Boruch Hashem, Dear Chaveirim,
We are sending out this week’s mamar inspiring chidushim about the sheep of Lovon containing the holy souls of Klal Yisruel, plus the column Tavlin Leshabbos – a spice for Shabbes, that we can share with our close ones at the shabbos table. We have a beautiful English translation so we can share with those who have hardship dealing with the original maamar.
So let us all have a sweet and lechtiken Shabbos.
Rav Pinchas Friedman, Vayetseh, 5770
Yaakov Steps Forward and Rolls off the Stone
In this week’s parshah, ויצא, we read about Yaakov’s journey to Charan (29,1):
“וישא יעקב רגליו וילך ארצה בני קדם, וירא והנה באר בשדה והנה שם שלשה עדרי צאן רובצים עליה, כי מן הבאר ההוא ישקו העדרים, והאבן גדולה על פי הבאר, ונאספו שמה כל העדרים וגללו את האבן מעל פי הבאר והשקו את הצאן והשיבו את האבן על פי הבאר למקומה, ויאמר להם יעקב אחי מאין אתם ויאמרו מחרן אנחנו…
ויאמר הן עוד היום גדול לא עת האסף המקנה השקו הצאן ולכו רעו, ויאמרו לא נוכל עד אשר יאספו כל העדרים וגללו את האבן מעל פי הבאר והשקינו הצאן… ויהי כאשר ראה יעקב את רחל בת לבן אחי אמו ואת צאן לבן אחי אמו, ויגש יעקב ויגל את האבן מעל פי הבאר וישק את צאן לבן אחי אמו”.
The Deeds of the Fathers Pave the Way for the Children
In (Bereishis 12,6), the Ramban posits a well-known principle. He explains that in the following parshiyos which portray the lives of the ovus hakdoshim Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, whatever transpired with the forefathers was a sign of future events involving their children: “מעשה אבות סימן לבנים”.
In this light, it is worth analyzing the episode describing when Yaakov sees our mother Rachel approaching with her father’s sheep:
“ויגש יעקב ויגל את האבן מעל פי הבאר וישק את צאן לבן אחי אמו”.
“ויגל, כמי שמעביר את הפקק מעל פי צלוחית להודיעך שכוחו גדול”.
Yaakov rolled the stone off of the well as easily as one would remove a cork from a flask; this is stated to inform us of Yaakov’s great strength.
This is puzzling at first glance. It’s hard to imagine that Yaakov performed this miraculous feat solely to impress Rachel with his great strength. Secondly, how can we apply the principle “מעשה אבות סימן לבנים” to this incident?
It’s also worth examining the words of the divine poet in תפלת גשם when he mentions among the great deeds of the ovus hakdoshim the zchus of Yaakov ovinu: “יחד לב וגל אבן מפי באר מים… בעבורו אל תמנע מים”. (a) What merit accrues to us from the fact that Yaakov rolled the stone off of the well in order to demonstrate his great strength? And (b) which “לב” did Yaakov dedicate through this act?
The Souls of Klal Yisroel Are Concealed in Lovon’s Sheep
In order to answer these questions let us explore a most interesting kabbalistic thought, based on the posuk that Yaakov ovinu said to Lovon (Bereishis 30,6): “כי מעט אשר היה לך לפני ויפרוץ לרוב ויברך ה’ אותך לרגלי”, where the midrash (B.R. 30,6) explains that, prior to Yaakov coming to Lovon, Lovon owned only seventy sheep. Afterwards, (B.R. 73,8), the midrash states that Lovon’s sheep now numbered six hundred thousand flocks. The “Yefeh Toar” explains that these numbers are derived by dint of a גזירה שוה comparing Lovon’s sheep to the Bnei Yisroel, who descended to Egypt with seventy members of Yaakov’s family and grew into a nation of six hundred thousand. But we need to understand, what possible connection exists between Bnei Yisroel, going in and coming out of Egypt and Lovon’s sheep that multiplied from seventy sheep to six hundred thousand flocks?
The divine kabbalist Rabbi Yechiel Michel of Glunah zts”l in his seifer “Nezer Hakodesh” on the above midrash, provides the answer. The gist of his explanation is as follows: the souls of Klal Yisroel contained in Adam horishon that were damaged by the sin of eating from the “עץ הדעת” – the forbidden tree of knowledge – reincarnated, initially into Lovon’s sheep and, subsequently, into Bnei Yisroel in Egypt.
It was incumbent upon Yaakov ovinu, “שופריה דאדם הראשון” – the image of Adam horishon, to tend to these souls and affect their tikun, rectification. This is why Yaakov employed many tricks and devices – such as placing the rods in the watering pools to stimulate different varieties of sheep – in drawing these souls back to the domain of Kedushe.
Now, the numbers of Lovon’s sheep and the connection to Bnei Yisroel in Egypt makes sense. This is also the meaning of the “Kedushas Levi”s commentary that when Rachel came with the sheep, this refers to the holy flocks of Jewish souls.
Lovon Touches Yaakov’s Sheep and Damages Them
This seems to be the source for the words of the “Chakal Yitzchak” in our parsha. His words appear to be a synthesis of the “Nezer Hakodesh” and the Arizal in “Shaar Hapesookim.” The Jewish souls tainted by the sin of the tree of knowledge reincarnated, first into the generation of the flood, then into the generation of dispersion and the people of Sodom, and, finally, into the slaves in Egypt – where they were rectified. These same souls reincarnated into Lovon’s sheep along the way. It is difficult to understand, however, why Yaakov ovinu wasn’t successful in rectifying these souls to the degree where they would no longer be required to suffer in Egypt?
The “Chakal Yitzchak” suggests that just as a tzaddik can effect sanctity and healing by laying their hands on a person or object, conversely, an evil, vile person can cause damage and defilement with his touch.
This is the reason Yaakov says to Lovon (31,32): “הכר לך מה עמדי וקח לך”. He emphasizes that Lovon should merely identify his possessions visually without actually touching and defiling Yaakov’s possessions. Of course, Lovon didn’t heed this warning (31,37): “וימשש לבן את כל האהל ולא מצא”, Lovon physically touched the sheep, causing the damage necessitating the exile of these souls to Egypt. As a consequence, Yaakov lashes out in anger (31.36-37): “מה פשעי מה חטאתי כי דלקת אחרי כי מששת את כל כלי”. This is the meaning of the well-known verse (Devarim 26,5): “ארמי אובד אבי וירד מצרימה” – it was he who caused them to suffer in Egypt.
And Rachel Comes with the Sheep
With these insights, let us expound on several verses involving our mother Rachel (Bereishis 29,9): “While he was still speaking with them, Rachel had arrived with the flock” – the holy flock of Jewish souls – “belonging to her father” – her Father in heaven; the verse proceeds to explain why these souls were under Rachel’s supervision, “for she was a shepherdess” – she is the shepherdess who prays on behalf of the holy flock in times of calamity, as it is written (Jeremiah 31,14): “A voice was heard on high…Rachel weeps for her children” – so too did she watch over them in the form of Lovon’s sheep.
“ויהי כאשר ראה יעקב את רחל בת לבן אחי אמו ואת צאן לבן”, Yaakov realizes through divine inspiration that holy, Jewish souls are sequestered in these sheep“ויגש יעקב ויגל את האבן מעל פי הבאר”, Yaakov ovinu did not intend to impress Rachel with his physical strength but rather wished to hint to her that their special, designated task was to release these prisoners from their unholy dungeon. This is what Rash”i meant to hint to us by explaining: “Yaakov rolled the stone off of the well as easily as one would remove a cork from a flask”, the cork symbolizes the powers of evil who imprison the souls of Klal Yisruel. The task of Yaakov and Rachel was to remove the cork in order to free them fom the grips of Lovon and his allies.
The Large Stone is the Evil Inclination
Now let us explain this amazing feat of Yaakov’s – the rolling of the stone off the well all by himself – based on the midrash (B.R. 70,8) that the stone alludes to the evil inclination which constantly attempts to distract and prevent a Jew from drinking from the well waters of Torah – “באר מים חיים”. By removing the stone from the opening of the well, Yaakov ovinu intended to remove the יצר הרע from the well of Torah.
We can add an explanation why it was Yaakov who removed the stone which reflects the Yeitzr hura according the Zohar (Vayetseh 146:) that Yaakov is the pillar of Torah:
“על שלשה דברים העולם עומד, על התורה ועל העבודה ועל גמילות חסדים, התורה דא יעקב, העבודה דא יצחק, גמילות חסדים דא אברהם”.
This is based on (Bereishis 25,27): “ויעקב איש תם יושב אהלים”, he was sitting in the bais hamidrash of Shem Veeiver learning Torah day and night. Likewise Rashi comments that Yaakov ovinu hid in the beis hamidrash of Ever, on his way to Charon, for fourteen years, learning torah day and night, without sleep.
Additionally, the gemorah (Kiddushin 30:) states that the only way to overcome the yeitzer hurah is with the power of Torah:
“כך הקב”ה אמר להם לישראל, בני בראתי יצר הרע ובראתי לו תורה תבלין, ואם אתם עוסקים בתורה אין אתם נמסרים בידו”.
In this light, the source of Yaakov’s strength enabling him to easily and singlehandedly roll the stone off of the well is obvious. The stone was no match for Yaakov ovinu, the pillar of Torah!
Yaakov Ovinu Paves the Way to Remove the הרע יצר
We’ve explained that Yaakov removed the yeitzer hurrah from the well, and that the Jewish souls that were tainted by their sins in earlier generations were concealed within Lovon’s sheep. The reason they went astray was due to their lack of Torah, which is the antidote against the yetzer harah. Even though the Torah had not been given, yet, they did have the seven Noahide laws – as explained in the gemorah (Sanhedrin 56:). If they had even kept those mitzvoth, they could have withstood this dangerous enemy. Yaakov ovinu, the root of all Jewish souls, whose name we bear, wished to rectify and purify these souls and guide them along the proper path. He showed them that they would receive the Torah after the exodus from Egypt and that learning Torah is the ultimate and only weapon they would need to employ in their battle with the יצר הרע.
So, when Yaakov saw Rachel approaching with the sheep, he understood through divine inspiration, that holy souls were concealed in these animals; so, he immediately summoned up his powers of Torah to roll away the yetzer from the well of Torah. Yaakov then proceeded to provide water and quench their thirst from the באר מים חיים. Thus, he also paved the way for future generations to overcome the יצר הרע through Torah study.
He Dedicated His Heart and Rolled a Stone
Let us add an insight into the words of Rashi (29,10). Rashi does not say: “להודיע לרחל”, but rather “להודיעך”. It is as if Rashi is speaking directly to each and every one of us: know, full well, when Yaakov ovinu rolled away the stone with his awesome strength, he wanted us all to be aware that his strength derives from the Torah and we should learn that the only power we have over the יצר הרע is Torah study.
Now, we can understand the meaning of the verses in תפלת גשם invoking the merit of Yaakov ovinu on our behalf: “יחד לב וגל אבן מפי באר מים”. The second parsha of krias shma states emphatically that if we keep Hashem’s commandments, rain will be forthcoming in the propitious amounts and propitious times and if not, heaven forbid, the rain will be withheld.
The last letter of the Torah is “lamed” and the first letter is “beis”; together, they form “לב” – heart. This is the meaning of the poet’s words in our prayer for rain: Yaakov ovinu dedicated his“לב” the Torah, and with its power, he easily rolled away the stone, the יצר הרעfrom the mouth of the well. In this manner, he paved the way for all the Jewish souls confined among Lovon’s sheep to rid themselves of the evil inclination through the power of Torah. Therefore, we pray for rain, in the merit of this momentous deed: “בעבורו אל תמנע מים”.
The Magid from Koznitz zy”a Yearned
for the Lashing He Received from Zaidy Yaakov
The “Chakal Yitzchak” from Sapinka zts”l relates that the holy Koznitzer magid remembered when his very soul was hidden among Lovon’s sheep. He would say “How nice it was when zaidy Yaakov gave me a lashing with his whip.”
I would like to add, it seems strange that Yaakov ovinu who went out of his way to bring back those Jewish souls hidden in the sheep, would strike this sheep, let alone the sheep containing such a holy נשמה from the Koznitzer magid, for it was, undoubtedly, pure and holy even then.
Let us suggest a new idea based on the verse (Bereishis 28,22) where Yaakov promises Hashem: “וכל אשר תתן לי עשר אעשרנו לך”, I will set aside “מעשר” tithes from all my possessions. The midrash (B.R. 70,7) says that, in a similar fashion, the tribe of Levi was designated to be “מעשר” contributing their life to do the Avodah in the Beis Hamikdosh.
From this we can assume, that the Almighty arranged that all of the righteous souls among Lovon’s sheep were designated as maaser, who received a gentle blow from Yaakov’s rod – as is the costume of the 10th sheep to mark it as maser – and when they received their blow from Yaakov ovinu’s rod, they fulfilled the verse:“העשירי יהיה קודש לה'” ,, Thus, these heilige Neshomas were chosen to lead the Jewish people throughout the generations.
This also explains why the Koznitzer magid zts”l named his seifer“עבודת ישראל” an allusion to the fact that his sanctity and Torah stemmed from his experience among the flocks of Yaakov ovinu, whose name is “ישראל”.
~ For the full Mamar in Lashon Hakodesh, see the weekly “Hamachne Hachareidi”. ~