Torah Weekly

For the week ending 2 December 2006 / 11 Kislev 5767

Parshat Vayeitzei

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Fleeing from Esav, Yaakov leaves Beer Sheva and sets out for Charan, the home of his mother's family. After a 14-year stint in the Torah Academy of Shem and Ever, he resumes his journey and comes to Mount Moriah, the place where his father Yitzchak was brought as an offering, and the future site of the Beit Hamikdash. He sleeps there and dreams of angels going up and down a ladder between Heaven and earth. G-d promises him the Land of Israel, that he will found a great nation and that he will enjoy Divine protection. Yaakov wakes and vows to build an altar there and tithe all that he will receive. Then he travels to Charan and meets his cousin Rachel at the well. He arranges with her father, Lavan, to work seven years for her hand in marriage, but Lavan fools Yaakov, substituting Rachels older sister, Leah. Yaakov commits himself to work another seven years in order to also marry Rachel. Leah bears four sons: Reuven, Shimon, Levi and Yehuda, the first Tribes of Israel. Rachel is barren, and in an attempt to give Yaakov children, she gives her handmaiden Bilhah to Yaakov as a wife. Bilhah bears Dan and Naftali. Leah also gives Yaakov her handmaiden Zilpah, who bears Gad and Asher. Leah then bears Yissachar, Zevulun, and a daughter, Dina. Hashem finally blesses Rachel with a son, Yosef. Yaakov decides to leave Lavan, but Lavan, aware of the wealth Yaakov has made for him, is reluctant to let him go, and concludes a contract of employment with him. Lavan tries to swindle Yaakov, but Yaakov becomes extremely wealthy. Six years later, Yaakov, aware that Lavan has become dangerously resentful of his wealth, flees with his family. Lavan pursues them but is warned by G-d not to harm them. Yaakov and Lavan agree to a covenant and Lavan returns home. Yaakov continues on his way to face his brother Esav.


Understanding The Times

“And he named him Yissaschar…” (30:18)

When you close your eyes and think of Chanuka, what comes to mind? The lights of the menorah; the dreidel spinning; the aroma of latkes and doughnuts.

And of course, the sound of “Maoz Tzur”.

In that beautiful stirring Chanuka song, we sing of the B’nei Vina, the “Children of Understanding”. Who were those children, and what was it that they understood?

Another question. On the festival of Lag B’Omer, there is a widespread custom to shoot arrows from a bow and arrow. The symbol of the month of Kislev, in which we are now, is the bow (Sagittarius - The Archer). What is the connection between the bow of Lag B’Omer and the bow of Kislev?

Lag B’Omer commemorates the passing of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. On that day, before he left this world, Rabbi Shimon revealed much of the Torah’s hidden light. The “bow and arrow” symbolizes this revelation. How? White light seems indivisible, inscrutable. No detail can be discerned in its pure whiteness. The bow of the rainbow, however, reveals the secret anatomy of white light. It shows us how white light is really composed of all the colors.

Just as the rainbow reveals the hidden colors within the white light, so Rabbi Shimon revealed the hidden light within the Torah.

The most conspicuous event in the month of the bow, the month of Kislev, is Chanuka. Chanuka is the festival that celebrates the hidden light of the Torah. Yissaschar, the son of Yaakov most closely associated with Torah learning, was conceived on Chanuka and born on Shavuot. Birth is the ultimate revelation of the hidden. Just as the conception of life is something that only makes itself manifest after the fact, so Yissaschar’s entrance into this world connects the hidden and the revealed — the hidden light of Chanuka with its revelation on Sinai at Shavuot.

Those “children of understanding” of whom we sing on Chanuka are Yissaschar’s children who understood and inherited this connection of Chanuka to Shavuot. This is why the Book of Chronicles calls them “men with understanding of the times,” for they understood how the connection of those two times — Chanuka and Shavuot — are the link between the hidden and the revealed Torah.

  • Source: B’nei Yissaschar

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