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Chumash-Vayeitzei    Midrash Rabbah-Bereshit



(5733) "And Jacob left Beer sheba, and he went to Haran" - From the well of the (because of the) oath (Ber. Rab 68:8)  



1. On the verse (Gen 28:10):

“And Yaakov left Beer Sheba, and he went to Charan”

The Midrash (Ber. Rab 68:8) states:

“From the well of Sheba - from the well of the oath”. (מבארה של שבועה) (In other words because of the oath).

(Note: from the root, source and reason of the oath. He translates ‘Sheva” from the word “oath” - Matanot Kehuna)

”He (Yaakov) said ‘perhaps Avimelech will press me and say swear to me like your grandfather swore to me’, for if so, it will delay the happiness of my children for seven generations”.

For since, Avraham swore to Avimelech and because of the oath, it delayed Bnei Yisroel from entering the Eretz Yisroel for seven generations as it is stated in the Midrash Parshat Vayeira.

(For from the time of Avraham until the conquest of the land of Sichon and Og, by Moshe Rabbeinu, there passed seven generations)

In addition, Yitzchak also swore to Avimelech. Thus, through this they were delayed another generation

(For from Yitzchak’s time until the conquest of Eretz Yisroel by Yehoshua, seven generations also passed. We therefore find that their entering the land was delayed another generation after the seven generations from Avraham).

Therefore, Yaakov was concerned perhaps he would also be required to swear to Avimelech, and through this oath, further delay Bnei Yisroel from entering into Eretz Yisroel (“seven generations”. This means another) an additional generation.

One must understand:

Since both Avraham and Yitzchak swore to Avimelech and they were not concerned that, due to the oath, it would delay the entering of Bnei Yisroel into Eretz Yisroel. Furthermore, they did not leave the place where Avimelech lived in order to avoid swearing to him, why specifically did Yaakov fear swearing to Avimelech and to form a pact with him. So much so, that he left Beer Sheba- “from the well of the oath”. (In other words to avoid taking an oath).

The question also pertains to the other side:

How is it possible that Avraham and Yitzchak swore to Avimelech without being concerned about delaying Bnei Yisroel from entering into Eretz Yisroel?

2. The explanation of this is:

We find that that there is a difference between the level of the virtue of Avraham and Yitzchak, versus the virtue of Yaakov. According to this, a foundational difference will also be explained with regard to the Avodah of Avraham and Yitzchak versus that of Yaakov.

  • Regarding Avraham– it states “Yishmael went out from him” (he begot Yishmael).
  • Regarding Yitzchak – it states “Esau went out from him”.

In other words, Yishmael and Esau, even though they were the descendants of Avraham and Yitzchak, nevertheless, “went out” from the relationship of their parents and separated from them. For the holiness of Avraham and Yitzchak and their Avodah did not “extend” to these sons of theirs, and they did not influence them to change to good.

However Yaakov‘s virtue was that his “bed was complete” (מטתו שלימה) meaning that all of his children were righteous. For his Avodah influenced all of his twelve children that they should be “complete”. Moreover, complete in their relation to Yaakov and his level. For although (all) the Avot are the ‘chariot’ (המרכבה), (meaning that they are all a perfect vehicle for G-dliness) and that the soul of each of the Avot is from the world of Atzilut, there is a difference between them. In addition, this is even with regard to their individual Avodah in matters of transforming good and holiness.

Yaakov endeavored mainly to refine and polish the evil and to transform it permanently to good, which was not so with Avraham and Yitzchak.

Therefore, even though Yishmael did Teshuva, and some say that when Esau ran to meet Yaakov (and kissed him) – that he kissed him with all his heart, nevertheless, this did not last.

For even though Avraham and Yitzchak dealt with the Avodah of overturning evil (עבודת הבירורים), and as the Sages state (regarding Avraham) on the verse:

“and called there (vayyikra) on the name of the L-rd, the Everlasting G-d” (Genesis 21:33)”


“Do not read this word literally as “vayyikra,” and he called, but rather as “vayyakri”, and he caused others to call. This teaches that Avraham Avinu caused the name of the Holy One, Blessed be He, to be called out in the mouth of all passersby etc.”

Similarly, it is explained so regarding the Avodah of Yitzchak, in the digging of the wells.

Nevertheless their Avodah in the matters of evil and Klippah were in a manner of pushing them away and negating them (בדרך דחי׳ ושלילה), so that they would not oppose and interfere with holy matters. However, not that evil and Klippah itself should be transformed to good and holiness. For the purpose and goal of their dealings with the aspects of evil and their effects in them, was in a manner of negation (שלילה). The nullification of the opposition - and not the refining of their being.

Whereas with Yaakov, it states that he went to Charan, meaning the “place that angers G‑d”, (חרון אף של מקום) in the world. There his Avodah and influence was a positive deed (פעולה חיובית) – to refine and transform them to holiness.

Similar to this, is the difference between the Avodah of Tzaddikim and the Avodah of Baalei Teshuva:

  • The Tzaddik has no connection to the aspects of evil. So much so, that even an alien thought

() which is not G-dly, does not fall into his thought. As is explained in Tanya at length.

  • Whereas a Baal Teshuva’s aspect is to transform even the evil to holiness. So much so, that
    “willful sins are transformed into merits”.

3. Since the Avodah of Avraham and Yitzchak did not yet refine the existence of evil (of the Plishtim etc.), and they just nullified his opposition, this allowed, even the possibility, that the very being and non-good of (their children, even) Yishmael and Esau should remain at their strength. Therefore, they were not refined through the Avodah of their fathers.

(On the contrary, they “went out from them” meaning that they went entirely out of their relation to their Avodah and their holiness).

However, they also did not oppose the aspects of their fathers and they did not interfere with their Avodah. For, at the very least, when the essence of Klippah itself has no relation to holiness and it does not oppose it, it does not affect the Avodah of Avraham and Yitzchak. Therefore, its existence, in itself, is not nullified due to their Avodah.

This is like we find by Avraham that he dwelled among the Bnei Cheit. For even they recognized that he is a “prince of G-d” and that he is “among us”. Nevertheless, this had no effect on them, that they should be transformed to good. Rather they remained with the title “Bnei Cheit”, even after he dwelt among them. In addition, even their acquiescence to his request in the sale of the cave of Machpela, was just that they would not oppose his carrying out his affairs. However, their being was not transformed to a state of holiness.

However, this was not so in the Avodah of Yaakov, where his purpose was to refine, transform and polish even the aspects of the world that are on the side of Klippah and the Sitra Achra (Other side). In other words, in his Avodah, he negated even the essential being of evil – Therefore “his bed was complete”.

4. According to this, it is understood why Avraham and Yitzchak formed a pact with Avimelech and that they formed an accord with him through an oath:

The purpose of an oath and the forming of a pact, such as this, was to effect, with all power, on each of the parties that they not oppose the other side, and that they should not quarrel and fight each other. This was the very intent of Avraham and Yitzchak in swearing to Avimelech and forming a pact with him. Namely, in order that he not oppose them and interfere in their Avodah.

However, on the other side, the aspect of the oath and the forming of the covenant was not to effect a change in the being (במהותו) of Avimelech and to transform him to a being of holiness (מציאות של קדושה).

However, all this is the manner of the Avodah of Avraham and Yitzchak, as aforementioned. However with regard to Yaakov, since his manner of Avodah was to negate the very being of Klippah, through conquest and transformation – Itkafia and Ithapcha – of the Sitra Achra (other side), he was not able to form a pact and to abide with Avimelech, in his present status.

With this, the continuation of the verse,”And Yaakov left Beer Sheba, and he went to Haran” is understood, according to the explanation of the Midrash that Beer Sheva means “from the well of the oath“. For the aspect of going out “from the well of the oath“ is that from the side of his Avodah, he was not able to abide with the existence of evil in the world, as aforementioned.

Therefore, he did not stay in his place, namely in the land that “G-d's eyes are upon it etc.“. Rather he “went to Charan” the “the “place that angers G‑d”, (חרון אף של מקום) “, to refine and transform it to holiness.

5. According to this, it is also understood why Avraham and Yitzchak were not concerned about swearing to Avimelech, even though it “delayed the happiness of his children”. For in truth, the oath itself (which is the level of their Avodah) was not the cause of the delay of the entering of Bnei Yisroel to Eretz Yisroel. Rather, due to their Avodah in a manner of swearing and the forming of a covenant with Avimelech, there still remained the existence of Klippah, in its strength and being. For, as long as the evil of the world is extant and strong, this prevents and hinders the entering of Bnei Yisroel into the Land.

Only, after Yaakov; s exile into the “the “place that angers G‑d in the world”, and his Avodah with refining the aspects of Klippah and their transformation to holiness, was there able to be the “happiness of my children” in their Geulah and the entering of Bnei Yisroel into Eretz Yisroel.

6. This aspect also related to the future Geulah that will come specifically through the manner of Avodah of Yaakov. For through our Avodah during the time of Galut, in refining and polishing the “place that angers G‑d in the world”, we will merit the building of the third Beit HaMikdash.

This is as it states:

“(The Temple will ultimately be described) not as it was referred to by Avraham as a mountain etc. And not as it was referred by Yitzchak as a field etc. Rather, it will be referred to as it was by Yaakov, who called it house“.

With the coming of our righteous Moshiach.

MSichas Shabbat Parshat Vayetze, Yud Kislev 5726


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