Vayetzei – Using Our Emuna Muscle

In the beginning of this week’s Torah portion of Vayetzei, Yaakov takes a rest on the way to Haran and has the famous dream of angels going up and down a ladder. When he wakes up, he realizes he is in a very holy place. “And Jacob arose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had placed at his head, and he set it up as a monument, and he poured oil on top of it. And he named the place Beth El, but Luz was originally the name of the city” (Breishis 28:18, 19).

Every letter, word, and phrase in the Torah has a reason behind it. Rabbeinu Bachye asks, “The place he [Yaakov] called Beis El is Yerushalayim, and what is the significance of informing us that it was called Luz originally, and what benefit is reaching us from this [knowledge]? It makes sense to say that the pasuk is coming to hint to us with this name that from this place the world started to expand and develop. And behold it is the beginning of creation and its renewal, therefore [the pasuk] revealed to us that the name of the city was originally Luz from the same language as Luz, which is a body part on the spine of a person from where in the future He will awaken, renew, and recreate for the sake of the resurrection of the dead. For just as the incredible innovation [of the creation of the world] stemmed from there, so too the wonder of the resurrection of the dead will start from there. King David already elaborated on this concept and said that the creation of the world and also the creation of the soul and the body all are from the middle which is Zion. That is what it means in Tehillim, beginning of perek 50, ‘God, God the Lord, spoke and called to the earth… From Zion, the finery of beauty… He shall call to the heavens above etc.’” (Click here for Hebrew text.)

The stone that Yitzchak was placed on as an offering by Akeidas Yitzchak is the same stone from which Hashem created Adam, and it is rests in the Beis Hamikdash, and it remains in its place to this day. (Indeed, it is from there that Muslims mistakenly believe that Mohammad ascended to heaven). This place is where all of human life started, and everything evolved. Chaza”l say that Yerushalayim is at the center of the earth, from whence everything is perfected, and it is the epicenter of advancement throughout the ages. Because it is the source of the advancement of mankind, Yerushalayim was originally called Luz, just like the specific vertebrae on the spine where Chaza”l say the resurrection of the dead for each individual will commence and reconfigure the body.

It would seem that this resurrection at the end of days will begin in Zion, Yerushalayim, just as the beginning of mankind began from that same central point, which is the significance for the pasuk to be telling us why it was called Luz originally. But what benefit is there in whether we know or not this knowledge, that the resurrection of the dead will in the future start from Yerushalayim?

The last of the 13 Principles of Faith spelled out by the Rambam is “I believe with complete faith that there will be a resurrection of the dead whenever the wish emanates from the Creator, Blessed is His Name and exalted is His mention, forever and all for all eternity.” The first Mishna in the 10th perek of Sanhedrin, Perek Chelek, lists as one who has no share in the world to come, one who says the resurrection of the dead isn’t in the Torah. The Gemara there explains the reason why he loses his share in the World to Come is because since he denies the resurrection of the dead he will not be resurrected.

Not only is this pasuk a hint in the Torah to the resurrection of the dead but Rabbeinu Bachye is telling us that the Torah wanted to train us to believe in such a concept. For just as we can believe that Hashem fashioned all of creation and created man from this point on earth, so too Hashem will recreate, or resurrect, everyone deserving from that point on earth using their spinal vertebrae called Luz. Because history happened in the past and we presently can’t see what actually happened or take a time machine to find out what actually happened then we must rely on belief in the mesorah, tradition, that is passed down from generation to generation, of what has happened in history from the beginning of time, all sourced from the Written and Oral Torah.

 However, it would seem that this pasuk is giving us an indicator, an aid of how to help us strengthen our belief muscles. It is easier to believe the history of what has happened in the past, especially if there are visual aids and hints that could paste together a puzzle and picture of what must have happened. The future does not have that kind of clarity or even hints, no stories or relics, it is all speculative at best. Therefore a greater leap of faith is needed to believe in something that will take place in the future. However, Hashem made it more tangible for us to understand what will happen in the future by the resurrection of the dead by telling us that it is the same concept from where all of man had started from. So, by working on our belief system of how Hashem originally created the world we can more easily understand and believe what will happen at the end of days so that we will merit to be a part of such an illustrious event.

Hashem has purposefully created a situation where we can use easier more simple beliefs in order so that we can apply them to more difficult, esoteric beliefs to make the belief system more palpable as long as we put forth the efforts into recognizing this system of belief in Hashem.