Parsha Encounters



Parshas Vayeitzei:

Survival Tactic

Rabbi Fishel Zlatapolsky

[Don't forget to see the Halacha Encounters below!]

And [Yaakov] took from the stones of the place and placed them by his head and [he] lied down in that place (28:11).

Rashi explains that from the fact the Torah mentions "in that place" we learn that only in that place did Yaakov Avinu lie down.  Because instead of going straight to Lavan in order to find himself a wife, Yaakov made a detour to the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever.  And for 14 years he did not sleep. He spent day and night toiling in Torah.

But the question is why?  Why didn't Yaakov listen to Yitzchok and Rivkah and go right away.  Why did he not try to come back as soon as possible so that he can attend to the needs of his elderly parents.  Indeed, the Gemora (Megillah 16) learns from Yaakov that the Mitzvah of learning Torah supercedes the Mitzvah of honoring one father and mother.  Yet this is merely justification not an explanation.  Yes, Yaakov was justified in his refraining from honoring his parents because of the greatness of the Mitzvah of learning Torah.  But why was it so vital for Yaakov Avinu to employ this principle, Gadol Talmud Torah M'Kavod Avihem - the learning of Torah is greater than honoring one's parents.  After all, the same Gemora says that Yaakov was, at this point, 63 years old.  And we can't forget that we are dealing with Yaakov - yosheiv ohalim (25:27) - who dwelled in the tents of Torah.  Every day of these 63 years was dedicated to absorbing the lessons of Torah which were taught to him by his grandfather Avraham and father Yitzchok.  So why was it so crucial to immerse himself into study of Torah for additional 14 sleepless years?

HaGaon Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky zt"l explains that the answer lies in the difference between the teachings that Yaakov received from Yaakov and Yitzchok and the teachings of Shem and Ever.

Avrohom and Yitzchok were spiritual giants and the Torah that they taught was like a powerful magnet which attracted everything good and repelled the evil. Yaakov grew up in a protected environment, but now it was time to leave.  Now he was facing the challenge of wicked the Lavan.  But how would he deal with evil?  He could not have learned this from Avrohom and Yitzchok simply because their presence allowed no evil.  When Yishmael chose for himself a bad path, immediately he and his mother were sent away.  It was now that Yaakov turned to the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever.  Shem, the son of Noach, lived through the flood.  He received from his father a tradition of how to survive amongst evil.  How to build an "ark" to insulate oneself and not be affected by the evil of the world.  Similarly, Ever lived through the generation of Dispersion - a generation united in their rebellion against Hashem.  And he survived.  Survived in the true sense of the word, with his spirituality intact.

Now we can understand why was it so crucial to attend the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever precisely at this point. During these fourteen years Yaakov could not afford to sleep.  Day and night he was building an "ark," a capsule around himself that would allow him to survive in a world of Lavan, a world of falsehood.  It was these fourteen years that allowed him to stay 22 years with Lavan, but remain Yaakov Avinu who could say "with Lavan I sojourned but 613 Mitzvos I did keep". (Rashi 32:5) Because Torah does not only educate and elevate. Torah guards and protects those who are willing to dedicate themselves to it.

Rabbi Zlatapolsky learns nightly in the Zichron Aharon Mechanchim Division of the Chicago Community Kollel. 

Halacha Encounters

The Name of HaShem

Rabbi Moshe Rosenstein

Every morning in davening, we say in the beginning of "Hodu," "Give thanks to HaShem, declare His Name. Praise in His holy Name." [Divrei HaYomim I 16:8-10]  The Vilna Gaon explains this to mean that it is fitting for us to give praise for the fact that we merit to be able to say the name of HaShem.1  It is a tremendous zechus for us that HaShem allows His holy Name to be uttered by His chosen people, despite the fact that we are mere mortals and otherwise should have no business referring to Him by name.  In this week's Halacha Encounters, we will examine some of the laws pertinent to the uttering of the Name of HaShem.

What is the Proper Pronunciation of the Name of HaShem?

Of all the names of HaShem that appear in our daily prayers and Brachos, by far the most common is the Name referred to as "The Sheim Havaya."  This is the Sheim HaShem made up of the letters yud-hey-vav-hey.2  It is forbidden for us to pronounce this Name using those letters.  The Mishna in Sanhedrin (90a) tells us that among those who lose their portion in the World to Come are those who pronounce the Name according to its letters.  Tosafos explains that this is referring to the Name of yud-hey-vav-hey.3  In truth, we do not know the proper, true pronunciation of these four letters.  The Gemora tells us that HaShem said "Not the way I am written is the way I am pronounced - I am written as yud-hey. but I am called by aleph-daled."4  This means the Sheim Havaya is to be pronounced as "Adonoy."5  The poskim discuss the proper nekudos for the pronunciation of this Name, as well as how careful we must be to pronounce it properly.

The Aleph

The first aleph of the Sheim has beneath it a chataf-patach.6  This is pronounced like the letter "a" in the word father.  There are some times, however, that this letter is not pronounced this way.  If the Sheim HaShem is preceded by any of the following letters, the patach is shifted to that letter and the aleph does not have any vowel added to it.  The letters are: beis, vav, lamed or kof.7  [For example, in the fifth passuk of  Mizmor Shir Chanukas HaBayis LiDovid, the Sheim HaShem is pronounced, ".zam'ru LADONOY chasidov."]  Any other letter that precedes the Name of HaShem is simply added to the beginning and the aleph is pronounced as it normally is.

The Daled

The daled of the Sheim has a cholam above it.8  This makes the "d" sound as one would say the word "dough."  Many poskim stress the vital importance of pronouncing this letter properly.  For some reason it has come into practice that many people mispronounce this daled by either pronouncing it as if it has a shva beneath it [as in the word did] or as if it had a chirik [as in deed].  The consensus of the Gedolei HaPoskim of our times (including HaGaon Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach zt"l9 and ylch"t HaGaon Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv shlit"a10 and HaGaon Rav Moshe Shternbuch shlit"a11) is that this is a wrong pronunciation of the Sheim HaShem.  Many go so far as to say that one has not been yotzei if they pronounced the name in this way.12  Certainly, however, if it is pronounced in an acceptable way in which a person consistently pronounces a cholam based on his own mesorah, it is acceptable.  To quote HaGaon Rav Shimon Schwab zt"l, "[the daled] can be pronounced variously as: 'OH' or 'OI' or 'AW,' depending on individual minhagim.  However, it certainly is not pronounced 'EE.'  Consequently, the often mispronounced word 'Ahdeenoy' is not the Name of HaKadosh Baruch Hu and is totally meaningless.  The use of this word for Shem HaKadosh is a travesty, and those who pronounce it this way should be corrected."13  Likewise, Rav Elyashiv ruled that a shul who has a Baal Koreh or Shliach Tzibbur that pronounces the Sheim this way should correct the matter.14

The Nun

The nun is pronounced with a komatz beneath it.15 (As in the word gnaw.)  It is important for one to be sure not to accidentally pronounce this as a patach (as in night).  The only distinction between the word "my masters" ("adonai" with a patach beneath the nun) and the Sheim HaShem is the komatz under the nun, changing the word from "chol" to "kodesh."  [See Minchas Shai on Beraishis 18:3]   There is some discussion amongst the poskim regarding the proper way for Sefaradim to pronounce this.  Since in the "usual" Sefaradi havarah (accent), there is often little or no distinction made between a komatz and a patach, some poskim rule that when it comes to pronouncing the Sheim HaShem, even Sefaradim should be careful to pronounce the komatz in the Ashkenazi havarah.16 Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach zt"l, however, ruled that Sefaradim should certainly pronounce this komatz as they would any other, as their ancestors have done for generations.17 However, if a Sefaradi is davening as the shliach tzibbur for an Ashkenaz shul, he should do his best to pronounce his tefillos in the Ashkenazi havarah,18 particularly when it comes to the saying of the Sheim Hashem.19


1 Cited in Nesivos Emunah vol. 2 page 1

2 The "word" Havaya is simply a shuffling of the letters of the way the Name is normally spelled.

3 Avodah Zara 18a s.v. Hogeh HaSheim

4 Pesachim 50a.  The nekudos [vowels] commonly found beneath the letters in a siddur actually have nothing to do with the true pronunciation

5 See Beur HaGra Orach Chaim 5:1 and Mishna Berura s.k 2.

6 See note 5.

7 Beur HaGra ibid.  In Aramaic tefillos where the letter daled can appear before the Sheim (as we find in Uva LiTzion), it is treated like the bais, vav, kaf and lamed.

8 Mishna Berura ibid.

9 Halichos Shlomo 7, note 11.

10 In a faxed teshuva from HaRav Yosef Ephrati shlit"a.

11 Teshuvos ViHanhagos 1:128, 2:77, 4:2.

12 See Halichos Shlomo.  This was also stated publicly by HaGaon Rav Yehuda Zev Segal zt"l in a public address in the Mir Yeshiva in Yerushalayim (quoted by HaRav Dovid Zucker shlit"a).

13 Quoted from "Rav Schwab on Prayer" [Artscroll] page 3.

14 Faxed teshuva.

15 M.B. ibid.

16 Teshuvos ViHanhagos 1:128 siting HaGaon Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlit"a as well as the author, Rav Moshe Shternbuch shlit"a.

17 Halichos Shlomo 1, note 6.  However, regarding the relatively new "Havara Yiraelit" used by some Ashkenazim nowadays, see Rav Shlomo Zalman's comments in Halichos Shlomo 5, note 67, as well as Teshuvos ViHanhagos 2:77.

18 Halichos Shlomo 5:20 - as well as visa versa.

19 Teshuvos ViHanhagos 1:128 and 2:76.

Rabbi Rosenstein learns full time in the Kollel and is a frequent contributor to Halacha Encounters.


In addition to learning full time in the Kollel, Rabbi Friedman is alos the Moreh Hora'ah for Beis HaMedrash Mekor HaChaim and the Maggid Shiur for the Kolle'ls Night Seder Yoreh Deah Program



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