Vayishlach 2023



By Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron

The traveling of Yakov to Hebron from north to south is one of the themes of this parsha. This painting
exhibits what are known as the “four holy cities in the Land of Israel,” going from north to south, right to
left. Nevertheless, there are sources to the idea that the Kabbalistic order of these cities, corresponding to
the four elements, fire, wind, water, and earth, is Jerusalem, Tzfat, Tiberias, and Hebron, respectively.
These elements can be seen in this painting. In Jerusalem, at the top of the Temple there seems to be a
flame of fire. In Tzfat, the tree/s at the top hilltop seem/s to be waved in the diagonal to express its
moving in the wind. In Tiberias the water of lake Kineret is very clear. In Hebron we see a strong
emphasis on rocks and bricks, whether in a wall or building, more than the other cities. Rocks or bricks
come from the earth and thus the theme of earth is displayed here.
Now we will examine each city separately. In Tzfat all the houses are on the hilltops, which is indeed
typical of Tzfat, where the main city is on hills. We see seven cypresses, the special Jewish number.
Tiberias has a building with black bricks on the water, a matter that is indeed typical of Tiberias.
Jerusalem has the Temple at the top of its painting, since the Temple is the leading feature of Jerusalem.
Also notice how here too there are seven cypresses on the hill descending from the Temple Mount,
expressing yet again the special Jewish number. Notice also that there is a wall continuing from Jerualem
to Hebron, expressing how these cities are sister-cities. This we have explained before, how the Arizal
explains that King David’s reign first in Hebron and then in Jerusalem expresses a deep spiritual
connection between these two cities. Also, we see six rocks on the Hebron-side of the wall and a seventh
rock at the Jerusalem-side of the wall. This may express the Kabbalistic idea that Hebron is associated
with “Zion,” connected to the six sefirot of hesed to yesod, while Jerusalem corresponds to the term
“Jerusalem” itself, connected to the seventh sefira, malchut. Note that the right part of the scroll has six
leaves, while the left side has four leaves. This may correspond to a Kabbalistic teaching that the right is
associated to the masculine, which is also associated to the letter vav, carrying the numerical value of six,
while the left is associated to the feminine,connected to the letter dalet, of the numerical value of four.

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