A Student Publication of the Torah Academy of Bergen County
Parshat Toldot 11 Kislev 5764 December 6, 2003 Vol.13 No.13
In This Issue:
Rabbi Chaim Jachter
Halacha of the Week
week’s issue of Kol Torah has been sponsored by the Koolyk and Flug
Yaakov and Rachel: Love Jewish Style
by Mrs. Rochi Lerner - Psychology Department
Parshat Vayetzei relates the love story of Yaakov and Rachel. It is an odd tale, replete with unexpected twists and turns. In Vayetzei 29:10-12, the Torah describes their encounter, “And it was when Yaakov saw Rachel, daughter of Lavan, his mother’s brother, and the flock of Lavan, his mother’s brother, Yaakov came forward and rolled the stone off the mouth of the well and watered the sheep of Lavan, his mother’s brother. Then Yaakov kissed Rachel, and he raised his voice and he wept. Then Yaakov told Rachel that he was her father’s relative, and that he was Rivkah’s son, then she ran and told her father.”
Yaakov’s initial response to his first encounter with Rachel is very odd, and out of character with the behavior we would typically associate with the Avot. Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch comments that what is noteworthy in the aforementioned Pesukim is the thrice-repeated phrase of “his mother’s brother.” Yaakov was moved in all of his actions by the thought of his mother, who was brought vividly to life for him in the person of her brother Lavan, her nearest relative. Without this frequent allusion to Lavan being Rivka’s brother, we might mistake this entire encounter as that of the stereotypic “love at first sight” behavior of a man for a lovely shepherdess. Rav Hirsch further comments that although Yaakov noted her beauty, she was first and foremost, a relative of his. This is reinforced by the fact that Yaakov wept. When a man meets a beautiful woman, his instinctual response is delight, not tears. Yaakov had been wandering a long while from home without seeing a familiar face. And then he sees Rachel, daughter of his mother’s brother, and the image of his mother that she evokes moves him to tears. These tears characterize the ensuing kiss as innocent. Indeed, Rachel was quite disarmed and astonished by his unusual response to her, and so he explains himself in the following Pasuk (12), informing her of their familial relationship.
In Vayetzei 29:18-20, the Torah relates, “And Yaakov loved Rachel, and he said: I will serve you for seven years for Rachel your younger daughter. And Lavan said: It is better that I give her to you than to give her to another man- abide with me. And Yaakov served seven years for Rachel, and they were in his eyes but a few days, in his love for her.” At first blush, this is an astonishing sequence of events. In the first instance, how is it that Yaakov is prepared to wait seven years before marrying his beloved Rachel? Secondly and more difficult to comprehend is the Mikrah’s characterization of the seven years as but a few days for Yaakov because of his great love for Rachel.
Young men in love are not known for their patience or capacity to delay. One day’s delay seems an eternity; seven years seem impossible to endure. How was Yaakov able to spend seven years separated from Rachel, and yet experience that separation as one of only a few days? The Dubno Maggid explains that Yaakov’s love for Rachel was a “higher love.” In the study of psychology, we learn that people are motivated to act either in accordance with their own best interests in the long-term or so as to obtain maximum pleasure and satisfaction in the short-term. Freud characterized the latter as the pleasure principle; we act to have our needs met quickly. This term is called Chefetz, and it operates on blind instinct. When we act in order to benefit ourselves in the long-term, we utilize the reality principle, and we rely not on our instinct, but on reason. This is called Cheshek. In the usual course of events, instinctual impulse of necessity conflicts with rational and mature thought.
In the circumstances of love and marriage, a person driven solely by Chefetz will want marriage immediately, and will be impatient at the thought of delay. But the lover guided by Cheshek will allow reason to dictate his emotional responses. It is stated in Kohelet (2:14): “Hechacham Einav Birosho,” “The wise man has eyes in his head.” The wise man can anticipate what we follow. The lover motivated by Cheshek determines when the time is ripe for his happiness to be ensured, not just in the immediate present but in the future as well.
In the personality of Yaakov, Chefetz and Cheshek were one. Rachel was a beautiful woman, but it was more than physical attraction that drew Yaakov to Rachel. We know this because he experienced the delay of seven years as one of several days. Yaakov was capable of waiting for Rachel for those seven years, which for an individual driven by Chefetz would have been unendurable. Instead, his ability to delay gratification was motivated by Cheshek, rational and mature consideration. Yaakov knew that Rachel was his divinely chosen wife, and that she was to be the mother of the future Jewish nation. His view extended beyond his own immediate needs to that of the future they would jointly build. This perception is further reinforced by the use of the words in Pasuk 20, “in his love for her.” Had he loved her only for his immediate sensual needs, these words would make no sense. For someone who loves for the immediate moment is selfish; he loves himself and seeks immediate gratification. He is governed by his Chefetz, the pleasure principle. But the love of Yaakov for his future partner in life was one governed not by greed or hunger, but one motivated by love of her; she as a distinct entity, not as a means to his end. She was the mother of the Jewish nation, his divine soul mate, and reason dictated that he wait as long as it took. For such a heroic marriage, seven years were but a few days.
A Lucky Ladder
by Chaim Cohen
Ladders. In non-Jewish culture they are bad luck, could this originate from Torah? In this weeks Parsha, as Yaakov is running away from Esav he stops over and sleeps on his way out of Eretz Yisrael, and has a dream in which he sees “a ladder planted on the ground, and its top reached into the heavens” (28:12). Many Meforshim attempt to explain the meaning of this strange seemingly prophetic dream. The Baal Haturim points out that the Gematria, or numerical value of Sulam, ladder, is equal to 136, which is also the Gematria of Mammon, or money; as well as that of Ani, or poverty. The Midrash states that the ladder represents Moshe and Korach. This Midrash will be explained later. According to the Baal Haturim a ladder is symbolic of money; it can take you up to the greatest of heights, or the deepest levels of immorality. The Gemara Eruvin (41b) states that being poor makes someone susceptible to sin out of desperation. However, if they are able to overcome it, the poverty will elevate them beyond the bonds of money, allowing them to concentrate on studying Torah and living their lives according to the Torah. Wealth can have the same effect on people. Both Moshe and Korach were extremely wealthy, but Moshe was able to ascend higher than any other person, and Korach descended lower than anyone in history, literally, partly due to his wealth which gave him power and he eventually grew such a hunger for power that he attempted to overthrow Moshe, which led to his demise. Rav Frand demonstrates this through a story that once happened in a Sheitel shop in Baltimore. A woman and her daughter were shopping in Sheitel shop and they found the perfect Sheitel for the mother. The mother called over a saleswoman to ask for the Sheitel. However, the saleswoman knew that the family was poor and that the Sheitel was out of their price range. Feeling uncomfortable the saleswoman tried to talk the woman out of that particular Sheitel, but the woman persisted on getting that particular Sheitel. Finally, the woman asked why the saleswoman was so intent on stopping her from getting that Sheitel, so the saleswoman responded that it was extremely expensive. The woman replied that she could not afford any of the Sheitel in the store, so she might as well be happy. After hearing this the 12 year old girl who had been listening the entire time, appeared very upset and asked her mother, why can’t we afford any of the Sheitels? Are we poor? I never knew that! This shows how a family, truly freed from the bonds of money, can concentrate on living a Torah lifestyle and not be constrained by money in achieving happiness. Non-Jews without Torah to channel their resources on are often bound by money, therefore, money is always a problem and never good luck. If we can learn from Yaakov’s dream, and Moshe Rabeinu we can achieve happiness with or without money, and ladders should be a source of happiness and luck to us.
by Ben Krinsky
This week’s Parsha describes Yaakov receiving a Nevuah in his sleep. When he wakes up, he makes a Neder that if Hashem helps him on his journey, he will do the right things in life and follow Hashem’s path. However, if Yaakov is good already and is following Hashem’s ways then Hashem should reward him.
To fully understand this Neder we must look at the Bracha that Yaakov got from Yitzchak in last week’s Parsha. This Bracha was intended to help Esav get Olam Haba by giving him the means to support Yaakov. However, when Yitzchak transferred the Bracha, he used the word Elokim, the name of Hashem that refers to the Midat Hadin, judgment, because he wanted to make the Bracha conditional. This was to make sure that Esav uses what he receives in order to support Yaakov. As a result, when Yaakov ended up receiving Esav’s Bracha, the Bracha was also conditional. Therefore, looking at this week’s Parsha we can now understand the terms of Yaakov’s Neder. If Hashem helps him on his journey and in life, it shows that Yaakov is doing the right thing.
Yaakov and the Seven Dwarfs
by Avi Wollman
In this week’s Parsha, Yaakov has a dream. The Torah then states, “Yaakov woke up from his sleep and said, ‘Surely Hashem is present in this place and I did not know,’” (28:16). Two Pesukim later, the Torah writes, “Yaakov woke up early in the morning and took the stone that he placed around his head and set it up as a pillar” (28:18). What is happening here? Did Yaakov go to sleep two times? Furthermore, why does Yaakov promise to give a percentage of his wealth to Hashem after the dream?
In order to answer this question, we must analyze the dream Yaakov had. In his dream Hashem promises him protection and the land. Why does Hashem feel the need to reassure Yaakov that land, one of the most unspiritual things, will be given to him? The first time Yaakov woke up he did not wake up physically; rather, it was a spiritual wakeup. Yaakov realized how much potential land he had, and as he later says, “This is the gate to heaven.” By working the land, we can make it more spiritual and do Mitzvot with it, and it will be “the gate to heaven.” Similarly, money can become spiritual when it is given as Tzedakah. This is why Yaakov promises a percentage of his wealth, because any worldly item can be made spiritual. This is what Yaakov teaches us: we can make anything we own spiritual, and it is important to give all of what we own some spiritual purpose in order to make those items much more meaningful.
Halacha of the Week
Two people may not eat on the same table if one is eating meat and the other is eating milk. We are concerned that they may share food with each other and violate the prohibition of eating milk and meat together. They are permitted to eat on the same table if the two people do not know each other or if they are eating on separate placemats or if they place a loaf of bread or some item as a reminder not to share food (Shulchan Aruch Y.D. Chapter 88).
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