Parashas Vayeitzei

This week’s parashah begins with Yaakov’s vision of the ladder upon which angels were going up and down. The Midrash teaches that these angels were the heavenly ministers of the leading world kingdoms (Yalkut Shimoni, Torah, 117). Yaakov saw the minister of Babylonia go up 70 rungs and come down. He then saw the minister of Persia/Media go up 52 rungs and come down, and afterwards he saw the minister of Greece go up 180 rungs and come down. Finally, he saw the minister of Edom go up the ladder, but he did not see how many rungs this minister had climbed, and did not see him go down. This foreboding sight struck Yaakov with terror. But Hashem told Yaakov not to fear, assuring him with Ovadiah’s prophesy regarding Edom (verse 1:4): “Even if you raise yourself up like an eagle or set your nest among the stars, I shall bring you down from there.”
The Maggid explains this Midrash with a beautiful parable. A man died, leaving behind a young son and a fine house. The boy was placed under the care of a guardian. The guardian put the house up for rent, with the proceeds to be held in trust for the boy. Since the house was spacious and attractive, many people sought to rent it, and they began to argue with each other. The guardian offered a solution: “Let us make a compromise. Each of you will rent the house for a set period of time, and then someone else will have a turn.” The plan was agreed upon. The guardian then drew up a document listing the starting dates and ending dates of the various rental terms. For the last tenant, though, he listed just a starting date with no ending date, saying that it was not necessary to list an ending date for the last term. He explained that when the owner’s son came of age, the last tenant’s term would automatically come to an end, and the son would move in.
Similarly, each of the four major world kingdoms was granted a term of dominion over the Land of Israel. For the first three kingdoms, the duration of the term was indicated explicitly in Yaakov’s dream. But for the last kingdom, Edom, there was no need for Hashem to indicate the duration. When we become spiritually mature enough to take over the Land of Israel, Hashem Himself will force Edom out – and settle us, His beloved children, into the land for good.
David Zucker, Site Administrator