In our weekly portion Va-yetze’ -וַיֵּצֵא Jacob escaped from his brother, after he stole his birthright and his blessing. Jacob went from Bee-Sheba and arrived to a place that will be called Bet-‘el (The house of God). An interstinf observation about the portion can be learn by looking at the function of the stone(s) in the story.
First it’s written in Genesis 28:11–
“.וַיִּפְגַּע בַּמָּקוֹם וַיָּלֶן שָׁם, כִּי-בָא הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ, וַיִּקַּח מֵאַבְנֵי הַמָּקוֹם, וַיָּשֶׂם מְרַאֲשֹׁתָיו; וַיִּשְׁכַּב, בַּמָּקוֹם הַהוּא”
“And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.”(KJV)
However, in Genesis 28:18 it’s written:
“וַיַּשְׁכֵּ֨ם יַעֲקֹ֜ב בַּבֹּ֗קֶר וַיִּקַּ֤ח אֶת ־ הָאֶ֙בֶן֙ אֲשֶׁר ־ שָׂ֣ם מְרַֽאֲשֹׁתָ֔יו וַיָּ֥שֶׂם אֹתָ֖הּ מַצֵּבָ֑ה וַיִּצֹ֥ק שֶׁ֖מֶן עַל ־ רֹאשָֽׁהּ “
“And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.”
One my students in High school asked- where are all the stones?
A beautiful answer was given in the Babylonian Talmud as written:
?כיצד יתכן? האם היו אלו אבנים או אבן אחת”
,אמר רבי יצחק: מלמד שנתקבצו כל אותן אבנים למקום אחד
.וכל אחת ואחת אומרת “עלי יניח צדיק זה את ראשו”. נעשו כולן אבן אחת
“How this could be? Where there (Bet-‘el) few stones or one stone? Rabbi Issac said: from this you can learn that all stones were gathered to one place and every one of them said: “I want the head of Jacob the righteous on me”. All became one stone!
(Babylonian Talmud, Chulin 91b)
This Midrash tried to solve two problems in one text: the first is the difficulty with the language (one stone or few stones); the second is the character of Jacob at this point after he was the one that cheated his brother.
What do you think about this solution? Are you satisfied with it?
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