וַיִּפְגַּע בַּמָּקוֹם וַיָּלֶן שָׁם כִּי בָא הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ וַיִּקַּח מֵאַבְנֵי הַמָּקוֹם וַיָּשֶׂם מְרַאֲשֹׁתָיו וַיִּשְׁכַּב בַּמָּקוֹם הַהוּא: … וַיַּשְׁכֵּם יַעֲקֹב בַּבֹּקֶר וַיִּקַּח אֶת הָאֶבֶן אֲשֶׁר שָׂם מְרַאֲשֹׁתָיו וַיָּשֶׂם אֹתָהּ מַצֵּבָה וַיִּצֹק שֶׁמֶן עַל רֹאשָׁהּ:(בראשית כח/יא-יח)
It is written, “And he took stones (pl.) from the place” and it is also written “and he took the stone (singl.)”. Rebbi Yitzchok explains, ‘it teaches that all of the stones came together to one place and each stone said, ‘the tzaddik should rest his head on me.’ A Tanna taught, ‘all of the stones merged into one’.(Chulin (91b))
Tosafos comments, “Simply, these pessukim can be explained that Yaakov took one stone from the many stones that were there.
Zera Shimshon asks what is Tosfos coming to teach us? Is he asking a question or giving an answer to a question? Or is he simply telling us what is the simple explanation of the pessukim?
He answers that Tosafos is coming to explain the question of the Gemorra.
The Gemorro here is NOT asking that there is simply a contradiction between two pessukim the way that the Gemoro asks contractions in many other places in Shas. In most of other places we could understand the topic there according to each of the two pessukim. The problem is, though, that we don’t know which of the two pessukim is to be understood at face value and which one has to be explained some other way. Therefore, the Gemorra asks that there is a contradiction between the two pessukim.
Here, however, since Yaakov didn’t need a whole lot of stones for a pillow under his head, seemingly the second possuk, that he took only one stone, is the possuk that should be taken at face value. The Gemorro is therefore really only asking what does it mean that he took many rocks (the first possuk)?
R‘ Yitzchak answers that really Yaakov only wanted to take one stone. However when he began to take A stone, all of the rocks came together (to be able to serve the tzaddik) so Yaakov ended up taking “from the STONES (plural) of the place.”
However according to this arises a new question; what does the second possuk, that he took only one stone mean?
To answer that question the Gemorra quotes the Tanna that they all merged together into one. According to this both pessukim do not contradict each other; he initially took a lot of stones, then they merged, and he ended up putting only one stone under his head.
This is a simple and straightforward way to learn the Gemorra.
Tosfos however rejected this understanding of the Gemorra because according to this it should have said that Yaakov “took the stones of the place” which would imply that he took all of the stones there and not “from the place”, which implies only a portion of them.
Therefore Tosafos learned that the Gemorra initially understood that he took only one stone from the many that were there, like the simple understanding of the pessukim. The Gemorro asked, though, why did the Torah mention that he took from all of the stones of the place? What is the difference if there was only one stone, and he took that one individual stone, or if he took one stone from many?
To answer this question, R‘ Yitzchak says that it is to allude to the fact that they all came together to have the zechus that the tzaddik put his head on them!
According to this, concludes Zera Shimshon, it could be that R‘ Yitzchak doesn’t agree with the Tanna that all of the stones came together since we can understand the pessukim without the fact that all of the stones merged.
Another possibility, suggests Zera Shimshon, is that R‘ Yitzchak is really explaining the Tanna; the reason that the Tanna said that all the stones merged into one stone is because they all came together in order that the tzaddik will put his head on them.
וַיִּקַּח אֶת הָאֶבֶן אֲשֶׁר שָׂם מְרַאֲשֹׁתָיו וַיָּשֶׂם אֹתָהּ מַצֵּבָה וַיִּצֹק שֶׁמֶן עַל רֹאשָׁהּ. (בראשית כח/יח)
On the possuk, “And he (Yaakov) took the stone that was under his head…” Pirkei D’Rebbi Eliezer comments, “What did Hashem do? H. stretched H.s right foot and sunk this stone into the depths of the earth and H. made it a part of the Earth just like a person makes a doorpost to support the lintel (a horizontal support of timber, stone, concrete, or steel across the top of a door or window). Therefore it (this rock) is called “even shesia” because this (stone) is the core of the world and from this stone the world expanded.
(On that stone) the Palace of Hashem (Bais Hamikdash) stands like it says, “… and this rock that I (Yaakov) made an alter, will be the Dwelling Place of Hashem.”
We see from the Pirkei D“Rebbi Eliezer that until Yaakov took the stone and placed it under his head, the foundations of the world were not yet complete.
Zera Shimshon asks why did Hashem put on the finishing touches of the world specifically now, before Yaakov arrived at the house of Lavan? Why couldn’t it have waited until Yaakov left Lavan’s house with his wives and children?
He answers by first asking a similar question on a different Medrash. The Medrash says that Hashem first created the food for mankind and only after that did H. create people. He asks why was this order so important? Why couldn’t Hashem first create mankind and after that their food?
He explains in light of the halacho that a person is allowed to do whatever he wants to do on his own property even if his neighbor will eventually be damaged. (For instance, he can plant a tree in his yard even though that the roots will eventually spread and damage his neighbor’s field.)
However he is not allowed to do something that will cause immediate and direct damage. For instance, he is not allowed to dig a pit in his field if the digging will weaken his neighbor’s wall. He can dig a pit on his own property only if he distances himself far enough away from his neighbor’s property not to cause any damage.
In actually, people and the physical world really damage each other. We damage the world by doing sins (like what happened at the time of the Flood in the days of Noach). The world damages us by enticing us to do avairos through forbidden pleasures. However there is a fundamental difference between the way we damage each other.
The world damages us immediately. Almost involuntary, we see something and the heart yearns for it. However, our damage to the world doesn’t come right away. Hashem warns us and gives us time to do teshuva. Only then, if we don’t heed the warnings, does Hashem punish the world.
According to this, reasons Zera Shimshon, we can understand why Hahem created our food before H. created us.
The world needs both people and food for people in order to exist. If mankind was created first, Hashem wouldn’t be able, so to speak, to create our food since the physical world directly and immediately damages us.
However since our actions don’t damage the world immediately, therefore there is no problem that Hashem creates us, just like it is permitted to plant a tree in your own property even though the roots will cause damage later on.
Yaakov Avinu didn’t just go to Lavan’s house. He went there to bring into this world the 12 tribes who’s existence is the basis and root of all of mankind. (This is symbolized by the fact that there are twelve tribes which is parallel to the 12 Zodiac signs, the 12 months, and the 12 combinations of the name of Hashem).
If Hashem would have waited to finish creating the foundation of the world until Yaakov returned from the house of Lavan and after he gave birth the the twelve tribes, H. would not have been able to finish the creation of the world, since the world directly and immediately damages mankind.
Therefore right before Yaakov arrived at the house of Lavan and begot the Twelve Tribles, Hashem put on the finishing touches of our world.
וַיִּפְגַּע בַּמָּקוֹם וַיָּלֶן שָׁם כִּי בָא הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ וַיִּקַּח מֵאַבְנֵי הַמָּקוֹם וַיָּשֶׂם מְרַאֲשֹׁתָיו וַיִּשְׁכַּב בַּמָּקוֹם הַהוּא:(בראשית כח/יא)
On the possuk “and he (Yaakov) lied down in that place (Har HaBayis) because the sun set” the Medrash (Pirkei D’Rebbi Eliezer perek 35) comments that Hashem said to Yaakov that since he has enough to eat and drink he should now rest in this place (Har HaBayis). Yaakov replied that the sun has not completely set (it went down only 5 measures) so the time for him to sleep has not come yet. Hashem therefore made the sun go down. When Yaakov saw the sun in the west he went to sleep.
Zera Shishmon asks a number of questions on this Medrash.
Firstly, why did Hashem preface the request that Yaakov should sleep with the fact that he had enough to eat and drink? What does having enough to eat have to do with his sleeping?
Secondly, why did Hashem want Yaakov to sleep there specifically when it was still day?
Thirdly, why didn’t Yaakov immediately comply with Hashem’s wishes to sleep there? What did he see wrong in sleeping when it was still day?
Fourthly, if Yaakov didn’t want to sleep in the day why then did he sleep before sunset, when the sun was still in the west?
Zera Shimshon answers these questions in light of two ideas found in two different sources.
The Kli Yakar explains that Hashem showed Yaakov the Beis HaMikdash in his dream in order that in the merit of the Bais HaMikdash he would be saved from Eisav.
How is this?
Firstly, the fact that no metal was used in the building of the Beis HaMikdash counters Eisav’s strength which is connected to weapons. And, secondly, the fact that not only does the sun have no effect on the Bais HaMikdash but the Bais HaMikdash actually dimmed the sunlight! This therefore weakens Eisav since he lives under the influence of the sun (for instance, he counts his calendar according to the sun) and he gets his power through the sun.
The second idea is found in a Medrash in the beginning of Breishis. The Medrash asks why in the beginning of creation is the moon referred to as one of the “the BIG shining objects” (the other one is the sun) but it is later referred to as the “SMALL shining object? The Medrash answers that the moon was punished because it “entered into the domain of the sun” (the moon is sometimes seen in the day) and as a punishment was made small. Even though that it shines in the day with permission, it was still damaged.
According to these two ideas, Zera Shimshon explains the dialogue between Hashem and Yaakov.
Hashem wanted Yaakov to sleep in the place of the Bais HaMikdash only exclusively in the day when the sun shines because this is time when Eisav is strongest and it is when Eisav gets his power. Hashem wanted Yaakov to davven there and in the merit of the Bais HaMikdash which overpowers and dims the sunlight, Eisav’s strength would be weakened. Yaakov, however, was scared to trespass on Eisav’s domain for fear of being hurt (like what happened to the moon at the time of Creation).
To discredit Yaakov’s argument Hashem prefaced the request to sleep in the place of the Bais HaMikdash by saying that you already have food and drink. Hashem intended to point out to Yaakov that since this world is under the rule of Eisav by taking pleasure from this world which was given to Eisav he is already trespassing. Therefore there is no need to worry to weaken the influence of the sun.
Yaakov didn’t accept this argument. He held that since no one can live with eating and drinking “one cannot bring a proof from something that is impossible to something that is possible”
Hashem accepted Yaakov’s argument and therefore made the sun begin to set. After it was mostly all the way down Yaakov understood that it is alluding to the end of Eisav’s rule and was no longer afraid of trespassing and therefore laid down to rest!
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