Yeshurun: Hashem or Yaakov? by Yonasan Rutta


In this week’s Parasha, it is stated,”Ve’Ha’Avanim Tiheyena Al Shemot Bnei Yisrael Shteim Esreih Al Shemotam Pituchei Chotam Ish Al Shemo Tiheyena LiShnei Asar Shavet,” “The stones shall correspond [in number] to the names of the sons of Israel: twelve, corresponding to their names. They shall be engraved like seals, each with its name, for the twelve tribes” (Shemot 28:21). The Gemara in Yoma (73b) says that in addition to the names of the Shevatim, the Choshen also had the names of the Avot– Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov–and the words “Shivtei Yeshurun.” The Maharsha, commenting on this Gemara, quotes the Yerushalmi which says that the words were actually “Shivtei Yisrael.” Why is there a change in Girsa between the Yerushalmi and the Bavli? The Maharsha answers that the Yerushalmi thought that “Shivtei Yisrael” was Yaakov’s name repeated in another form, while the Bavli believed that the name of Hashem, in the form of “Yeshurun,” was to be written on the Choshen.  The Maharsha explains that Rashi on Chumash teaches that Yeshurun is a name of Hashem. The Noda BeYehuda (Rav Yechezkel Landau from Prague) asks: where does Rashi on Chumash state that Yeshurun is a name of Hashem?

He answers as follows: in Parashat Vayishlach, after Yaakov and Esav peacefully parted ways, Yaakov Avinu built a Mizbe’ach. The Pasuk reads, Va’Yiven Sham Mizbe’ach Va’Yikra Lo Keil Elokei Yisrael (BeReishit 33:20). Rashi quotes the opinion found in Masechet Megillah (18b) that explains the clause “Va’Yikra Lo Keil” not as Yaakov naming the Mizbe’ach, but as Hashem calling Yaakov “Keil,” “God.”  However, Yaakov is not referred to as “Keil” anywhere else in the Torah. Therefore, the Nodah B'Yehuda explains that when Yaakov is called “Keil,” it is symbolic of his strength. “Keil” denotes strength, as noted by Tosafot in Rosh HaShanah (17b) when explaining the 13 Middot HaRachamim. Similarly, the word “Yeshurun” denotes strength as it comes from the root S.R.R., which means “power.” Therefore, the Noda BeYehuda asserts that the Maharsha must have interpreted the Rashi on the words “Vayikra Lo Keil”, and asked: why would Hashem refer to Yaakov as “Keil?” To answer this question, he reasoned that Rashi was referring to “Yeshurun,” a name which the Torah calls Yaakov many times. This would explain why the Maharsha tried to resolve the discrepancy between the Bavli and Yerushalmi, by saying that the Bavli thought that Yeshurun was referring to Hashem!

Aharon HaKoheIn and Yarovam ben Nevat by Tani Greengart

Internal and External Teshuvah by Eitan Leff