Parashat Vayeitze begins with Jacob fleeing from Be'er Sheva (in the south of Israel) to Charan (in Syria), after finding out that his brother Esau wanted to kill him because Jacob received the blessings from their father Isaac, through trickery. On his way, Jacob stopped at the place where the Holy Temple would be built. The time when he arrived was in the early evening, as the verse says, "For the sun was setting" (Gen. 28:11), and there he prayed the first Maariv (Evening) prayer. Afterwards, he lay down and placed stones under his head. The stones argued upon which one of them the tzadik would rest his head and became one stone. (ibid. Rashi)

There is a principle: "The actions of the fathers are a sign for the children." Whatever the Forefathers did are signposts for what will occur throughout the generations to their descendants. Jacob’s leaving Israel hinted to the exile of the Children of Israel from the Land. Therefore, it says, "He lay down, since the sun was setting," since the Exile is an aspect of "night," of darkness. The stones which were arguing amongst each other in the place of the Holy of Holies hinted to the destructions of the First and Second Temples.

It is taught that the two Holy Temples correspond to Abraham and Isaac. Abraham called the place of the Temple a "mountain." Isaac called it a "field." However, the Third Temple which corresponds to Jacob is eternal, so Jacob called it a "house," as is written, "This is none other than the House of the L-rd". (verse 17)

This is what the Sages of blessed memory hinted at in their explanation about the stones arguing with one another. There were specifically twelve stones, corresponding to the twelve tribes. Through their unification into one stone, the tzadik could lay down his head. This reflects what is written in Rashi, "The Holy One folded the entire Land of Israel under him" (verse 13). This implies that the Jewish People will be able to live on their land in security only if there will be unity between them. Then also the Shechinah will be able to dwell upon them, as is written, "This stone … will be [the foundation stone for] the House of the L-rd" (verse 22)

The prayer which Jacob established, the Maariv (Evening) prayer, contains within it the mitzvah of reciting the Shema Yisrael prayer [which elicits our individual protection] at night. The divine protection for the Nation of Israel in exile, a small minority amongst the Nations of the World, is only because of our self-sacrifice to fulfill the mitzvahs, even in difficult circumstances. So too the third Temple will only be because of the unity of the Nation of Israel [despite the Exile].

The power of Jacob is that he unites between two opposing forces and by doing so, he maintains the world's existence, as is written in Pirkei Avot: (1:2) "The world stands on three things: Torah, Worship and Good Deeds." Also, "The world is maintained by three things: Truth, Law, and Peace" (ibid. 1:18). Only through maintaining all powers does the world exist, since each power has its role and each one is needed for the other. Therefore, through unity eternalness is achieved. May it be His Will that we should soon merit to see the building of the third and Eternal Temple.

Delivered orally; translated by David Devor from his notes and extensively edited by staff.

Copyright 2003 by, a project of Ascent of Safed (// All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.