of idea.

Shlishi - Third Aliya 31 p’sukim - 29:18-30:13
Yaakov loves Rachel and offers to work for seven years in exchange for her hand in marriage. Lavan agrees and the time flies by in Yaakov’s eyes because of his great excitement. At the end of the seven years, Yaakov asks that the marriage take place.
Lavan gathers the locals for the wedding festivities and substitutes Leah for Rachel (with, we are taught, the consent of the girls).
SDT: Although Lavan was the deceiver, and had his own motives, our Sources indicate that it was Rachel who facilitated the switch, motivated by love and compassion for her sister. Rachel gave her private “signals” to Leah to save her from a probable marriage to Eisav, Yitzchak’s biological elder. This compassion serves her descendants well many years later, when she “intercedes” before G-d following the destruction of the Beit HaMik- dash. Tradition tells us that G-d “softened” the punishment with a promise of our return, only after Rachel pleaded before Him. According to Tradition, the Avot and Moshe Rabeinu had not succeeded in their pleas on behalf of the people. There was also “knowledge” via some kind of RU’ACH HAKODESH, that was given to Rachel and Leah that “The Tribes of G-d” were to come from more than just Rachel.
When Yaakov confronts Lavan about the deceit, Lavan says that it is improper to marry off the younger before the older. (This is the minhag in many communities, despite its Lavanic origin.)
Yaakov agrees to work an additional seven years for Rachel. Zilpa and Bilha are the handmaidens of Leah and Rachel respectively (commentaries say they too were daughters of Lavan, from a pilegesh - there are other opinions as to who exactly they were, including a Midrash that says they were nieces of Devora, Rivka’s nursemaid). Yaakov showed his obviously greater love of Rachel. As a result, G-d made Leah fertile and Rachel barren.
Next the Torah tells us, in rapid succession, of the births of Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Yehuda. Leah names each son (Levi was named by Yaakov or perhaps by an angel) with a name that expresses her thanks to G-d and her feelings under the unusual circumstances of her life.
Rachel, jealous of Leah, complains to Yaakov that she has no children. Yaakov gets angry with her, saying that it is G-d’s doing, not his.
Rachel gives Bilha to Yaakov to have children whom she will raise as her own. Dan and Naftali are born. Leah, realizing that she has stopped having children, gives Zilpa to Yaakov. Gad and Asher are the results.
Notice the rapid fashion the Torah employs to tell us of the build-up of Yaakov’s family. With Avraham and Yitzchak having such a difficult time fathering children, Yaakov has 8 sons in a span of 16 p’sukim!

R’vi’i - Fourth Aliya 14 p’sukim - 30:14-27
Rachel begs Reuven to give her the special (fertility) herbs (DUDA’IM, mandrake) that he had gathered for his mother, Leah. When Leah complains to her, Rachel promises that Yaakov could sleep with her that night in exchange for the herbs. When Yaakov returns from the fields, it is Leah who goes out to greet him - something Yaakov questions, and Leah explains. G-d answers Leah’s prayers of despair, and she gives birth to Yissachar and then Zevulun. Then Leah gives birth to a girl, Dina. Finally, G-d “remembers” Rachel and she becomes pregnant.
She gives birth and names her son Yosef, praying that she will have yet another son (giving her not fewer than the handmaidens had. Leah has also prayed to G-d that her sister should not be shamed by having fewer sons than the handmaidens).
After Yosef is born, Yaakov asks his leave of Lavan. He desires to return to his fathers’ home. He asks for his wives, children, and compensation for all the work he has done for Lavan. Lavan acknowledges that he has been blessed because of Yaakov.

Chamishi 5th Aliya 32 p’sukim - 30:28-31:16
They make an arrangement by which Yaakov will be paid. Lavan repeatedly attempts to minimize the births of the goats and sheep that will be Yaakov’s. G-d has other plans and Yaakov becomes very wealthy. The details of the speckled, banded, spotted animals and how which gave birth to what, are obscure. The bottom line is that Lavan attempts to cheat Yaakov (again) and is completely unsuccessful.
Lavan’s sons feel that Yaakov has cheated their father. G-d tells Yaakov to return to his birthplace. Yaakov calls to his wives and explains the situation to them. He tells them of being instructed by an angel as to what to do with the animals. Rachel and Leah feel as strangers in their father’s house, as if they have no share in Lavan’s wealth, and they will do as G-d commands.

Shishi - Sixth Aliya 26 p’sukim - 31:17-42
Yaakov prepares to leave. Mean- while, Rachel takes her father’s TERAFIM in his absence. When Lavan becomes aware of Yaakov’s departure, he sets out in pursuit. G-d appears to Lavan in a dream and warns him not to harm Yaakov in any way. When Lavan catches up to Yaakov, he confronts him about the unannounced departure and the missing terafim.
Rav Aryeh Kaplan z’l in The Living Torah, explains Terafim according to different opinions. Some say they were idols that were worshiped. This opinion adds that Rachel took them to save her father from the sin of idolatry. Others are of the opinion that they were meditative devices that would enable Lavan to divine the whereabouts of Yaakov. Thus Rachel’s motive was to prevent Lavan from pursuing Yaakov & Co.
Yaakov answers in kind, expressing his anger at Lavan’s repeated attempts to cheat him. As to the terafim, Yaakov permits Lavan to search for them and boldly declares that the one who took them shall not live. Lavan fails to find his terafim because Rachel convinces him not to search her person or belongings. Had it not been for G-d’s protection, Yaakov tells Lavan, you would have left me with nothing.
KI VARACH… (Lavan knew that Yaakov had “fled”). The Midrash, based on the phrasing in the text, says it was Amalek who told Lavan that Yaakov fled, and later told Par’o that Bnei Yisrael did so too.
In the Hagada we read/say: VAYEIRED MITZRAIMA (Yaakov went down into Egypt), and this is qualified by, ANOOS AL PI HADIBUR, usually translated as “Forced by Divine Decree”. There is another explanation offered: It was Yaakov’s DIBUR, his statement that forced himself down into Egypt. How so? He inadvertently condemned Rachel to an early death by his words to Lavan. This can be construed as killing B’SHOGEIG. Punishment (and atonement) for that is EXILE. (Really, to a city of refuge, but for this “drash”, exile to Egypt will do.) Not only does this explanation fit the DIBUR part, but it can also explain why the Hagada connects Yaakov’s descent into Egypt with Lavan.

Sh’VII Seventh Aliya 15 p’sukim - 31:43-32:3
Lavan answers that the women are his daughters, that the children are his (grand)children, and the animals are his as well. Yaakov and Lavan make a pact and form a mound of rocks as a sign of their agreement. Yaakov offers a sacrifice to G-d and swears to the covenant. In the morning, Lavan kisses his children and grandchildren, blesses them, and returns home.
Yaakov continues on his journey and encounters angels (of Eretz Yisrael - the sedra thus comes full circle - he left Eretz Yisrael with Vayeitzei and now is about to return to the Land) on the way, Yaakov names the place Machanayim.
Last 3 p’sukim are Maftir.

Haftara 28+2* p’sukim Hoshei’a 12:13-14:10
* Chayei Adam suggests concluding the haftara with Yoel 2:26-27, in order to end the haftara on a better note than Hoshea ends with.
S’faradim read the 17-pasuk portion of Hoshea that preceeds the Ashkenazi reading, 11:7-12:12. Chabad do also, but they continue for two more p’sukim - namely, the first two p’sukim of the Ashkenazi reading.
This concluding portion of the book(let) of Hoshea begins with reference to Yaakov’s journey to Aram to find (and work on behalf of) a wife (wives) - hence its obvious connection to the sedra. The prophet points out to the People of Israel their humble origins, in an attempt to put things in perspective and restore their faith and reliance upon G-d.
The last 9 p’sukim of the haftara are also the first 9 p’sukim of the haftara of Shabbat Shuva.
“...so will we offer the words of our lips instead of bulls.” This is the textual link between prayer and korbanot. Remember that the origin of Maariv is found in the sedra.
The final pasuk of Hoshei’a is as follows:
Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is prudent, let him know them; for the ways of HaShem are right, and the just walk in them; but the transgressors shall stumble in them.
The just walk in them and the transgressors stumble. Give an example. You might think that a person who does mitzvot is “just” and a sinner is a “transgressor”. Look at the gemara’s example:
Two people roasted their Korban Pesach. One ate it for the sake of the mitzva. The other ate it gluttonously. The former is just; the latter is a transgressor. But why? He also did the mitzva?
The point? Even one who does a mitzva, in order to walk in the ways of HaShem without stumbling, his motives, preparation, details, must all be for the sake of the mitzva.
On the note of preparation for a mitzva - with Korban Pesach, there is a different kind of preparation. With a Sukka, one prepares for the mitzva by building one. One buys the Arbaa Minim - preparation.
With Korban Pesach, of course, there is a similar type of preparation - acquiring the lamb or goat, bringing it to the Mikdash, etc. The there is the roasting. But then, in preparation for the mitzva to eat the Pesach, one has to control his eating during the meal that is to culminate with the KAZAYIT of the Pesach. The KP must be eaten AL HASOVA - when satisfied but not stuffed. Not every- one handles that properly.
This translates to our own time as not being stuffed before you get to the Afikoman. If one looks at the one or two k’zeitim of the Afikoman, wondering how he is supposed to eat that after double mains and double desserts, then he’s got the same kind of problem the gemara was talking about.

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