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(5748) Rashi (Gen. 30:20): "will live with me: An expression of a dwelling place, his principal dwelling will be only with me" - in Avodat HaAdam

The connection between the avodah of business people (Zebulun) and learning Torah (Yaakov) in the aspect of miaking a dwelling place ("dirah betachtonim") for G-d in this world.  



1. Concerning the reason for the name “Zevulun”, the verse states:

 “And Leah said, etc. Now my husband will make his home with me, for I have borne him six sons. She named him “Zevulun.”

Rashi comments:

“Having a similar meaning as “beit zevul” - a dwelling, From now on his main dwelling place will be only with me, for I have as many sons as all of his wives together.”

Even though the name “Zevulun” (“Having a similar meaning as “beit zevul”) in simplicity depicts an aspect that refers to Lavan, “Now my husband” – nevertheless, it is known that the name of a person has a connection to his essence and being.

(As is explained in the holy sefarim/books, the names of people are “not by coincidence, or because of the father or mother’s desire to call him that”. But rather it is “G-d” that puts the wisdom into the hearts of the father and mother to call him a name that refers to the source of the soul of the son. And how much more so does this apply to the names that the Matriarchs gave, for they were prophets. And they certainly recognized (with their prophecy and holy spirit) the essence of the soul of their sons – and in conjunction thereof called them their names")

It appears that the topic of the name “Zevulun” has a connection to Zevulun himself, for he was called this name. But this is not a contradiction to that which:

“Now my husband will make his home with me” (which refers to Lavan) –

for one could say that they are dependent upon each other:

This itself, that with the birth of Zevulun, there must be the: “main dwelling place” of Jacob in the tent of Lavan, is not because with him, the quota of “six sons” was attained, but rather that this is also relevant to the aspects and quality of Zevulun (that was added to his then (being) “in the tent of Leah”)

According to this, there is room to question:

The aspect of Jacob was – Torah study, as it states: “Yaakov was a man without fault, living in tents”, referring to “the tent of Shem and the tent of Ever”.

However the aspect of Zevulun was (like the blessing of Jacob to Zevulun):

 “Zevulun (will settle) on seashores etc.”, (and as Rashi states:) “For Zevulun was engaged in commerce”.

 Therefore how is it possible to say that, specifically the aspect of “Zevulun” established the “main dwelling” of Jacob?

2. It is seemingly possible to explain this according to a saying of the Sages on the verse: “Rejoice Zevulun at your departure; and Yissachar in your tents.” , that:

“Zevulun and Yissachar entered into a partnership. Zevulun departs to engage in maritime trade, gain profit, and provide sustenance for Yissachar, while they remained occupied with Torah study. Zevulun therefore precedes Yissachar etc.” –

for it is known that the sequential order in Torah represents a prefacing of quality. Therefore since Zevulun (is mentioned first) in dealing with the support of Torah, he has a quality that surpasses Yissachar.

Yet it is difficult to say that this quality (of supporting Torah) should be a determining factor in the establishment of the dwelling place of Jacob, when his main quality and importance was that of Torah – for how could the ‘dwelling” of Jacob be dependent on a “place” that deals with commerce,

(even if we grant that the intent of the dealings are only for the purpose of supporting Torah)

and not in the place of the tents of Torah itself?

This is particularly so, according to the precise wording of Rashi (who states): “the main dwelling place” of Jacob (since it is “beit zevul”) – for one could say that this is the innovation of “beit zevul” regarding dwelling/dirah:

  • Dirah/dwelling used simply could imply a temporary dwelling (dirat arai).
  • However, “zevul” depicts a permanent home (bayit kavuah).

(And this is why the term “beit zevul” is used in conjunction with the Beit HaMikdash – “I have indeed built a house of dwelling/“beit zevul” for You, a place for You to dwell forever”. It is called a “beit zevul” since it is a permanent dwelling of G-d, in a manner of: “a place for You to dwell forever”, an everlasting dwelling).

in other words: The important quality of Zevulun is not just in a plain dwelling, but rather is connected with “his main dwelling” – the permanent dwelling of Jacob.

3. However, we find an example of this aspect also during the life of Jacob himself:

In our Parsha, it speaks at length regarding Jacob‘s residing in Lavan’s house for twenty years. For seemingly, in that period, Jacob was not in the environment/oholah of Torah, but rather he dealt with sheparding Lavan‘s flocks. And in accordance with the laws of Torah, he worked in a manner of: “With all my strength I served etc. in the day etc., in the night etc.”  Indeed from Jacob’s conduct in the house of Lavan, we learn how a laborer must work, as is explained in Rambam etc.

Yet, not only, specifically during this period, did Jacob “wax exceedingly great” (vaYifroth haIsh me’od me’od), success above limit and boundary,

(two times “me’od” – and it is understood that this also includes (and on the contrary- mainly) spiritual success (specifically since it is talking about the Patriarchs) who were a “vehicle/merkava”, all of their lives, to the Supernal Will, and how much more so that other Tzaddikim - for their lives are not physical lives but rather spiritual lives) –

but additionally, specifically in the house of Lavan, Jacob set up the Shiftei Yisroel (tribes of Yisroel) (except for Binyamin), and he established his house, Beit Yisroel, where each one of them has a holy soul, and are included in the soul of Jacob – for this is the quality of Jacob, the endeared/bechir of the Patriarchs who had “a complete couch/mitaso sheleima”, not like Avraham and Yitzchak who: “came out from them” Yishmael and Eisav.

This is not understood:

How was it possible for Jacob to attain spiritual success (not during the period that he occupied himself with Torah etc.) specifically when he was a laborer and in the house of Lavan?

4. One could say that the point of the explanation is:

The Sages state: “Tzaddikim . . resemble their Creator. From this it is understood that the meaning of “main dwelling” of Jacob is in the context of the explanation of the “dwelling place” of G-d.

The saying of the Sages that:”G-d desired an abode below” is known. In other words, the “dwelling“ of G-d is not in the supernal worlds, which are not physical worlds, but specifically in this lower physical world. So much so, it is as the Alter Rebbe states: “it (this world) is of such a low level, that there is no lower than it”.

And this is the intent and purpose of the Avodah of Bnei Yisroel, specifically during the period of Galut, that through their Avodah in refining and polishing the world,

(by performing Mitzvot with physical objects, and also by acting (in a manner that:”All your deeds are for the sake of Heaven” – for through this they sanctify the physical objects with which they serve G-d)

they make the world a proper receptacle for Supernal Holiness. And when they complete this Avodah (with the coming of Moshiach) the whole world will be a “dwelling” for G-d.

With this, the two aspects of “Zevulun” is understood. Both:

  1. The name Zevulun from the phrase “Beit Zevul”, a permanent dwelling.
  2. And the aspect of Zevulun: a businessman (and not a Torah scholar) -

For the drawing down of holiness into the physicality of the world is primarily through the Avodah of businessmen (baalei iskim). For through their dealing with physical aspects of the world for the sake of heaven, and by keeping Mitzvot etc. – they make this physical world a dwelling/dirah for G-d

for with the Avodah of Zevulun they make the “beit zevul” - a dwelling/dirah for G-d.

And this is the reason for prefacing Zevulun (businessmen) to Yissachar (Torah scholars) - (as it states:) "Rejoice Zevulun at your departure; (and afterwards) and Yissachar in your tents.” (as mentioned above Par. 2) - because in the aspect of making an above/dirah for G-d, which is specifically in the “lower/tachtonim” world, in the physicality of the world “that there is no lower than it” – there is an advantage of the Avodah of “Zevulun” over that of Yissachar.

(And one could say that this is the reason that we see that, until the period where ‘their work will be performed by others’ – after the coming of Moshiach - the majority of Bnei Yisroel are businessmen and not Torah scholars.

And this corresponds to the words of the Sages:

“Many have followed etc.

(i.e. Rashi’ Yishmael’s advice of combining Torah study with a worldly occupation’) 

Yishmael, and it has worked well etc. while others have followed R' Simeon b. Yochai and it has not been successful”,

and Torah speaks to the majority – for to complete this purpose - to make this world an abode/dirah for G-d – it is accomplished mainly through “Zevulun” specifically, as explained above.

According to all that was mentioned above also, it can also be understood regarding Jacob that:

  1. Since the abode/dirah of G-d is specifically in the lower worlds, therefore even the establishment of the “main dwelling” of Jacob (since Tzaddikim resemble their Creator, as above) is specifically connected with the aspect of “Zevulun” – Avodah with the physicality of the world.
  2. His deeds in establishing the Shevatim/tribes – for this was the foundation of the Am Yisroel, as above – was specifically in “Charan”, “Charan Af/anger of the place (in the world) – in a place where “there was no lower than it” and in a period where the manner of Jacob‘s Avodah was similar to the Avodah of “Zevulun” – not a Torah scholar but a laborer in the house of Lavan.

5. However, there still, seemingly, is lacking explanation:

At the end of it all, the aspect of Jacob was Torah, as above. And, as is known regarding the three pillars that the world stands on: Torah, Avodah and Gemillat Chassadim – that they correspond to the three Patriarchs – that Jacob corresponds to the line of Torah.

Therefore, even if there is an advantage to Zevulun, nevertheless this is seemingly not a reason, that this advantage should determine the main dwelling place of Jacob - for what is the connection and relevance of this advantage of Zevulun to the aspect of JacobTorah?

This can be explained by prefacing an additional explanation in the quality of the Avodah of Zevulun. For specifically through this Avodah is the world made an abode for G-d.

For seemingly:

The advantage of the aspect of Zevulun is only during his Avodah – when they are (still) engaging in refining and polishing the aspects of the world to make them receptacles for holiness (while it is still) before (the period where) the entire world will be transformed to an abode for G-d.

However, after the completion of the Avodah, where the prophecy of: “And I will remove the spirit of impurity from the world” will be fulfilled, then there is , seemingly, no need for the Avodah of Zevulun. As the Sages state that then: “Their work will be performed by others”.

(And to note that that the Alter Rebbe states that: “not only this but that in the Future there will be no Avodah to refine good from bad but rather just elevation in holiness itself.)

Moreover, when our righteous Moshiach comes, then (as Rambam writes): “The occupation of the entire world will just be to know G-d ..His Torah will be his occupation”.

We thus find, seemingly, that the Avodah of Zevulun is a temporary aspect, and it does not possess any eternality/nitzchius. Therefore, how does it fit that, specifically through the Avodah of Zevulun, the aspect of “abode” and “Beit Zevul” – a permanent dwelling (as it were) of G-d - is accomplished?

It would have been more reasonable to say that the permanent abode of G-d would be accomplished through the aspect of Torah - For Torah is eternal and will not be exchanged (Lo t’hiyeh muchlefes), it stands for ever and for all eternity” (Omedes l’Olam u’lOlmei Olamim).

6. One could say the explanation in this is:

A permanent and eternal “abode/dirah” is not applicable unless the thing itself is eternal. Thus Yisroel and Torah, since they are attached to G-d are eternal. Therefore that which the “dirah” is made specifically through the Avodah of Zevulun is,

not due to the essential act of polishing and refining of the world, which is just a temporary aspect, as mentioned above, but)

because, through this Avodah, the strength and eternality of Yisroel and Torah becomes revealed.

This is also why the verse states: “because the L-rd, your G-d, is testing you to know whether you love the L-rd, your G-d, etc.” for through tests, the power of love to G-d, is revealed

It is similarly explained in another place (Likkutei Sichos) regarding the explanation of the words of Rambam concerning:

  • A Baal Teshuva who “Tasted the taste of sin yet abstains from it and subdued his inclination”
  • And the advantage of Tzaddikim that: “They have never sinned” -

For Tzaddikim - one who has never 'tasted the taste of sin', it is not certain that he will be able to maintain his righteousness under all circumstances, especially if they are trials that he is not used to etc. Therefore, the strength that is required to withstand these tests will not come to actuality and will not be revealed.

However, for a Baal Teshuva who - “Tasted the taste of sin yet abstains from it and subdued his inclination”, his strength has been revealed and come to actuality, and he will not stumble again. (In the words of Rambam: (He must reach the level where) "He who knows the hidden will testify concerning him that he will never return to this sin again”).

So too is our case:

As long as Bnei Yisroel do not have business dealings with the aspects of the world to polish and refine them, even though they study Torah and perform service to G-d – nevertheless, the strength and eternality of their souls will not yet come to be revealed and certainly not to actuality in their Avodah. Therefore this Avodah does not, in reality, make an abode for G-d.

Specifically with the Avodah of Zevulun, who dealt in the “tachtonim/world” – where there is no lower world than this in the aspect of the hiding of G-d’s light – yet nevertheless, they occupy themselves with Torah and keep Mitzvot etc. - this reveals the strength to be completely attached with G-d. And with this they make an “abode/dirah” for the Divine presence in a permanent and eternal manner.

And this is the connection to the future “abode” that will be after the completion of Avodah (of the entire duration of Galut).

For even though: “The occupation of the entire world will be solely to know G-d.. Therefore, the Jews will be great sages etc.“ , studying Torah in a manner of Torah as an occupation - for the aspect of “Dirah” a permanent abode of G-d, will be revealed with the Torah study of Yisroel.

Yet in order for this dealing to be at the epitome of completion (tachlit haShleimut) , it must be after the Avodah that is performed in the entire duration of Galut.

According to the above, it is understood that there is no contradiction between the two aspects of Jacob:

  1. That his aspect is Torah, as mentioned above.
  2. The completeness of his success in the manner of: “the man waxed exceedingly great (me’od me’od)” and his establishing the tribes of Yisroel etc.

that they came specifically during the period and through his Avodah in the house of Lavan.

For in order for the Torah to be with Jacob in a permanent and eternal (manner) without any limitation (“me’od me’od”) – it needed to come through Jacob‘s being in the “Charan Af/anger of the place (in the world) – and where he was a shepard (Lavan’s laborer). For then the aspect of: “the man waxed exceedingly great (me’od me’od)” was drawn down and revealed in his Torah and Avodah, above all limitation and boundary.

7. This aspect – that the advantage that is caused by the Avodah of “Zevulun” in polishing and refining the world, will be revealed in the Torah study in the days of Moshiach – also has an actual ramification (nafka mina) in the Avodah of today (now).

Even though the majority of “Zevulun‘s” time is spent with dealing with mundane matters of the world (for the sake of heaven etc.) – nevertheless he is required to set times for Torah study, and also to pray (la’asok b’Avodat haTefilah).

And according to what was previously explained, it is understood, that the explanation in this is that

         ,not just that businessmen are also required to study Torah and pray but-

the completeness of the quality of Zevulun compared to Yissachar,

        (that through their Avodah, they make an abode for G-d, a permanent and eternal abode)

is revealed within them, with their Avodah in Torah and prayer.

And one could say the proof of this is, when in the midst of their interaction with mundane matters - they perform their Avodah properly and make and “abode”. And all this illuminates in a permanent manner when his study and Avodah on Shabbat

(for then he is free from commerce)

is in a very,lofty manner, even more than the Avodah of a Torah scholar.

And one could say that this is the intent of the Alter Rebbe in his famous letter/Iggeret (ep. 1), who writes:

“On the Sabbaths and festivals, however, when all the businessmen, too, have the time and opportunity to pray at length, devoutly concentrating their heart and soul to G-d, - moreover, their duty to do so is much greater ( b’yeser s’eis v’yeser oz) -

For one could say that the intent (0f this) is not just related to the obligation,

that falls upon them with greater force (b’yeser s’eis v’yeser oz) (more than that of a Torah scholar who has time to pray at length, even during the weekdays)

but also that their “Avodat HaTefilah” is with greater force and greater strength (b’yeser s’eis v’yeser oz) – more than that of the prayer of Torah scholars.

Similarly, the Alter Rebbe explains elsewhere (in Torah Or) that:

“This is the mistake of the businessmen who feel that they are not able to pray as much as the Torah scholars, for on the contrary, it is the opposite, for they are able to pray with more effectiveness (yotair) since there is “advantage of light which specifically comes from the darkness” (yisron ha’or min ha’choshech davka)”

And as is explained there, it is specifically (because) during the week, one is engrossed in earning a living (iskei parnassa) etc., therefore, afterwards, during prayer, one is able to awaken within themselves an unlimited love (“b’chol me’odecha).

The same apples to setting times for Torah – that there is an advantage of businessmen setting times for Torah study because it is the more of the level of “iskafia” (subjugating and subordinating the material nature of the body) than Torah scholars. For by a businessman, subjugating himself etc. (against his preoccupation (tirdaso) with aspects of the world), he accomplishes that his Torah study is in a loftier manner than that of Torah scholars.

And this is the concrete lesson for most of Bnei Yisroel – whose manner of Avodah is like the Avodah of businessmen (and also those who are involved with the needs of the community (oskim b’tzarchei tzibbus) fall into this category):

At the onset, one must increase in setting times for Torah. And this 'set' time must be in a manner that is set in one’s soul. And on Shabbat, one must also involve oneself with prayer (Avodat HaTefilah), at length.

And this is not an additional thing to their main mission (shlichus) of making the world a “beit zevul” for G-d but rather they are intertwined:

The advantage of “beit zevul”, which is accomplished through their Avodah, reveals itself within them in their Torah study and in their Avodah in prayer, specifically with lengthy prayer on Shabbat.

And through this we bring closer the (Era of the Redemption which is referred to as:) “the Day which is entirely Shabbos, and repose for life everlasting.” (yom shekulo Shabbos u’menucha lchayei olamim), speedily and in our days, mammosh.

M’Sichas Shabbat Parshat Vayikra 5742,      Leil Sukkot 5743)




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