There’s Nothing Like Home

December 2, 2019 at 1:03 AM , , ,

“…And leah said, “…now my husband will reside with me, for i have borne him six sons,” so she named him zevulun…”  – bereishis 30:20

וַתֹּאמֶר לֵאָה . . הַפַּעַם יִזְבְּלֵנִי אִישִׁי כִּי יָלַדְתִּי לוֹ שִׁשָּׁה בָנִים וַתִּקְרָא אֶת שְׁמוֹ זְבֻלוּן – בראשית ל, כ

When our matriarch Leah bore her sixth son, she named him Zevulun, a derivative of the word zevul, a dwelling place, saying, “Now, my husband will reside with me”. As Rashi explains, “his [Yaakov’s] principal residence will be only with me, because I have as many sons as all his other wives combined.”

According to the Kabbalah, your given name is not merely a product of your parents’ personal preference. Rather, G-d endows parents with the wisdom to choose names that are uniquely associated with their child’s soul (Shaar Hagilgulim 23).


In view of that, we must say that the name Zevulun signifies not only the milestone that Leah reached with Zevulun’s birth, but also the nature of this specific child. Thus, the change that Zevulun’s arrival brought about in Leah’s life, causing her tent to become Yaakov’s primary home, was due not only to Zevulun’s status as Leah’s sixth son, but also to his distinctive character. Since he was associated with the idea of zevul, a place of primary and permanent residence, his arrival brought a similar blessing to his mother’s life as well.

Zevulun’s association with “places of residence” can be explained in light of the well-known arrangement that the tribe of Zevulun had with the tribe of Yissachar: “Zevulun will dwell at the seashore and go out in ships, to trade and make profit. They will thereby provide food for the tribe of Yissachar, who will sit and occupy themselves with the study of Torah” (Rashi on Devarim 33:18).The tribe of Zevulun’s immersion in trade and commerce afforded them unique opportunities to infuse G-dly meaning in the material world and its ways. Their dealings “for the sake of Heaven,”—in their case, to support Torah study—and their utilization of their material means for the fulfillment of G-d’s commands, thus transformed this lowly physical world into a G-dly place to an even greater degree than the Torah study of their partner tribe Yissachar.

Hence, the name Zevulun. For it is specifically the Zevulun, the businessperson, who most develops this world into a zevul, a place that G-d can call home.

—Likutei Sichos vol. 30, pp. 134-136


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