VaYetze – The Importance of Sleep

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At the beginning of this week’s Parsha is the famous event of the dream of Yakov. But as I was learning Rashi I noticed something that maybe is clear to many, but I only noticed for the first time.

Yakov is commanded by his parents to go to Charan the ancestral home of Rivka and find a wife. Along the way he studies uninterruptedly for fourteen years in the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever. During that time he does not even sleep, but continuously learns. For whatever reason that is the designated period of time (maybe to conquer Eretz Yisroel as we will see below), and then he begins his travels to Charan. As the Gemarra teaches[1] he arrives almost at Charan and realizes he passed the Bais HaMikdosh, the place where his forefathers davened, and he forgot. Therefore he returns, he has Kefitza HaDerech and returns to the Bais HaMikdosh. Once he finishes davening, which is first time Maariv is davened, he desires to return to complete his journey.

This is the part I never realized. HaShem says, The Tzadik has come to my Bais Meloni- my place of sleep- and will leave without resting? Immediately HaShem caused the sun to set early, and Yakov lay down to rest.

I have two questions. Firstly, why is the Bais HaMikdosh called Bais Meloni? Why is sleep the definition of what is the function of the Bais HaMikdosh? Secondly, what is so important about sleeping there? He already davened, why does Yakov also need to sleep? Avrohom was there and did not sleep, Yitzchok also (especially if we learn that Yitzchok instituted Mincha there and Be’er La’Chai Ro’I is the Bais HaMikdosh); why does Yakov need to sleep there?

The Margoliyot HaYam in Snahedrin brings two possible explanations for the idea of Bais Meloni. One is the Halacha that after one brings a Korban one has to wait another day of Linah in Yerushalayim[2]. Since Yakov davened there he needed to remain and stay there. That is interesting, but according to this approach since the next morning Yakov brings another Korban he should have to remain one more day in addition.

The other is based on a Gemarra in Shabbos[3] that the place of the Bais HaMikdosh is described in Shir HaShrim as, he rests between my breasts, this is referring to the two staffs of the Aron which stick out from the Paroches and that is where Shechina rests[4]. Therefore this is the resting place of the Shechina and Yakov needs to rest there.

One can add to this, that as Klal Yisroel crosses the Yarden they also gather the entire nation into that place, and are together with the Shechina between the Badei Aron[5]. Further Yakov describes this place as “Nora”, Nora is the same letters as Aron[6]. The place where Yakov is, is the place of the Aron where both the Shechinah and Klal Yisroel rest. Therefore HaShem says, if this Tzadik, Yakov who understands Nora comes to My place of resting, how can he not stay here.

In addition, at this moment Yakov is sleeping on all of Eretz Yisroel[7]. This represents a conquest of all of Eretz Yisroel. As we wrote above, Yakov before this spends fourteen years in the Yeshivah of Shem and Ever. Fourteen years is the time to conquer Eretz Yisroel. There are different facets of the conquest of Eretz Yisroel. Yakov learning allows him to be above all of Eretz Yisroel. HaShem therefore places him there, the place where the Shechina rests, and all of Klal Yisroel gathers as they enter Eretz Yisroel.

But why does he need to sleep? Sleep is actually quite puzzling. Why did HaShem create that we need it? The Gemarra says sleep is one sixtieth of death, but why do we need it[8]?

One way to understand is that death is not an end, but a process to culminate in Techiyas HaMeisim. That will be when we have been cleansed and are ready to live a life which is completely attached to HaShem. Every night is a microcosm of that process. We go through a day, and then the Neshama goes up to Shamayim. There it is cleansed and ready for the next day. Physical sleep is actually a metaphor for this. We use up our strength during the day, we sleep and awake renewed. But what about those who do not sin, and do not need this cleansing process?

R Chayim Volvozhin writes in the introduction to one of the first works written by the Talmidim of the GR”A, an analysis of what he learnt from the GR”A. He writes that for the GR”A sleep was for his Neshama to go up to Shamayim and receive revelations that in this world bound by the physical body, could not be revealed. That is why a dream is also one sixtieth of a Nevuah. Dreams and Nevuahs are similar that they are unbound by the laws of physics.

Maybe that is what is taking place here. Yakov has just reached the maximum that a human being can reach through his own efforts. But the Halacha to remain over in the Bais HaMikdosh after a Korban is to allow the Korban to maximize its effect on the Neshama even after the conscious actions. Therefore HaShem says, Yakov has brought a Korban, he has instituted the Tefila of Maariv. But to allow that Tefila and the previous fourteen years to now bring down from Shamayim what cannot be gained in the conscious state, Yakov needs to remain in the place of the Shechinah, and have a revelation beyond the human endeavor. Therefore HaShem has him stay and sleep.

This revelation is the process of Galus and Geulah. As we say in Shir Hma’alos, “We will be as deamers.” The process of Galus and Geulah cannt be grasped though a regular thought but only by a dream. And then will the final part of the fream, “Then our mouths will be filled with laughter’ take place.

May we be Zoche to this quickly, speedily and in our days.

[1]  סנהדרין דף צה/ב -דכתיב ויצא יעקב מבאר שבע וילך חרנה וכתיב ויפגע במקום וילן שם כי בא השמש כי מטא לחרן אמר אפשר עברתי על מקום שהתפללו בו אבותי ואני לא התפללתי בו בעי למיהדר כיון דהרהר בדעתיה למיהדר קפצה ליה ארעא מיד ויפגע במקום דבר אחר אין פגיעה אלא תפלה שנאמר ואתה אל תתפלל בעד העם הזה ואל תשא בעדם רנה ותפלה ואל תפגע בי וילן שם כי בא השמש בתר דצלי בעי למיהדר אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא צדיק זה בא לבית מלוני יפטר בלא לינה מיד בא השמש והיינו דכתיב ויזרח לו השמש וכי לו בלבד זרחה והלא לכל העולם כולו זרחה אלא אמר רבי יצחק שמש שבא בעבורו זרחה בעבורו

[2] עיין תוספות ר”ה ה. ד”ה מה

[3]  שבת דף פח/ב – אמר רבי יהושע בן לוי מאי דכתיב צרור המור דודי לי בין שדי ילין אמרה כנסת ישראל לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם אף על פי שמיצר ומימר לי דודי בין שדי ילין

[4]  רש”י שבת דף פח/ב – בין שדי ילין – אמר מיד לעשות לו משכן, להיות מצומצמת שכינתו בין שני הבדים, שנראים במקדש ראשון כשני שדים, דוחקין ובולטין בפרוכת שכנגד הפתח:

[5]  מדרש רבה במדבר פרשה יט פסקה ט – וכן כשעברו את הירדן נכנסו כל ישראל בין שני בדי ארון שנאמר (יהושע ג) ויאמר יהושע אל בני ישראל גשו הנה ושמעו את דברי

[6]  ספר עץ חיים – שער לו פרק ג מ”ק – א”כ אין ראוי להזכיר נורא. ודע כי נורא אותיות ארון

[7]  רש”י על בראשית פרק כח פסוק יג – שוכב עליה – (חולין שם) קיפל הקב”ה כל ארץ ישראל תחתיו רמז לו שתהא נוחה ליכבש לבניו (כד’ אמות שזה מקומו של אדם):

[8]  ברכות דף נז/ב – שינה אחד מששים למיתה חלום אחד מששים לנבואה


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