Weekly Torah Shabbat Parshat Vayetze

  וְעַתָּ֗ה לְכָ֛ה נִכְרְתָ֥ה בְרִ֖ית אֲנִ֣י וָאָ֑תָּה וְהָיָ֥ה לְעֵ֖ד בֵּינִ֥י וּבֵינֶֽךָ׃וַיִּקַּ֥ח יַעֲקֹ֖ב אָ֑בֶן וַיְרִימֶ֖הָ מַצֵּבָֽה׃וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יַעֲקֹ֤ב לְאֶחָיו֙ לִקְט֣וּ אֲבָנִ֔ים וַיִּקְח֥וּ אֲבָנִ֖ים וַיַּֽעֲשׂוּ־גָ֑ל וַיֹּ֥אכְלוּ שָׁ֖ם עַל־הַגָּֽל׃

וַיִּקְרָא־ל֣וֹ לָבָ֔ן יְגַ֖ר שָׂהֲדוּתָ֑א וְיַֽעֲקֹ֔ב קָ֥רָא ל֖וֹ גַּלְעֵֽד׃

Lavan is chasing his son in law, Yaakov Avinu, as he was leaving Padan Aram going back to the holy land. However, when they meet, they agree on a “covenant”, to set their relationship and prevent future war. The Verses read as follows: 

And Lavan said; “So now, come, let us form a covenant, you and I, and may it be a witness between me and you. So Yaakov took a stone and set it up [as] a monument. And Yaakov said to his kinsmen, “Gather stones,” and they took stones and made a pile, and they ate there by the pile. And Laban called it Yegar Sahadutha, but Jacob called it Gal ed. 

Both translate into “Eternal monument” – but why does the Torah have to tell us the name in both Aramaic and Hebrew? 

Well – the “negative approach” explanation would be to say that the gaps between Yaakov Avinu and Lavan are so big, that they could not agree even on the name of their covenant….

The “positive approach” would be to say that as the covenant intends to safeguard the behaviour of both parties, it had to be clearly written in both languages so that each side keeps within its borders. A little bit like the borderline between Israel and Egypt today says “Do not cross the border”, both in Hebrew and Arabic… to prevent accidental illegal crossings…

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Chaim Michael Biberfeld