Parshas Vayeitzei
Genesis 28:10 - 32:3

"A Place And A Time"©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mr. Arnold Student Litman, may he rest in peace.

In our article entitled "Human Contact with G-d" we discuss how infrequently G-d made contact with man. As a result we discussed how very special contact with G-d is. We also elaborated on why it is impossible for man to have frequent contact with G-d even on the level as Moshe did thousands of years ago. And at that, not everyone has contact with G-d. Moshe was one of over three million people.

Here we are observing Yaakov's vision as he rested in a "Special Place." This was not just any place, it was a well known place. Rashi states, "The Torah does not tell us which place. - Instead it uses the definite article Bi Maw Kom [which is equivlent to Bi Ha Maw Kom] in the place, implying that the identity of the place was so well known that it need not be specified. This indicates that it refers to the site referred to elsewere by the desigination the place: Mt. Moriah, of which it is said [22:4], "he saw the place
{Ha Maw Kom}."

It appears that Yaakov journeyed to the place of sacrifice. The Torah is careful to describe that he "took from the stones of the place which he arranged around his head, and lay down in that place." {Genesis 28:11} If "the place" was in fact Mt. Moriah then the stones Yaakov took were from the altar that Avraham Aveinu set as a sacrifical altar for his father Yitzchok. In other words Yaakov lay on the same altar stones that his father, Yitzchok, lay on exactly 110 years before. That is why the location is called "the place."

Keeping in mind that Yaakov was 77 years old, that he had just finished fourteen years of study at the Yeshiva of Shem and Evier, that he lived with his very righteous grandfather, Avraham, until the age of fifteen and his father Yitzchok, and mother Rivkah, until the age of 63...we move to the statement:
"Yaakov awoke from his sleep and said, 'Surely Hashem is present in this place and I did not know!' And he became frightened and said, 'How awesome is the place! This is none other than the abode of G-d and this is the gate of the heavens!" {Genesis 28:16,17}

Now, out of eleven other reported individuals who had had direct contact with Hashem G-d besides Yaakov, one was a great grandfather {10 generations of "great" back}, Noach, two were his grandparents and two were his parents. In other words, including Yaakov, his immediate family accounted for one half of all the people the Torah records as having had direct contact with G-d!. This would place Yaakov by today's standards as one of the world's leading experts then with knowledge regarding direct contact with Hashem G-d. That being the situation, how could he not know, how could he not be aware of the awesomeness of "the place?"

This teaches us that when even one of the world's leading authorties of their time with their knowledge, education and experience visits "the place," even with their very best, they are not ready for the experience that they are about to encounter! Direct contact with Hashem G-d cannot be described in a way that prepares man for such a great experience!!

So Yaakov was in "the place" where the course of the world had been changed. What did he do in "the place?" It would appear that he rearranged it. NOT SO! He restored the altar built by Avraham in "the place." He reset the altar with the original stones in respect for "the place." Then he rested in the same place of "the place" of his father.

Then we observe the time. Yaakov's grandfather, Avraham, was now resting with Hashem for 62 years. His father, Yitzchok, had just passed the blessings that he had received from his father, Avraham, on to Yaakov. Next we see that each of these three great men, our patriarchs, shared the same "place."

Now on that evening, Yaakov was in "the place" at the time after his blessing. He was alone. Just as Avraham had left the young men behing while he and Yitzchok journeyed on together, Yaakov had left behind any servants, et al. who may have joined him. Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov were unencumbered!

As a result, we learn that Hashem G-d joined all the stones together into ONE STONE which represented Hashem G-d, the ONE and ONLY G-d! Yaakov set that one stone as a marker.

Finally we must ask the question, Was it normal for Yaakov to carry oil with him? Was it a common everyday oil or was it a special oil prepared for such an occasion? Was it an oil that he made after awaking? Did Hashem G-d provide the oil as in the miracle of Chanukah? Would one go to an altar without oil?

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva  G. Belk

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