From Rabbi Baruch HaLevi Epstein


‫בראשית לב, לב ו ַי ִזְר ַח-לו הַשמֶש כַאֲשר עבַר אֶת-פְנואֵל והוא צל ֵע‬ ַ ֹ ְ ָ ֶ ֶ :‫על-יְר ֵכו‬ ַ
‫מסכת חולין דף צא/ב כי שמש לו לבד זרחה והלא לכל העולם זרחה אמר‬ ‫ר' יצחק שמש הבאה בעבורו זרחה בעבורו‬

Previously, the sun set early to “force” Yaacov to spend the night in that spot (Har Moriyah). Now, the sun rose early in order to provide its healing powers to Yaacov. Some ask about the Gemara (Taanis 20a) that the sun rose early for three people, Moshe, Yehoshua, and Nakdimon ben Gurion, why does it not mention Yaacov? However, it is a Ta’us Sofrim, and the text should read that for the other three the sun shone extra, and Yaacov is not included, since the sun rose early for him (but not extra ‫.)עמדו להם‬


‫בראשית לב, לג על-כ ֵן לֹא-יֹאכ ְלו בְנ ֵי-ישרָאֵל אֶת-ג ִיד הַנ ָשה אֲשר‬ ֶ ֶ ְ ַ :‫על-כ ַף הַיָר ֵך ְ עד הַיום הַז ֶה כ ִי נָג ַע בְכ ַף-יֶר ֶך ְ יע ֲקֹב בְג ִיד הַנ ָשה‬ ֶ ַ ַ ַ
‫מסכת חולין דף קא/ב כי נאמר על כן לא יאכלו בני יעקב והלא לא נאמר‬ ‫אלא בני ישראל ולא נקראו בני ישראל עד סיני אלא בסיני‬

But many times in Sefer Bereshis, the Jews are called B’nai Yisrael. However, the Gemara means that that until Sinai in reference to the mitzvos, the Jews are not called B’nai Yisrael. However, we see that many mitzvos were given to the Jews prior to Sinai. Threfore, the Rambam explains a very important principal. All that we do whether to distance ourselves from certain things, or to do other things, is solely due to the giving of mitzvos by HaShem to Moshe at Sinai. We do all the mitzvos (for example, aver min hachai or milah, or gid hanesheh) since they were given at Sinai to Moshe and not because they were given earlier. Thus, we say that all 613 Mitzvos were given at Sinai.


‫בראשית לג, יז וְי ַעקֹב נ ָסע ס ֻכֹתָה ו ַיִבֶן לו בָית ולְמקנ ֵהו עשה ס ֻכֹת‬ ָ ָ ְ ִ ַ ֲ ‫על-כ ֵן קר ָא שם-הַמָקום סכות‬ ֻ ֵ ָ ַ

‫מסכת מגילה דף יז/א א מארם נהרים ובא לו לסכות ועשה שם שמונה עשר‬ ‫חודש שנאמר ויעקב נסע סכותה ויבן לו בית ולמקנהו עשה סכות ובבית אל‬ :‫עשה ששה חדשים והקריב זבחים‬
Many attempt to explain how the Gemara knows this was 18 months. Rabbi Epstein explains that they did not simply make sukkos for the animals to live in, since they would have been called ‫ .גדרות‬Thus, these sukkos were made for the human usage during summer time. Thus, the verse should be understood that since they stopped for the sake of the animals, they built sukkos for the people.


From Rabbi Baruch HaLevi Epstein
Therefore, the (single) home referenced in the verse means for the one season of winter, and the sukkos (plural) were for two seasons of summer. Thus, Yaacov and his family spent 18 months (two summers and one winter) at that place.


From Rabbi Baruch HaLevi Epstein

‫בראשית לב, ח ו ַי ִיר ָא י ַעקֹב מאֹד‬ ְ ֲ
Rashi explains that Yaacov feared that Eisav would kill him or that he would kill Eisav. But this is the way of war; if you are going to war you must know that killing is a part of the action. Rather, Yaacov was concerned about the fulfillment of the prophecy of his mother, Rivkah. She said (27:45) that she would mourn two of them (her sons) in one day. Thus, Yaacov was afraid that both of them (Yaacov and Eisav) would possibly both die in an upcoming war.

‫בראשית לב, יא כ ִי בְמַקל ִי עבַרְתִי אֶת-הַיַר ְדן הַז ֶה וע ַתָה הָייתִי ל ִשנ ֵי‬ ְ ְ ֵ ָ ְ :‫מחנות‬ ֲ ַ
It appears that Yaacov was saying that all his material possessions were taken from him (by Elifaz) except for his walking stick. The lesson for all generations is that our wealth might disappear, we might live in poverty and pain, yet the Redemption is forthcoming. Note the story in the Gemara to the ‫מקלו של‬ ‫ .ר' מאיר‬Rabbi Meir would not leave any money in his pockets at the end of the day, but would give it all away to charity each day. Thus, all that remained for him was his walking stick.

‫בראשית לב, כט יאמֵר עוד שמְך ָ כ ִי אִם-ישרָאֵל‬ ְ ִ ֵ
In the first blessing of the silent Amidah (“Shmoneh Esreh”), we say the G-d of Avrohom, the G-d of Yitzchak and the G-d of Yaacov. We should be saying the G-d of Yisrael. And Rabbi Epstein has not seen an explanation to this question. The Chachmei Kabbalah find value in the number of letters, in that the number of letters in the names of the Fathers (‫ )אברהם, יצחק, יעקב‬is 13 letters. And they also count the number of letters of the Mothers (‫ )שרה, רבקה, רחל, לאה‬which is again 13 letters. The total number is 26 letters (the number value of G-d’s 4-letter name). This only works if one uses the name 4( ‫ יעקב‬letters) and not 5( ‫ ישראל‬letters).

‫בראשית לב, לב ו ַי ִזְר ַח-לו הַשמֶש כַאֲשר עבַר אֶת-פְנואֵל והוא צל ֵע‬ ַ ֹ ְ ָ ֶ ֶ ‫על-יְר ֵכו‬ ַ
In Yalkut Shimoni HaShem asks the angel Michoel, why he made my Cohen (Yaacov) a blemish (striking his gid hanasheh). And Michoel answers that he did it for his (Yaacov’s) good. This needs explanation. Prior to Mattan Torah, the first-born offered sacrifices. And, Eisav was angry that Yaccov bought the rights of the first-born from him, and was looking to kill Yaacov. And this is what the angel answered HaShem, that now Eisav would no longer be jealous since Yaacov was now a baal mum and unable to do the holy avodah. Note that Avrohom was crowned with the kehunah and passed it to Yitzchak, so that he would pass it on to his sons.

-‫בראשית לה, כ ו ַיצ ֵב יע ֲקֹב מַצֵבָה על-קבֻרָתָה הִוא מַצֶבֶת קבֻר ַת‬ ְ ְ ַ ַ ַ ‫ר ָחל עד-הַיום‬ ַ ֵ
The matter of setting up a Matzevah (monument stone) on a grave can be explained in two ways. The first reason is in order to request mercy upon us from the dead (requesting forgiveness from consequences of actions during their lifetime). Thus, this reason is for the sake of the living.


From Rabbi Baruch HaLevi Epstein
The second reason is for the sake of the dead themselves that they need kaparah (forgiving of their sins). Thus, the custom is to offer charity on behalf of the departed souls, etc. Thus, from one side the dead have an “obligation” to request mercy on behalf of the living. And from the other side, also the living have an “obligation” to the dead to perform mitzvos on their behalf. And the Matzevah functions to remind both (the living and the dead) of their “shared obligation.”

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