Why does the Torah say that Yaakov arrived "ba'Makom"? It did not say which place it is!
Rashi: Because the Torah writes "ba'Makom" (with a Patach) - the place, without specifying. It must be referring to a location that has been mentioned before - namely, Har ha'Moriyah, 1 about which it wrote above, "va'Yar Es ha'Makom me'Rachok" (22:4). 2
Tosfos ha'Shalem (9): "Makom" refers to Hashem, Who is the place of the world.
Ohr ha'Chayim: The simple meaning is, a settled place. Later (28:19), it is called a city.
Why does the Torah use the unusual word "va'Yifga," rather than 'va'Yavo'?
Rashi #1 and Targum Yonasan: To inform us that he prayed there. 1
Ramban: Because when he left Charan to return to Har ha'Moriyah, he had Kefitzas ha'Derech and arrived there on the same day. 4
Rashbam and Seforno: Because he was actually on his way to Charan, and it was only 'by chance' that he happened to arrive at this spot (not Har ha'Moriyah), a location outside Luz, 5 where he was forced to stop, since he was not able to reach Luz before sunset. 6
Ohr ha'Chayim: It hints that he needed to pray - because Esav sent Elifaz to kill him.
Da'as Zekenim: It seems that Yaakov prayed Ma'ariv before sunset. However, the Gemara (Berachos 2a) connotes that Keri'as Shema is after Tzeis ha'Kochavim! (His question assumes that Tefilah is after Keri'as Shema, like R. Yochanan (Berachos 4b), in order to Somech Ge'ulah li'Tefilah.) Refer also to 28:11:3:3 and 28:11:3.2.
Which is the literal translation of "va'Yifga."
Like the Kefitzas ha'Derech of Eliezer (Refer to 24:42:1:1) and that of Avishai ben Tzeruyah (brother of Yoav).
According to the Seforno, it was an inn where he could break his journey.
Since one should arrive in town before sunset and leave town after sunrise, as the Gemara says in Pesachim 2a.
Why does the Torah write "he stayed there overnight because the sun set;" and not simply, 'the sun set and he stayed there overnight'?
Rashi: The Pasuk implies that the sun set before its time in order that Yaakov should stay there overnight. 1
Malbim: He was afraid to go to a city at night. This shows that he lacked a spirit of Gevurah. 2
Ha'amek Davar: This shows that only lying down was at night, but he arrived there and prayed Ma'ariv during the day, like Tosfos (Berachos 26b DH Yaakov).
How many stones did he take?
Rashbam: One, as the Torah writes in 28:18.
According to Rashi, there were an unspecified number. 1
Targum Yonasan: He took four stones (corresponding to the four wives that he was destined to marry).
Ramban (to 28:17): He took twelve stones, corresponding to the number of children he was destined to have.
Divrei Eliyahu, Kol Eliyahu: We read "me'Avnei ha'Makom" like 'Avnei meha'Makom' (just like we expound "mi'Dam ha'Par..."), so we cannot say that there was only one.
What was the significance of the stones?
Rashbam, Targum Onkelus: It served him as a cushion on which to rest his head as he slept.
Seforno: The stones were placed there for guests to sit on and to use as tables. 3
Malbim: This shows that he did not have a pillow or blanket - either he left home empty, or Elifaz took everything. 4
Ha'amek Davar: Some stones were for his body to lie on - and another was for under his head, higher than the others.
Tosfos ha'Shalem (27): One suffices for a cushion, so we must say that the rest were for protection.
Having no choice, he did what he could and relied on Hashem to do the rest.
Why does it say "va'Yishkav ba'Makom ha'Hu"?
R. Nechemyah, in Bereishis Rabah (68:11): The 20 years that he was in Beis Lavan, he did not lie down.
Malbim: He did not engage in Torah first. 3
Ohr ha'Chayim: This teaches that lying down did not cause the dream [with the prophecy], rather, the Kedushah "ba'Makom ha'Hu."
Ohr ha'Chayim (based on Chulin 91b): This teaches that Hashem folded up all of Eretz Yisrael under him; he lied in the entire place.
Shem was no longer alive.
He was so absorbed in his learning, that he would sleep in a sitting position. Mishnas R. Aharon Vol. 1, p. 220 - He learned so constantly to protect him from the influence of Lavan.
Malbim: One condition for [totally clear] prophecy is that the Navi is a Chacham, i.e. he has prepared himself for investigating spiritual matters. (Even if he spent 14 years learning with awesome diligence in Beis Ever, perhaps while traveling he was distracted with worry about the influence of Lavan, and this interrupted. - PF) Refer to 28:10:3:5.
QUESTIONS ON RASHI
Rashi writes: "'He encountered the place' - ... the place that had been mentioned previously, i.e. Har ha'Moriyah." But perhaps it means he encountered Chevron, which was mentioned more recently?
Gur Aryeh #1: The definite article "the" indicates the place that we know is associated with this subject, namely, the revelation of the Shechinah.
Gur Aryeh #2: Chevron is known as a city, not a specific "place." Only Har ha'Moriyah is referred to as a "place" (22:4).
Rashi writes: "'Va'Yifga' - as in the verse, '[the border] encountered Yericho' (Yehoshua 16:7) ... but the Sages explained it as an expression of prayer." What is the word's simple meaning, and why does Rashi cite the Midrash as well?
Gur Aryeh: 'Paga' in fact means to meet or encounter. Because the verse uses this term, instead of simply saying, 'he came to the place,' the Sages interpreted "va'Yifga" as an expression of prayer.
Rashi writes: "An expression of prayer... we derive that Yaakov instituted the Arvis (evening) prayer." How can we show that he instituted it on this occasion?
Gur Aryeh: It goes without saying that Yaakov prayed [regularly]! The only reason for our verse to mention it is that with this prayer, he instituted the concept of prayer at night.
Rashi writes: "'Because the sun had set' (Ki Va ha'Shemesh) implies that the sun set on him all of a sudden, not at its proper time." How is this implied in the verse?
Gur Aryeh: Had the verse said, 'va'Yavo ha'Shemesh,' it would mean that Yaakov took note of the sun that was now setting. "Ki Va ha'Shemesh" in past tense means that there was no sunset; rather, Yaakov suddenly noticed that the sun had already disappeared below the horizon.
Rashi writes: "Yaakov instituted the Arvis prayer." Yet the Gemara (Chulin 91b) implies that after Yaakov prayed and wished to leave, Hashem caused the sun to set. That means that his prayer took place while it was still daytime, too early for Arvis!
Gur Aryeh #1: According to Rebbi Yehudah (Berachos 26a), one may recite Arvis beginning at Plag ha'Minchah (one and a quarter hours before sunset). See Tosfos to Berachos 26b.
Gur Aryeh #2: Alternatively, we may explain the Gemara in Chulin that Yaakov had intended to pray and then leave. Hashem caused the sun to set immediately, and consequently he prayed at night.
Rashi writes that "va'Yifga ba'Makom" means that Yaakov prayed there. Why does the Torah not write, 'va'Yispalel'?
Rashi: To teach us that the land 'jumped' for him (Kefitzas ha'Derech). 1
In other words, the Beis-ha-Mikdash came towards him and met him in Beis-El (the location of the top of the ladder, where he prayed), as he was returning from Charan.
Rashi writes: "The verse deviates [writing 'va'Yifga' and not 'va'Yispalel'], to teach that the earth contracted for him." But perhaps only this can be derived from the verse; how do we know that Yaakov prayed?
Gur Aryeh: The verse ought to have written that 'it met him' (va'Yifga Bo ha'Makom), as it was the earth that jumped, and 'the place' reached him in one instant. Rather, it makes Yaakov the subject, "he met the place" (va'Yifga), to include the meaning of his prayer.
Rashi writes that Yaakov had Kefitzas ha'Derech. What exactly happened?
Rashi: Refer to 28:17:2:1.
Ramban #1: When Yaakov decided to return to Har ha'Moriyah, he arrived there on the same day.
Ramban #2: When he set out from Be'er-Sheva to go to Charan, he arrived in Charan on the same day.
Ramban #3: It is possible that he had Kefitzas ha'Derech on all his travels - from Be'er-Sheva to Charan, from Charan to Har ha'Moriyah and from Har ha'Moriyah to Charan.
Riva (to 28:19): He wanted to return to Beis Kel, where Avraham had prayed. He returned immediately, and also Har ha'Moriyah jumped to there.
Rashi writes: "... To teach that the earth contracted on Yaakov's behalf." Why did this miracle occur?
Maharal #1 (Chidushei Agados Vol. 3, p. 196, to Sanhedrin 95a): Movement is a physical term, whereas the Avos were above physicality. 1 Therefore, the earth would contract [to speed them on their way].
Maharal #2 (ibid.): Yaakov was on his way to establish the Jewish People. 2 Each of the forefathers comprised the totality of Bnei Yisrael who would descend from them. They traveled their journeys as one whole, rather than step-by-step.
Rashi writes: "He put them by his head (Mera'ashosav) - he arranged them in the shape of a spout...." How is this derived?
Gur Aryeh: The letter Mem is not a prefix (that would mean [slightly away] from his head), for then it would need the vowel Tzerei, rather than a Sheva. Rather, it is a word meaning "at his head," and Yaakov's intent must have been to shield himself from wild beasts.
Rashi writes that Yaakov took more than one stone. Why does the Torah write in 28:18, that he "took the stone..."?
Hadar Zekenim: Yaakov was worried, for his father and grandfather each had an evil son, even though they had only one or two wives, and he will have four! The stones became one, to hint to him that his bed will be complete (all his children will be Tzadikim). 3
Tosfos ha'Shalem (15, citing R. Efrayim): The stones became one, to hint that Bnei Yisrael will become 'Goy Echad ba'Aretz" (Yechezkel 37:22).
Tosfos ha'Shalem (20): Do stones receive reward, that they should argue about this?! Rather, Hashem hinted to him that there will be quarrels among his four wives. (Refer to 28:11:6:3.)
Mesilas Yesharim, Perek 1: The entire world was created to serve man. It is a great elevation for all creations to serve an ideal person sanctified with Hashem's Kedushah.
Rashi writes: "... Let the Tzadik rest his head upon me!" But Rashi just wrote that Yaakov arranged the stones for protection, not to support his head!
Gur Aryeh: He must have intended to use one stone to prop up his head as well.
Rashi writes: "They began to fight with each other, saying, 'Let the Tzadik rest his head upon me!'" According to Maharal, what is the deeper meaning behind this "fight"?
Gur Aryeh: Yaakov's uniqueness, and his personal trait, was to be Kadosh 1 - i.e. above all material matters of the physical world. Hence, any matter associated with Yaakov becomes one [division shows physicality, whereas the spiritual or the Sechel ought to have oneness]. 2 Yaakov's children would later declare their loyalty to Hashem by saying, "Just as you (our father Yaakov) have only One [Hashem] in your heart, [so do we]!" (Pesachim 56a). Yaakov epitomized unifying Hashem [and to Yaakov, the many parts of Creation all combined into a single whole, proclaiming Hashem's glory]. A person's head is the seat of his unique Neshamah, and so Yaakov's head had to be supported by one unified whole. 3
Maharal (Chidushei Agados Vol. 4, p. 106, to Chulin 91b): Yisrael became one nation through Yaakov, who was above the material. He was the third of the Avos, and he balanced and unified the traits of Avraham and Yitzchak. 4 On this particular night, when Yaakov reached this level, all of the stones wanted to connect to him, and they became one, just as he was.
Also see Maharal (Netzach Yisrael Ch. 44, p. 178) - Unity may be an item that is intrinsically one, or it may be a composition of numerous individual parts that are unified towards one end. Yaakov's children unified Hashem by associating [their own belief] with that of Yaakov, meaning to join as individuals in one same way. This approach sheds light on Gur Aryeh to our verse. At first the stones "quarreled" because they were many individual units, and could not associate as such to Yaakov and his unity (as only the physical can be divided). Also see Maharal (Nesivos Olam, Nesiv ha'Avodah Ch. 7, p. 98) regarding Yaakov and unity. (EK)
Gur Aryeh (on this verse, end): Chazal teach that Yaakov brought the Shitim-wood down to Mitzrayim, with which the Bnei Yisrael would later build the Mishkan. The central stave (Beri'ach ha'Tichon) was one long pole, [miraculously] extending from end to end, unifying the planks of the Mishkan (and the twelve other staves -CS ), thus it was like the trait of Yaakov himself.
Rashi writes: "They began to fight with each other...." Do stones possess intelligence?
Gur Aryeh: The stones did not act of their own intelligence. Rather, due to their association with Yaakov, they intrinsically could not be numerous. 1 On this particular night, matters associated with Yaakov functioned above nature, for it was tonight that Yaakov would reach such a level.
Rashi writes: They began to fight with each other...." Why doesn't Rashi concur with the simple explanation - that he selected one of the nearby stones?
Gur Aryeh: The phrase 'me'Avnei ha'Makom' implies that he took a number of stones, of the many stones at that location. If he selected only one stone at the outset, there is no reason to associate it with the other stones around it. We accept Chazal's interpretation (Chulin 91b), cited by our Rashi. 1
Gur Aryeh writes vehemently against over-simplifying the Torah - when at the expense of Chazal's Derashos, and the deeper hidden meaning they convey.