Kol Eliyohu - Parshas Vayeitzei

How many stones did Ya’akov take when he lay down to sleep?

(28,11) “And he arrived at the place and lodged there because the sun had set, and he took from the stones of the place and placed (them) at his head, and he lay down in that place.”

Rashi brings from the gemora in Chulin 91b that there is a contradiction between two posukim - here it writes “he took from the stones of the place”, but in posuk 18 it says “he took the stone which he had placed at his head”. Said R. Yitzchok: This teaches that all the stones gathered together in one place and started to quarrel with each other, each one saying: Let the Tzaddik rest his head upon me! Immediately, Hashem made them into one stone, and thus the subsequent posuk says that Ya’akov took only one stone.

But Tosafos in the gemora says that the literal reading of the phrase “he took from the stones of the place” to make a pillow for his head implies that he took only one stone from the stones of the place. If so, why did Rashi not give the simple explanation here as he does normally?

However, we can explain that the less simple explanation is in fact the correct explanation, because our Rabbis received as part of the Oral Tradition the rule that we "take away, add and expound", and they proved this rule from the posuk in Vayikra 16:18 “ולקח מדם הפר ומדם השעיר”, which is understood to mean “he shall take blood from the bull and blood from the he-goat”. But if we were to explain this posuk literally, we would have to say that it means “he shall take from the blood the bull and from the blood the he-goat”, which is clearly impossible. Therefore, we must say that the letter 'mem' from the word מדם belongs to the word הפר, and we must take away from one word, and add it to the other and then learn the posuk. And so the correct understanding is ולקח דם מהפר ודם מהשעיר - “and he shall take blood from the bull and blood from the he-goat”.

According to this, our posuk - ויקח מאבני המקום - must be explained in a similar fashion. Because the literal reading is “and he took from the stones the place”, which is impossible. Therefore we must take away the letter 'mem' from the word מאבני, and add it to the word המקום, and so it thus reads ויקח אבני מהמקום - “and he took stones from the place”.

Thus, our posuk says that he took several stones, and since the other posuk says that he later took only one stone perforce we must say like Chazal expounded, that because they were quarreling about on which of them Ya’akov should lay his head, they were made into one stone.

Which Beis El did Shaul go to?

(28,19) “And he called the name of the place Beis E-l (House of G-d).”

Behold, Ya’akov called three different places by the name Beis E-l. Here he called it simply Beis E-l. Later on, in parshas Vayishlach (35:7), he called it E-l Beis E-l, and in posuk (35:15) after Hashem blessed him, he called it Elo-him Beis E-l. And so too it is says with regard to Shaul (Shmuel Ⅰ 10:3) “three men going up to Elo-him Beis E-l”. (Thus we see that it was the third place that is called Beis E-l that is mentioned by Shaul).

Why did Lavan call Ya’akov his bone and his flesh?

(29,14) “And Lavan said: Indeed, you are my bone and my flesh.”

It says in Niddah 31a that there are three partners in the formation of a person - the father, the mother, and Hashem. The father produces the sinews and the bones, and the mother produces the flesh and the blood. According to this, someone is related only on the side of the father is called "of one bone", and someone who is related only on the side of the mother is called "of one flesh".

Now, Lavan was related to Ya’akov both on the side of his father, Yitzchok, and on the side of his mother, Rivkah. Because Avrohom and Nachor were brothers, and Ya’akov was a grandson of Avrohom, and Lavan a grandson of Nachor. And Rivkah was Lavan’s sister. Therefore, Lavan said to Ya’akov, “Indeed, you are my bone and my flesh”.

This is also the explanation of what is written in Divrei HayomimⅠ 11:1 “And all Yisrael gathered to Dovid in Chevron, saying: Behold, we are your bone and your flesh”. Because Doeg said to Dovid: Instead of asking if you are fitting to be king, ask whether you are even fit to enter the congregation - whether you are even Jewish. His challenge was based on the fact that Dovid came from Ruth the Moabitess, and there was a question whether a Moabitess can convert and become a Jewess.

Therefore, when the people came to crown Dovid as king, they started by saying “we are your bone and your flesh”, that is, you are a complete Yisrael - both on the side of your father and on the side of your mother.

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