By Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
This parsha mentions that Yosef was sent from the valley of Hebron. This painting depicts a valley in
Hebron where Maarat Hamachpela is actually in the ascent, which in reality is usually not the case, since
Maarat Hamachpela rests in a valley in Hebron. There are seven vines and seven jugs here, the special
Jewish number. The corrrealtion between the vines and the jugs may hint to the jugs serving as wine that
comes from the vines, also a theme found at the end of this parsha, in the dream of the winemaker. In
regard to his dream there were three vines and the word cup – “kos” – is used four times, altogether seven.
Our Sages say that the usage of “kos” four times hints to the four cups we drink on Seder Night (see Rashi
on Psachim 108a). In this painting as well we see the theme seven divided into groups of three and four.
Three jugs are on the ground, while four are on top of a building. Three vines are grouped together on the
same level, while four vines are seen elsewhere in the painting. Note also that our People are rooted in
three Patriarchs and four Matriarchs. According to the Leshem Shevo Veahlama of Rabbi Shlomo
Elyashuv, a leading Kabbalist, Rachel was brought [perhaps only in spirit] to Maarat Hamachpela after
her burial in Bet Lehem.
The central building here, with the dome with three windows, resembles the Avraham Avinu Synagogue
of Hebron. Tradition holds that once Avraham Avinu descended from heaven and visited this synagogue.
This may point to Avraham Avinu’s noticeable connection to Hebron more than any other figure in the
Noticeable as well are the four cypresses at the central right. These may represent the theme of four in
Hebron, known as Kiryat Arba – “the City of Four,” where four saintly couples are buried. In Hebrew
these trees are called “brosh”, which resembles the word “rosh” – head. This may hint to the four saintly
couples which stand as the heads of Israel and mankind.