Don’t Let it Go to Your Head

November 19, 2017 at 1:49 AM , , ,
“….He took some of the stones of that place and placed (Them) at his head…..” – Bereishit 28:11

״….ויקח מאבני המקום וישם מראשתיו…״ – בראשית כח, יא

He arranged them like a gutterpipe around his head because he feared the wild beasts. —Rashi

The barrier that Yaakov formed around his head was obviously not the only protection he was relying upon, as it left the rest of his body still exposed. It’s possible that Yaakov didn’t erect a blockade around his body because he trusted that G-d was protecting him, but if so, why did he take extra measures to guard his head? And if, in fact, Yaakov shielded the rest of his body as well through natural means, (as some commentaries suggest, see Maskil L’Dovid,) then why does the barrier around his head deserve honorable mention? Evidently, placing stones around his head to yield off intruders was of special significance and symbolism for Yaakov, and was much more than just a primitive security system.

Yaakov was about to enter a new stage in life. Until now, he had been called, “an innocent man, who dwelled in tents (25:27),” referring to his extended studies in the “tents of Shem and Ever (Rashi),” the academies of Torah study of his time. Now, as he was about to marry, Yaakov realized that he would be entering the workforce, and particularly, he would be living and working with the sly Lavan. Even the journey there already exposed him to “wild animals”, an allusion to the spiritual dangers that even the lead-up to this transition can bring.

At this critical point, the Torah highlights that Yaakov protected his head. In doing so, Yaakov demonstrated that to ensure that we forever remain true to our Torah values, even when we are engrossed in earning a living, our heads must be guarded. In the words of Tehilim (128:2), “If you eat the toil of your hands, you are praiseworthy, and it is good for you.” You must invest only your hands – your external and physical energy – in your toil and labor; save your head and heart for the study of Torah and for passionate prayer. As long you keep your head safe, devoting your higher faculties to having a meaningful relationship with G-d instead of with your job, then your integrity and sense of direction will stay secure even when your body goes to work.

—Likutei Sichos vol. 1, pp. 61-62


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