שביבי אש
לסדר ויצא

וְהָאֶבֶן הַזֹּאת אֲשֶׁר שַׂמְתִּי מַצֵּבָה יִהְיֶה בֵּית אֱלֹקִים

And this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be G-d's house (Genesis 28:22)

See Rashi and the Ramban, who each in his own way, explains the words "shall be G-d's house" (יִהְיֶה בֵּית אֱלֹקִים). But whoever reflects about these commentaries will see that their explanations are forced. And see how Rashi, the Ramban, and Ibn Ezra, commenting on the verse in פרשת שופאים "And you shall not set up a pillar which the Lord your G-d hates" (Deuteronomy 16:22), explain how Jacob could have erected a pillar.

But our master suggested a new interpretation, which is that Jacob our father saved himself from any transgression in erecting this pillar by saying that it should be the house of G-d, and not a pillar which G-d hates. For the difference between a pillar and an altar (מזבח), as the Ramban explains here, is that a pillar is a single stone and an altar is built with many stones. But the pillar that Jacob erected was also from many stones, because Jacob had taken "from the stones of the place" (מאבני המקום), and they were transformed miraculously into a single stone, according to the explanation of Hazal which is quoted here by Rashi. Jacob therefore said "and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be G-d's house," and G-d will not hate it because it was made from many stones.

וַתַּהַר לֵאָה וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן וַתִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ רְאוּבֵן כִּי אָמְרָה כִּי רָאָה יְהוָה בְּעָנְיִי

And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, "Surely the Lord has looked upon my affliction (Genesis 29:32)

Rashi comments that our Sages explained (Berahot 7b) that she said, "see (רְאוּ) the difference between (בֵּן) my son and the son of my father-in-law. The son of my father-in-law voluntarily sold his birthright, for it is written: "And he sold his birthright unto Jacob." And, nonetheless, behold, it is written of him: "And Esau hated Jacob," and it is also written: "And he said, is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times." My son, however, although Joseph took his birthright from him against his will -- as it is written: "But, for as much as he defiled his father's couch, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph," -- was not jealous of him. For it is written: "And Reuben heard it, and delivered him out of their hand."

And the question arises what prompted the Sages to interpret the name Reuben in this way and why they did not accept the explicit statement of the Scripture that she named him Reuben because G-d saw her affliction.

And it appears to our master that while the names of all the other sons of Jacob are recorded only after the reason for the name is given, here the Scripture first records the name and then provides the reason for the name. So it must be that Leah had another hidden reason, which she did not want to reveal. And that is the reason given by our Sages: "see the difference between my son and the son of my father-in-law." But she was not permitted to disclose this reason, just as Isaac was not permitted to disclose to Jacob what had happened to Joseph. She therefore had to state a different reason for the name, which is the one recorded by the Scripture.

וַיַּצֵּל אֱלֹקִים אֶת מִקְנֵה אֲבִיכֶם וַיִּתֶּן לִי

Thus has G-d has taken away the sheep of your father, and given them to me (Genesis 31:9)

It may be questioned why the Scripture writes "אֲבִיכֶם" which is a masculine form, when elsewhere it writes the appropriate feminine form "אֲבִיכֶן". And the explanation of our master is based upon the Scripture below (31:14): "Is there any portion or inheritance left to us in our father's house?" (הַעוֹד לָנוּ חֵלֶק וְנַחֲלָה בְּבֵית אָבִינוּ) Rashi understands this to mean, "Can we at all hope to inherit anything belonging to our father together with his sons?" This appears difficult, for the law is that daughters do not inherit when there are also sons. So why were Rachel and Leah complaining?

However, based on the verse (Genesis 29:6): "It is well, and, behold, Rachel his daughter is coming with the flock," (הֲשָׁלוֹם לוֹ וַיֹּאמְרוּ שָׁלוֹם וְהִנֵּה רָחֵל בִּתּוֹ בָּאָה עִם הַצֹּאן) one could offer an answer according to the opinion that Laban originally had no sons and had no one that would tend his sheep. For Laban to be well, i.e., to be at peace, it was necessary to be separated from him completely, and to have no ties with him at all, just as a pot makes peace between fire and water by separating them so that they are not in contact, since fire and water cannot coexist. Only in that way, was peace with Laban was possible. And this is confirmed by the fact that his daughter Rachel was tending the sheep even though it is not customary for females to be shepherds, because Laban would not rely on any outsider to tend to his sheep. So if his daughters did men's work for him by tending to his sheep, they at least deserved to take a portion of Laban's inheritance that was equal to that of the younger sons, who had done nothing to help Laban accumulate his fortune. That is why Jacob said, "G-d has taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me" using the masculine form of your father (אֲבִיכֶם), to indicate that in reference to the cattle that G-d gave him, Rachel and Leah were considered as males who were entitled to an inheritance, inasmuch as it was they, not Laban's sons, who had toiled for it as if they were males. And, on account of their toil, G-d gave Jacob the cattle of Laban.