Then he commanded the overseer of his house, saying, "Fill the men's sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man's money into the mouth of his sack. And my goblet, the silver goblet, put into the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and his purchase money." And he did according to Joseph's word, which he had spoken.
Breisheit 44:1-2

As seen before Yosef had showed closeness and camaraderie.
And he had portions brought to them from before him, and Benjamin's portion was five times as large as the portions of any of them, and they drank and became intoxicated with him.
Breisheit 43:34
How in one verse can Yosef sit, eat and drink with his brothers, then in the next verses turn around and seemingly set in motion a plot to have his brothers arrested.  Was his external actions truly reflective of what he felt in his heart? The Or HaChaim HaKadosh says that we have to look deeper to understand these issues.

Perhaps this suggest 3 things.
  1. In order to cleanse them of the sin of stealing, when they kidnapped him, he created suspicion about them so that there would be embarrassment about the sin of stealing Yosef and then they would be admonished of that sin.
  2. He also wanted to see if they were prepared to put up their own lives to save Binyamin. Then Yosef would be able to see how strong the trait of brotherhood was in the family, and also this would serve to cleanse them of their sin towards Yosef.
  3. He wanted to offer a hint about the sin they perpetrated on Yosef. Then they would begin to reflect on their actions and feel like maybe their is someone in this house that is familiar with their actions. Thus we saw earlier how Yosef tried to provide clues to them that he knew certain details about him, when he sat them "They sat before him, the firstborn according to his age, and the youngest according to his youth, and the men looked at each other in astonishment." (Breisheit 43:33).

Vayishlach - Rebranding

God said to him, "Your name is Yaacov. Your name shall no longer be called Yaacov, but Yisrael shall be your name." And He named him Yisrael.
Breisheit 35:10
Name changing has occurred on several occasions in the Torah. The most famous is the interaction with G-d and the couple, Avram and Sarai, permanently changing their names to Avraham and Sarah. So how does this compare to the episode in this week's parshah, where G-d 're-brands' Yaacov as Yisrael.

Has G-d permanently uprooted the name of Yaacov? Asks the Or HaChaim Hakadosh, what is different by Yaacov from Avraham. By Avraham we learn that calling him Avram is a transgression, but this is not the case by Yaacov.

As discussed in Mesechet Brechot
"Your name shall no longer be called YaacovIsrael shall be your name." This does not mean that the name Yaacov shall be obliterated, but that Yisrael shall be the principal name and Yisrael a secondary one.
Brechot 12B-13A (Soncino Translation)
Avraham is Completely Renamed
This differs from nature of how Avraham is renamed. There is agreement in Mesechet Brechot that Avraham's name change is permanent and to the core, but opinions differ as why.
Bar Kappara taught: Whoever calls Avraham Avram transgresses a positive precept, since it says, Thy name shall be Avraham.(Gen. 17:5)  R. Eliezer says: He transgresses a negative command,  since it says, Neither shall thy name any more be called Avram (Gen. 17:5)
Brechot 13A (Soncino translation)  
What is the significance of this name change? Why go so far to debate why this identity must be changed?

Vayetzei - Hidden Secrets

The second aliya starts off with the verse:
And he looked, and behold! a well in the field, and behold! Three flocks of sheep lying beside it, because from that well they would water the flocks, and a huge rock was upon the mouth of the well.

 וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה בְאֵר בַּשָּׂדֶה וְהִנֵּה שָׁם שְׁלֹשָׁה עֶדְרֵי צֹאן רֹבְצִים עָלֶיהָ כִּי מִן הַבְּאֵר הַהִוא יַשְׁקוּ הָעֲדָרִים וְהָאֶבֶן גְּדֹלָה עַל פִּי הַבְּאֵר
Breisheit 29:2

Yaacov's arrival at this well is not happenstance, but is filled with deeper meaning. The commentators take different approaches as to what this verse comes to symbolically communicate.

Quoting the Midrash, the Ramban says that this verse gives us a peak at the future. That Yaacov 'happens upon' a well, guarded by 3 flocks of sheep, and covered by a great stone - is all significant.

  • Well: a metaphor for the Beit HaMikdash (the Temple).
  • 3 flocks of sheep: 3 pilgrimiges to Jerusalem (Succot, Pesach, Shavuot)
  • From that  well: this is (The Beit HaMikdash) that the flocks (pilgrims) should drink from (imbibe the Holy Spirit)
  • Return the rock onto the mouth of the well: this is closing the well (Beit HaMikdash) until the next festival
Another metaphor 
for out of Zion shall the Torah come forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
Yeshayahu 2:3
For Torah is compared to water (coming out of the well) as it says in the Gemarah
Sow to yourselves in charity, reap in kindness; again, water [in this connection] signifies ‘the law’ as stated, "Ho! All who thirst, go to water" (Yeshayahu 55:1).
Baba Kama 17A

Kli Yakar
The Kli Yakar also reveals the hidden meanings encoded in this verse.

  • 3 flocks of sheep: 3 [leaders from the Torah] that met their wives at a well - Yitzhak, Yaacov, and Moshe
  • Well: metaphor for women
  • 3 flocks of sheep: 3 partners in creation - Man, Woman, and G-d
  • From that well: the offspring drink all their sustenance from these 3 partners
  • Huge rock was upon the mouth of the well: this is the essence of the modest woman, her true beauty locked away from the world
  • Return the rock onto the mouth of the well: that the inner beauty of the woman is not revealed to everyone (only her husband), and after they are intimate she returns to her modest form (the stone is rolled back)

Rabbeinu Behaye
All of the Avot (Avraham, Yitzhak, and Yaacov) encountered episodes with a well.

  • Well: represents the Beit HaMikdash, for that is the structure that will be constructed in the future for their offspring (the Jewish people)
    From out of the metaphorical well comes Torah, for Torah is represented as water.

 וְהִנֵּה שָׁם שְׁלֹשָׁה עֶדְרֵי צֹאן
The word "שם" (there) seems to be superfluous.
But we get a hint at the significance of this word from Yehezkel.
So I arose and went out to the plain and behold, there the glory of the L-rd was standing, like the glory that I saw by the river Chebar, and I fell on my face.
Yehezkel 3:23

  • 3 flocks of sheep: this represents Am Yisrael - the 3 is the 3 parts of Am Yisrael, Kohen, Levi and Yisrael
  • 3 flocks of sheep: represents the three set times for visiting the Beit HaMikdah (Succot, Pesach, and Shavuot)
כִּי מִן הַבְּאֵר הַהִוא יַשְׁקוּ הָעֲדָרִים וְהָאֶבֶן גְּדֹלָה עַל פִּי הַבְּאֵר

This verse further hints at the name of G-d where we see the YudKayVavkay.

Here we have three of the letters of the name of G-d. This is in the words of the verse dealing with providing drink to the flock, reprentative of the flocks getting spiritual sustenance from G-d.
And where is the last letter?

The word "גְּדֹלָה " comes to represent the enlarged DALET at the of the word ECHAD in the Kryiat Shma, since this DALET is bigger than the rest of the letters. So from the end of this word we take the final letter for constructing the name of G-d.

Vayetzei - Navigating the Road Ahead

In the opening scenes of the parshah, following the vision of angels going up and down the ladder, Yaacov suddenly saw G-d. G-d appears to Yaacov in splendor and glory, blessing him and his offspring, and makes the following promise.

And behold, I am with you, and I will guard you wherever you go, and I will restore you to this land, for I will not forsake you until I have done what I have spoken concerning you.
Breisheit 28 13-15
So with blessings and promises, and a direct vision from G-d, Yaacov would seem to be 'set.' We would have thought that Yaacov was bursting with enthusiasm and ready to embark on the journey he had started.

Yet, just a few pasukim later, upon waking, he displays a far different reaction. He was frightened and says:

וַיִּדַּר יַעֲקֹב נֶדֶר לֵאמֹר אִם יִהְיֶה אֱ־לֹהִים עִמָּדִי וּשְׁמָרַנִי בַּדֶּרֶךְ הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי הוֹלֵךְ וְנָתַן לִי לֶחֶם לֶאֱכֹל וּבֶגֶד לִלְבֹּשׁ
And Jacob uttered a vow, saying, "If G-d will be with me, and He will guard me on this way, upon which I am going, and He will give me bread to eat and a garment to wear;
And if I return in peace to my father's house, and the Lord will be my G-d;
Then this stone, which I have placed as a monument, shall be a house of G-d, and everything that You give me, I will surely tithe to You.
Breisheit 28 20-22
This seems like an odd reaction, considering the complete divine protection that he was offered just a few verses earlier.  Shouldn’t Yaacov's reaction have been more confident?

  1. Why is Yaacov asking “if” G-d will be with him, didn’t  G-d Himself just promised him  directly that He would be with him?
  2. Why does Yaacov vow by the name of G-d as KeloKim (the name of Judgement), while G-d Himself presented himself by the name YudKayVavKay (the name of mercy) – especially when Yaacov’s vow is about having mercy and doing him chesed?
  3. Why does Yaacov seem to present conditions for a deal to G-d, stating “terms up front” that need to be fulfilled in order for him to dedicate himself to G-d? Shouldn’t faith prevail, especially having received  divine promises?
  4. Why is Yaacov’s first concern about materialistic protection? Like bread and clothes?
  5. Why does Yaacov stipulate his conditions that for fulfillment of terms, he will “tithe” ( עַשֵּׂר אֲעַשְּׂרֶנּוּ לָךְ) – we say the Avot already kept mitzvoth, now he wants make a mitzvah conditional?

The commentators address these issues.

Question #1
Why is Yaacov asking “if” G-d will be with him

Says The Kli Yakar:

Heaven forbid that one should say that Yaacov was in doubt about the direct promises from G-d. Since as we saw, G-d already said 'I am with you. I will protect you wherever you go.'
Rather The Kli Yakar says, Yaacov wasn’t asking for physical protection, since he was already promised that. 

Really Yaacov was requesting protection for his soul against the possibility of coming to sin.
We can see this directly in the words of G-d's promise:

וְהִנֵּה אָנֹכִי עִמָּך וּשְׁמַרְתִּיךָ בְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר תֵּלֵךְ וַהֲשִׁבֹתִיךָ אֶל הָאֲדָמָה הַזֹּאת כִּי לֹא אֶעֱזָבְךָ עַד אֲשֶׁר אִם עָשִׂיתִי אֵת אֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתִּי לָךְ
Breisheit 28:15
G-d had promised to him to ‘bring you back to this soil' - where the return to the land of Israel was under G-d's divine supervision. While Yaacov's response was 'and if I return in peace to my father's house' .
  • G-d promised to return Yaacov only 'to this soil'
  • Yaacov asked for protection to return all the way 'to my father's house.'

We can conclude that they were talking about two different journeys.

Question #2
Why does Yaacov vow by the name of G-d as KeloKim

The Gemarah in Brechot states:
R. Yacov b. Iddi points to a contradiction. One verse reads: "And behold, I am with you, and I will guard you wherever you go," and the other verse reads: "And he was frightened!"
[The answer is that] he [Yaacov] thought that some sin might cause [God's promise not to be fulfilled].
Brechot 4A
So after receiving a divine promise, how can Yaacov lack confidence, but be in fear?

Says the Netivot Shalom: G-d’s promises were presented in the name of YudKayVavKay, which is a name representing the trait of divine mercy. And because of this Yaacov was afraid!

What did he fear? He feared that if he should slip up and sin, then this divine mercy would be lost and he would have to face the alternative – the trait of divine, uncompromising judgement.

So from this concern, already at the outset he takes 'precautionary measures' and invokes the trait of judgement, expressed in the name - KeloKim. Sensing how vulnerable he feels on the journey he is embarking on, and out of concern that he may slip up in his journey, he asks for divine judgement to be at his side from the start.

Question #3
Why does Yaacov seem to present conditions for a deal to G-d, stating his “terms up front” that need to be fulfilled

In comparing the differences between the promises of G-d to the responses of Yaacov, we see that Yaacov's focus and concern was to be protected from sin.

Says the Kli Yakar:

Protection from sin, or to not come to the point of actually sinning, this is dependent on our personal choices. 

But to be protected from being confronted with the possibility of sinning, this can only be provided by divine intervention. G-d's statement to Yaacov referred to providing him physical protection in the statement 'I will protect you wherever you go.' The pasuk uses the expresseion - 'wherever' (BKOL).  In life, all roads are dangerous and many paths lie before us to go on.

Yet Yaacov said 'protect me on this journey that I am taking.' And in response, G-d directs Yaacov to the special path that Yaacov should specifically go on, to be protected on.
What is that path? 
It is the Path of G-d and Torah and Mitzvot. 

We can see this directly in the words of G-d's promise 'I will protect you wherever you go' - where the word ANOCHI seems to be superfluous.

וְהִנֵּה אָנֹכִי עִמָּך וּשְׁמַרְתִּיךָ בְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר תֵּלֵךְ וַהֲשִׁבֹתִיךָ אֶל הָאֲדָמָה הַזֹּאת כִּי לֹא אֶעֱזָבְךָ עַד אֲשֶׁר אִם עָשִׂיתִי אֵת אֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתִּי לָךְ
Breisheit 28:15

And so the word 'ANOCHI' is added. This is to emphasize that divine protection is required to protect us when confronted with sinful influences and places. This is what Yaacov meant when he said 'protect me' and let me return 'complete' - meaning protected from sin and a complete person, devoid of sin.

Question #4 Why is Yaacov’s first concern for material protection?

Concerning physical protection, Yaacov was covered. G-d said 'I will protect you wherever you go' since  we have physical protection in Eretz Yisrael,  then we need  this protection when going out of Eretz Yisrael. G-d also promised to Yaacov 'and bring you back to this soil,' so Yaacov was ensured physical protection for  the full, round trip, back to Eretz Yisrael.

However Yaacov's concern was really about spiritual protection. He was concerned about not learning from the ways of Lavan. And not just Lavan, but also from the Canaanites and Emory in Eretz Yisrael. That is why Yaacov made his personal request stating 'and if I return in peace to my father's house' - not that he should be physically protected until reaching his father's house, but that Yaacov should be protected from the influence of sin throughout his journey (to not learn from Lavan, not be influenced by Canaanites, and Emory).

Then why Bread and clothes?

Yaacov was not looking to benefit materially, and we see this in 'if He gives me bread to eat and clothing to wear' - where Yaacov asks for specifically these items. Yaacov wants to emphasize that he only needs to receive the most basic sustenance. This is to provide him the level of assurance that he should not be put under stress  out of of providing for himself, and driven to sin. Morever, if Yaacov's motives were for material gain, then he should have asked for  valuable goods like gold and pearls.

Question #5 why does Yaacov conclude with an offer to tithe?

Adds the Netivot Shalom:
Our Rabbis have taught: It is forbidden for a man to enjoy anything of this world without a blessing, and if anyone enjoys anything of this world without a blessings,  it is as if he stole from Hakadosh Baruch Hu.
Brechot 35A
The importance of making a brechah is that you make Hashem a partner in your actions, and in your life. But when you take advantage of this world without a brechah, you take the opposite approach and you alienate Hashem. As it says in Mishlei:
איש תהפוכות ישלח מדון, ונרגן מפריד אלוף
A perverse man incites quarrel, and a grumbler alienates the Lord.
Mishlei 16:28
Yaacov’s offer of tithes (maser) was not an attempt on his part to take on a new Mitzvah, rather this was his effort in taking his first steps into Olam Hazeh. Until this point, Yaacov had nothing to do with this world. He was a part of the spirituality of Yitzhak.  He was the quintessential yeshiva bochur. The Ish Tam. He didn't know anything about 'office politics.' Now his life stood at a crossroads, and was taking a turn, going down into this world. 

He we would be getting married, having children, going to work – and all in the house of Lavan – the most impure place possible.

So Yaacov’s vow is a way for him to deal with this upheaval, of this profound change in his life, of confronting the challenges of this world.  To be better prepared to handle the material and take on the challenges of this world - Olam HaZeh - he seeks to immediately establish that all his material gains should be transformed to spiritual ones, by declaring all his material growth to be bound to tithes - to have a spiritual value. 

This approach is also reflected in the vision of the ladder. The ladder's base is in this world, but the top (the head if you will) is in heaven.


So we see that this event goes far from representing self-doubt by Yaacov, and is not at all a form of 'striking a deal'. What we see here is a true dialog. G-d offers to provide physical protection and guidance. Yaacov accepts this implicitly and turns the discussion to the fate of his soul, asking for different ways to be protected from the  sinful influences of the world around him.

This provides us a guide for all of  our daily struggles. Every day, we go on journeys and leave the safety of our homes, and risk entering the world. On our journeys we are physically vulnerable to the dangers all around us. 

In life, we are really on a more important journey – a journey of the soul. This mission is constantly under attack, as we are bombarded by media messages selling us all kinds of foreign values and tempting us. Just as Yaacov was sensitive to the frailties of the human condition and  inherent weakness, he looked to G-d for guidance and protection, so as to ensure the success of his journey. For us, this provides us a good model for taking extra measures for navigating the road ahead in our own lives, and protecting our own souls.