Vayishlach 5777

Rabbi Benzion Morgenstern

ויצב שם מזבח ויקרא לו קל אלקי ישראל (בראשית לג:כ)

And he (Yaakov) set up an altar there and he called it “G-d is the G-d of Yisrael” (Bereishis 33:20)

Rashi explains that Yaakov did not call the altar “G-d, G-d of Yisrael,” implying that the altar is a G-d. Rather, he named it after Hashem who performed miracles for him, by saying “G-d is the G-d of Yisrael.”

What is the significance of this name?

We find that when the other Avos, Avraham and Yitzchak, built an altar, the Pasuk stated ויקרא בשם ה’, and they called out in the name of Hashem. What is the meaning of calling out in the name of Hashem? Why did Yaakov change from what his father and grandfather did, and instead of calling out in the name of Hashem he gave the altar a name that reflects that Hashem is the G-d of Yisrael?

Ramban (Bereishis 12:8) interprets ויקרא בשם ה’ to mean that Avraham would call out the Name of Hashem in a loud voice in front of the Altar, imparting knowledge of His existence and His Divinity to people. Similarly, we find that Yitzchak built an Altar and he called out in the name of Hashem (Bereishis 26:25). Yitzchak proclaimed Hashem’s Divinity when he arrived at a place where people had not yet heard of Hashem’s fame nor seen His glory. That great Prophet imbued them with knowledge of the Creator of the Universe.

If this “calling out” was an important role of the Avos, why is it that the Pasuk never mentions that Yaakov taught people about Hashem? Shouldn’t Yaakov have followed in the way of his fathers and informed people of Hashem?

Ramban explains: Unlike Avraham and Yitzchak, Yaakov bore many children, all of whom were servants of Hashem. Through him came the first large assembly called “the Congregation of Yisrael.” Belief in Hashem was publicized through them. When people witnessed an entire family that feared and served Hashem, they saw a display of the awareness of Hashem and the obligation to serve Him. Yaakov publicized belief of Hashem through example, and therefore he did not need to “call out in the name of Hashem.”

Yaakov and his children were recognized as the “Congregation of Yisrael” by all who beheld them. The name that Yaakov gave the altar, קל אלקי ישראל, “G-d is the G-d of Yisrael,” reflected this reality. Yaakov fulfilled his role of conveying to people belief in Hashem through the very existence of the “Congregation of Yisrael.” When Yaakov built an altar, and yet did not call out in the name of Hashem, he was not departing from the way of his fathers; rather, he had a different avenue to convey the same message. Therefore, the Pasuk does not conclude that he called out in the name of Hashem; rather, it states that Yaakov called the altar “G-d is the G-d of Yisrael.”


In these short winter days a question frequently arises on Motzai Shabbos. For many people, it is one of utmost importance. “May I have my (Milchig) coffee?”

The question revolves around the law requiring a waiting period between meat and milk. Many follow the opinion that a six hour separation between the two is required. But what happens in case of doubt? For example, most people have some form of meat at Shabbos lunch, but most do not check their clocks to determine the exact time that the meat part of their meal concluded. (Most Authorities maintain that the six hours are timed at the conclusion of the meat consumption, and not the entire meal.)  After Havdalah, we are left in a quandary.

Seemingly, one can apply the Halachic principle of ספיקא דרבנן לקולא, “doubts occurring within a Rabbinic law can be judged leniently.” Since the requirement of waiting between meat and milk is Rabbinic in nature, one may adopt a lenient attitude and assume the six hours have passed. (The very concept of ספיקא דרבנן לקולא is complicated; it must be applied with caution and after competent Halachic consultation.)

The Yad Yehuda raises a fascinating objection to this contention, based upon the Halachic principle of דבר שיש מתירין. This refers to an object which, although presently forbidden, will later become permissible. The normal leniencies accorded to Halachic doubt are suspended in such a case. As such, even though an object in question may in many situations be deemed permissible, the object of דבר שיש מתירין remains forbidden.

The classic example of this is an egg laid on Yom Tov, which is forbidden for Rabbinic reasons. Even so, when the day the egg was laid is unknown, the egg is forbidden. Since tomorrow, the day following Yom Tov, the egg will become permitted, the sages forbade its consumption on Yom Tov, treating its doubt stringently. The reasoning behind this dictum is explained by Rashi in the Gemara (Beitzah 3b). “Why eat it in doubt when can eat it with Halachic certainty tomorrow?”

The Yad Yehuda maintains that the question of whether or not the six hours have lapsed should seemingly be qualified as a דבר שיש מתירין, and as such the situation should be ruled stringently. Because at a certain point one will certainly be beyond the six hour waiting mark, and the situation of certain permissibility will surely come, this seems to have all the necessary ingredients to be labeled an item which is in doubt now and stands to be permitted after time. Therefore, the Yad Yehuda rules stringently and in this case, the coffee (with milk!) should be forbidden.

The Darchai Teshuvah responds to this assertion with an equally fascinating Noda B’Yehuda. The Noda B’Yehuda posits that the concept of דבר שיש מתירין only applies to something which has a one-time use. The egg in the example can only be used once – its consumption. Therefore, the sages decreed that its consumption should be postponed until after Yom Tov, as opposed to on that day. When an item has multiple uses, this rule cannot be invoked.

There is another issue with the aforementioned egg. Not only is it forbidden for consumption, but it also may not be moved, since it is a Muktzeh item. Regarding moving the eggs, the Noda B’Yehuda contends that it should not be considered an item which stands to be permitted.  Since it can be moved multiple times, moving it later is not related to moving it now; rather, it is a new movement, the earlier possibility of movement being forever lost. The requirement of the sages is only meant to delay the present use and to save it for later, but not to forgo the present use and then use it later. Consequently, the Noda B’Yehuda explains, the egg is only aדבר שיש מתירין regarding consumption, but not for moving!

Applying this logic, the Darchei Teshuva argues with the Yad Yehuda. One can consume milk numerous times. Requiring the person to wait until later is not simply delaying his milk consumption; it is causing him to lose that possibility for good. It is not to be considered a דבר שיש מתירין, and therefore the coffee should be permitted.

In conclusion, many Poskim are lenient for a variety of reasons (not discussed here), and there is certainly ample room to be lenient. Add the milk and enjoy!