The Holiness of Israel

פרשת ויצא
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Written by:
Rabbi Jay Goldmintz
Access editable doc with student handouts:
ספר בראשית פרק כח

(יב) וַיַּחֲלֹם וְהִנֵּה סֻלָּם מֻצָּב אַרְצָה וְרֹאשׁוֹ מַגִּיעַ הַשָּׁמָיְמָה וְהִנֵּה מַלְאֲכֵי אֱלֹהִים עֹלִים וְיֹרְדִים בּוֹ

רש"י (יב) עולים ויורדים - עולים תחלה ואח"כ יורדים. מלאכים שליווהו בארץ אין יוצאים חוצה לארץ ועלו לרקיע וירדו מלאכי חוצה לארץ ללוותו:

ספר בראשית פרק לב

(ב) וְיַעֲקֹב הָלַךְ לְדַרְכּוֹ וַיִּפְגְּעוּ בוֹ מַלְאֲכֵי אֱ-לֹהִים:

רש"י (ב) ויפגעו בו מלאכי אלהים - מלאכים של ארץ ישראל באו לקראתו ללותו לארץ

לימוד ועבודה פנימית

ארץ ישראל מקודשת מכל הארצות (משנה כלים א:ו)

The parasha relates how on his way out of Israel to the house of Lavan in חרן Yaakov had a dream wherein he saw a ladder going up to heaven with angels going up and going down. The midrash (cited by Rashi) wonders about the angels first going up—shouldn’t they first be coming down from Heaven to greet him and only then going back up? The midrash concludes that from here one learns that the angels of Israel were forbidden to leave Israel, presumably because they were on a higher level, and they were therefore replaced by the presumably lesser angels of the Diaspora. Conversely, at the end of his time with Lavan (32:2), as Yaakov returns home to Canaan/Israel, it says that the angels came to greet him, from which the midrash learns that the angels of Israel returned to take over from the angels of the Diaspora.

1. Why do you think the midrash thinks that the angels of Israel are not permitted to leave?


2. Have you ever been to Israel? Describe your feelings about your trip or about the importance of Israel for you. Share with the class or your chavruta.


3. a. Make a list of all of the reasons that you can think of that Israel is important for the Jewish People. Underline the one that is the most important to you. Share it with the class or with your chavruta

b. Compare lists. What if any differences did you notice? What did you leave out that your chavruta included?

4. There is a famous saying in the Gemara:  

שכל הדר בארץ ישראל דומה כמי שיש לו אלוה וכל הדר בחוצה לארץ דומה כמי שאין לו אלוה (כתובות קי:).

“Whoever lives in the Land of Israel is like one who has a god, and one who lives outside of the Land of Israel is like one who has no god.”  

What do you think the Gemara means?  Do you agree? Disagree?

Download with student handouts:
Please help others by sharing how you used the resource, how you adapted it (link to your own version!) and what worked more or less well. You can also post questions that Lifnai Vlifnim staff or community members will try to respond to.

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