Vayetze: Mark of the Righteous

 We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us.
— Sir Winston Churchill

There is a principle in biblical studies that the Torah does not include extraneous words. This leads to a famous question as to why the Torah needs to mention that Jacob is departing the city of Beer Sheva (Genesis 28:10), when we already know from previous verses where he’s leaving from. The popular answer that is given is that just as a city feels the effect of the arrival of a righteous man, so too they feel the departure of the righteous.

The Sfat Emet writing in 5636 (1876) was not satisfied with the popular answer. He felt that there is a deeper answer to the redundancy of mentioning Jacob’s city of departure. He explained that the effect of the righteous upon the city is so strong that it leaves a mark even after they have departed and that it becomes a source of merit to the city to have had the righteous living in their midst.

He further compared the effect the righteous have upon a city like that of the performance of commandments upon the body. Whenever a person performs a commandment with their body it leaves a mark of holiness upon their limbs which remains even after the commandment has been performed and serves as a merit to the body.

May we perform commandments with all of our selves and merit health and holiness for our entire body.

Shabbat Shalom,



For the Jewish community of Paysandu on the inauguration of its building and its wonderful hosting. May they have many more visits and successful community events.

In memory of my friend and neighbor, Yaakov Don h”yd, murdered by Muslim terrorists in Gush Etzion.

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay and a candidate for the Knesset for the Zehut party. He is the author of three books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
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