Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Yaakov's Altar (this week's Parshah)

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It is written [Breishis 28:18]: And Yaakov 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.

The Chasam sofer asks: The Gemora in Zevachim (116a) states: Anything used by a common person becomes forbidden to be used for the High! Once Yaakov used these stones for his head, how could he have used them afterwards to build an Altar?

He answers: the Yalkut (119) states that these stones were the stones from Noach’s altar, and it was also the stones used for Akeidas Yitzchak. The Zayis Raanaan asks: How could Yaakov use these stones to lie upon; he should be guilty of me’ilah in hekdesh!? Firstly, he answers that he did not actually use the stones, but rather, he placed them around him as a protection. Accordingly, we can use this to answer the original question. Yaakov could use these stones to build a monument, for he never actually used them for his personal needs.

The Zayis Raanaan offers an alternative answer to his question. Yaakov used these stones to lie upon even though they were hekdesh because he was in dangerous situation. He needed the stones to protect him from the wild animals. Accordingly, the first question returns. How could he then use these stones to build an altar, if these stones were actually used for his personal needs? He answers based upon our Gemora, which states that if one knowingly uses hekdesh for his own personal needs, the hekdesh does not become deconsecrated. Consequently, Yaakov was permitted to use these stones for an altar, for his deliberate usage of the stones beforehand did not deconsecrate them.