The Torah Revealed: Talmudic Masters Unveil the Secrets of the Bible

By Avraham Yaakov Finkel | Go to book overview

7
Torah Portion
Yayetzei
Genesis 28:10–32:3

JACOB'S VISION

(28:11) Jacob came to a familiar place and spent the night there because the sun had already set. Taking some stones, he placed them at his head and lay down to sleep there.


The Talmud Teaches

He came to a familiar place The earth shrank for our father Jacob, for it says “Jacob left Beer-sheba and went to Haran, and he arrived there” (28:10). Then it says “He came to a familiar place—that is, Beth El—and slept there because the sun had already set.”

NOTE: The two verses seem to contradict each other. First, he arrived in Haran, which is far beyond the borders of Eretz Yisrael; and then, he spent the night in Beth El, which is inside Eretz Yisrael, implying that he did not go as far as Haran!

The Gemara explains: This is what happened: Jacob did get as far as Haran, but once he reached Haran, he said to himself: Is it possible that I passed the place where my fathers prayed, that is, Beth El, and I did not pray there myself? I must go back to Beth El and correct my oversight. And as soon as he thought of going back, the earth between Haran and Beth El shrank for him, so that he instantly found himself back in Beth El. That is why immediately after Jacob reached Haran it says

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