פ’ ויצא תשע”ח
Volume 21, Issue 7
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
ויחלם והנה סלם מצב ארצה
“And he dreamt, and behold, a ladder was set earthward…” (28:12)
Rav Meir Premishlamer tz”l would say: A dream tells a lot about the dreamer. It often uncovers the hidden thoughts buried within a person. Thus, Yaakov dreamed about a ladder that reached into the Heavens and he literally saw ‘Hashem standing upon it.’ This was what was on his mind during the day. Pharaoh, on the other hand dreamed about seven fat cows and seven skinny cows!
Rav Yisrael Ba’al Shem Tov tz”l would say: The numerical equivalent of סולם – ladder – is the same as ממון – money. From this we learn that money is like a ladder; one can use it for charity and chessed to ascend and draw nearer to Heaven, or one can degrade himself with it by spending on wicked or wasteful things. It all depends on how one uses his money and for what it is employed.
וכל אשר תתן לי עשר אעשרנו לך
“Whatever You will give me, I will repeatedly tithe to You.” (28:22)
The word עשר means one tenth, and the word אעשרנו implies a second tenth. Thus Yaakov promised that he would give two tenths of his income to charity. There is a further allusion in the verse that Yaakov would contribute 20 percent of his income. Yaakov says that from the כל, whatever or everything, that Hashem would give him, he would be left with לי. The numerical value of כל is 50; לי is equal to 40 – which is one fifth less than 50.
The verse goes on to say: עשר אעשרנו, I will tithe twice. If you take the two tenths that had been removed and add them to what was left after the contributions, you will arrive back at לך, the original 50 that he started with. (Kol Dodi)
Yaakov vows that from everything that he will receive from Hashem, he will give one tenth to charity. It may be noted from this verse that the mitzvah of charity does not apply only to monetary matters, but rather to anything one receives as Hashem’s gift. If one is blessed with wisdom and knowledge, it is imperative to share this gift with others. Rabbi Shimon Shkopf zt’l remarked that just like one who is generous with his money merits that his possessions will increase, so too, if one is “charitable” with his skills and talents, he will similarly be blessed by Hashem. It has been noted by many that only after volunteering and sharing their time in tutoring others, did they themselves succeed in Torah study. (Peninim on the Torah)
וישא יעקב רגליו
“And Yaakov lifted up his feet.” (29:1)
The Hebrew word regel is related to the word meaning habit (hergel). Yaakov elevated his daily habitual actions and transformed them into holiness. As the navi Yeshayahu said: If you turn away your foot because of the Shabbos, I will feed you with the heritage of Yaakov, your father (58:13). If you make an effort to rise above your hergel, base instinct, in order to bring holiness into the world, Hashem will reward you for your actions.” (Rav Yisrael Ba’al Shem Tov)
ויבא גם אל רחל ויאהב גם את רחל מלאה
“And he also came to Rachel, and he loved Rachel more than Leah…” (29:30)
How did Yaakov – the greatest of all the Avos – marry two sisters? Is this not one of the most cardinal sins?
The Ben Ish Chai explains that Rachel and Leah were not Jews in the strictest sense, since they were not descendants of Avraham and Yitzchak, but the daughters of Lavan. Thus, they were not worthy of marrying Yaakov until they converted. Since a ger has the halachic distinction of a newborn infant, for his conversion in essence changes him into an entirely new person, he loses any connection to his previous existence. As a result, the one-time sisters Rachel and Leah were no longer considered sisters, for they were now new people, without relatives and were permitted to marry the same man. (Torah Tavlin)
ויען יעקב ויאמר ללבן מה פשעי ומה חטאתי כי דלקת אחרי
“And Yaakov said to Lavan, What is my transgression, what is my sin, that you have so hotly pursued me?” (31:36)
Even a Tzaddik can learn from a Rasha. R. Meir Shapiro of Lublin often decried how the wicked of the world are much more zealous than the righteous. (As I have noted in my sermons, a snowstorm does not empty the stands at a football game but it drastically diminishes shul attendance!) If only we could learn from these people to have such enthusiasm for mitzvot! This was Yaakov’s comment to Lavan: I know now “what my transgression is; what my sin is” – I see I still have much to learn, even from you, Lavan; “for you have so hotly pursued me” – I wish I pursued my mitzvot as ardently.
Similarly, as Rashi paraphrases Yaakov’s message to Eisav – “I have lived with Lavan, observed the 613 commandments, and failed to learn from his evil deeds” – Yaakov is lamenting that although he observed all the mitzvot, he did not learn from Lavan’s tremendous enthusiasm (albeit for evil). (Great Torah Lights)
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