Vayeitzei – Torah Themes

Parshas Vayeitzei

Four Rungs Up

The Yalkut Reuveni discusses the ladder that Yaakov saw in his prophetic dream. Sources say that it had 4 rungs. These rungs represent the four things that Adam damaged when he committed his sin of eating from the Eitz Hadaas and the resulting pgam, negative impact, it had on the four letters of Hashem’s name, Yud-Key-Vuv-Key. This infraction is that which was created four evil generations of the: mabul, haflaga, Enosh and Sedom.

This is hinted to in the verse, “הצר-א בצו-מ לם-ס הנ-הו” where the first letters stand for: hey-haflaga, samech-Sedom, mem-mabul, alef-Enosh. These souls ended up being sent back down into the souls of the Jews in Egypt and were perfected there.

Root Sin

It is interesting to note how often Yalkut Reuveni discusses the sin of Adam. This is because that sin represents the first and the ultimate rebellion against God. Because it was the first sin ever, it encapsulates all infractions possible. It hints to the denial and turning away from Hashem and its repair is of vital importance in the perfection of the world.

What also should be noted is that the above-mentioned four generations correspond to the four elements of water, fire, wind and water. The generation of the flood represents Water, as that is how they were punished. The generation of Sedom represents fire, which is how they were destroyed. Enosh represents dirt as that is how they acted. Haflaga represents wind as Hashem scattered them to all the corners of the world and gave them new languages that emanate from the wind within, the means to express words. As the Maharal explains, the creation of the world gives opportunity to connect with Hashem, but also contains the free will to utilize the negative aspects of all of the creation to rebel against Hashem. The four elements can be used for connecting with Hashem and can be used against Him.

Sefer Gali Raza elaborates on this theme. The Gemara (Chagiga 13b) talks about how Hashem intended to give the Torah to the world after 1000 generations, but instead offered it to the Jews after 26 generations. The 974 generations, who would have been evil people, were thus never created and instead were evil people who were sprinkled thought the generations. They remained imperfect. The souls came down as the sheep of Lavan and Yaakov brought them to holiness and took them down to Egypt with him. There, the souls were born into humans, which is why the Jews had such large families in Egypt.

Thus, Yaakov’s dream of the ladder with four rungs ties into the theme of perfecting the world and bringing the 4 elements under the jurisdiction and into the service of Hashem. That is what Yaakov taught his children to do.

Rachel’s Short Life

Yaakov was 100 years old when Binyamin was born. This is why he named his son “Ben Yemin (ימן), a word that has the numerical value of 100. Rabbeinu Bechaya says that when Yaakov met Rachel she was 5 years old. That is why he waited seven years to be able to marry her at age 12. The Yalkut says that Rachel was barren for 7 years before having Yosef (at the age of 19). After that, she again was barren for another 7 years, finally giving birth to Binyamin at age 26 and passing away tragically in labor. Hence, Rachel lived to a mere 26 years and was married to Yaakov for only 14 years.

Binyamin was 30 years old when he went down to Egypt. The Midrash (Nasso) says that the tribe of Binyamin brought a silver platter weighing 130 measures. This hints to 100 years of Yaakov and 30 years of Binyamin. It is interesting to note that after Adam sinned because Chava had encouraged him to eat from the Eitz Hadaas, Adam separated from her for 130 years. Thus, 130 hints to Yaakov separating from Rachel his wife and her current death.

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