Bar Mitzvah Favors

Today is:  

kasher,kosher,kashrut,kosher supervision,kosher directo






Amazing New Kosher
Cookbook. BUY



The Torah's Weekly Portions
Bereshit - Vayetze - 101

Posted December, 2000
by Reb Yosef

Back to Torah Portions Archive 

Jewish Celebration Vendor directory

Parashat Vayetze begins at Bereshit Perek Chav-Chet, pasuk yud (Genesis Chapter 28, verse 10) and continues through and includes Lamed-Bet, gimel (32:3).  This is the Parashah that contains the story of Jacob and the ladder extending from the earth to heaven.  Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch's commentaries provide us with some insights into the nature of God and seem to be worth sharing. 

10. Jacob departed from Beer-sheba and went toward Haran:

11. He encountered the place and spent the night there because the sun had set; he took from the stones of the place which he arranged around his head, and lay down in that place:

12. And he dreamt, and behold! A ladder was set earthward and its top reached heavenward; and behold! angels of God were going up and coming down, against him:

13. And behold! God was standing over him, and He said, "I am God, the God of Abraham your father and God of Isaac; the ground upon which you are lying, to you will I give it and to your descendants: 

14. Your offspring shall be as the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out powerfully westward, eastward, northward and southward; and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and by your offspring: 

As an aside, one of the common points that draws discussion can be found in pasuk yud-bet (12) wherein it says, "angels of God were ascending and descending on it."  The reason this draws discussion is that the word ascending comes before descending.  In other words, how is it that angels were going from the earth to heaven rather than the other way around?  As it happens, Rav Hirsch makes a point on this as well. 

A ladder was shown him (Yaakov [Jacob]), so there was a means of communication upwards from the earth, and it is placed there, did not come there by itself, nor just by chance, it had been placed there by a Higher power, and indeed, to the earth, the power and the will that set it was not to be looked for on earth, but above, it is set from the height above down to the earth, nevertheless its purpose is primarily not only from heaven to earth, but to go up from earth to heaven.  Such was the first trend of thought which was shown to him so that, first of all, in general, that the whole life on earth, including accordingly, human life, his own life also, has its goal, not in the plains - not from Beer-Sheva to Haran - but in the heights, and set from the heights; that everything earthly is invited from above to work itself upwards to a heavenly high goal; that this goal and this striving upwards to it is no fairy tale invented by Man, no erroneous theory originating on earth, but is a most substantial reality established from heaven itself.  It is suggested that "wide beyond the whole world does the ladder reach, and its lowest rung can be mounted everywhere on earth. 

There is a second set of ideas.  Jacob sees angels of God, God's messengers, beings on earth who are called, by God's command to be active in the life on earth, sees them going up, coming down, going up to get the directions for their work, and coming down against him (which is the way one authority takes the meaning of the word literally to be, which opinion seems to us to be justified by the following explanation).  He sees that the fate of men is not made on earth by the material world.  He sees messengers of God, and notices that these messengers of God go up the ladder to get a picture of the ideal humanity, how human beings really should be, and then come down and compare what they find here below, with that picture to decide, according to that standard, whether to behave in a friendly assisting manner towards any particular member of mankind, or in very much the reverse way.  And so - to quote the words of our sages in [the Talmudic Tractate] Chulin 91b - "up above they found his picture engraved on Israel glorifying God, they came down and found him asleep," - sleeping at the very place which should have awakened in his mind the thoughts of his glorious mission, which thoughts would surely have kept him excitedly awake - so that on that account "they intended to endanger his life."  However, God intercedes… 

Before continuing with the commentary around pasuk yud-gimel (13), it seems appropriate to point out that this particular spot is unique in many ways.  This is the spot on which the Akeidah (the near sacrifice of Yitzchak) occurred and it is the spot which would later be occupied by the Beit HaMikdash - the Holy Temple.  Because of the commentary concerning the ladder and other points in the Tanach, this is the reason that we believe that, although only a part of the Temple remains today, the entire structure is intact in the spiritual sense still. 

As to the words "God stood beside him," this is usually taken to mean:  stood on it, on the ladder, and that gives a lovely dramatic picture, the sleeping Jacob at the foot of the ladder, the ascending and descending angels, and the Glory of God high up above the ladder.  But somebody stands, but the one on which his mind, his attention is fixed.  The Hebrew clearly designates standing next to something giving all one's attention to it.  The word itself does not mean simply standing, but standing somewhere with forces alert and ready for action.  Further, the Name of God here seems to be in contrast to the angels.  The angels are messengers of God, that he has created and keeps for the laws of nature of the world in which everything is measured and weighed in accordance with what is right and correct.  To them everything and everybody is only what it represents at that moment.  But it is God Who stands by him, the God of Love, who does not have only the past and the present before His eyes, but Who also sees and arranges the future, and Who recognizes in every present person, the future person, and if He sees any seedling, any spark of purity, keeps and fans and develops that seed. 

This has become quite lengthy and I will do my best to wrap things up.  There is a point that is made at the very end of pasuk yud-daled (14) which is "and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and by your offspring." 

". . . through thee all the families of the world shall be blessed, and through they seed."  Quite definitely the blessing that is to emanate from him, appears here to be a double one.  Altogether, one man and one nation can be a source of blessing for the whole human race only by spiritual influence, and the example of the development of a model exemplary mode of life, until the time comes when the prophecy will be fulfilled that "in those days, that, when ten men from every language of the nations will seek security, they will catch hold of the garment of a Jewish man and say:  we would go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."  (Zechariah 8:23).  That is the blessing that Jacob, as pater familias, and his seed as a nation, are to be to the world.  Jacob demonstrates the first Jewish house, and teaches how, without any inherited fortune, simply by the blessing and dignity of work, one can build up, and live through a family life with all its drudgery, worries and griefs, and still have God in one's life.  Accordingly, it is family and national life, borne purely and entirely by the grace of God, and lived in accordance with the Divine Will, which mankind is to learn from you and from your seed. 

In other words, through this single pasuk, we see not only a road map of how our lives can be their best but how, through our own behavior, Klal Yisrael can make the entire world a better place to live.


Translations in Torah Portions of the week are partially taken from the ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash and from Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch Chumash

Back to Torah Portions Archive
click here or Torah for Tots


 · Wedding Gifts
  · Bar Mitzvah Gifts
Baby Gifts
  · Jewish Books at Great Prices

Summer Love!




Check the Jewish Celebration Bookstore

Mazor Guides: Wealth of Information and Resources
- Mazor Guide - The Ultimate Guide to Living Jewish -
- Guide to Jewish Holidays -
- Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah Guide -
- Guide to a Jewish Wedding -
- Guide to Jewish Celebrations -
- Guide to Kosher Living
- Infertility and Judaism: A Guide
- The Get (Gett) - the Jewish Divorce: A Guide
- Zei Gezunt: Jewish Perspective on Health -
- Jewish Genetic Diseases -
- Death and Mourning in Judaism

Advertise on Mazornet's Jewish Celebrations Directory And Reach Your Target!!

Copyright 1998-2013 MazorNet, Inc.

Other Mazornet, Inc. Websites | | | |


myspace analytics