Calling to Yaakov

December 6th, 2005 by Yaakov Ellis

ויגד לרבקה את דברי עשו בנה הגדל, ותשלח ותקרא ליעקב בנה הקטן, ותאמר אליו הנה עשו אחיך מתנחם לך להרגך

And Rivka was told the words of Esav, her older son, and she send and called to (ל) her younger son, and she said to him: behold, Esav your brother is intending to kill you

Bereishit 27:42

ויקרא יצחק אל יעקב, ויברך אתו; ויצוהו ויאמר לו: לא תקח אשה מבנות כנען

And Yitzchak called to (אל) Yaakov and commanded him and said to him: do not take a wife from the daughters fo Canaan

Bereishit 28:1

After Yaakov received the blessing from Yitzchak, both Yitzchak and Rivka both called to Yaakov in order to give him marriage advice. However, as it is recorded in the Torah, they each addressed him in a slightly different way. When Rivka called to Yaakov it is written ותקרא ליעקב – the letter ל is used to denote Yaakov as the object of Rivka’s calling. When Yitzchak called to Yaakov, it says ויקרא יצחק אל יעקב – here instead of a ל, the word אל is used.

The Netziv (here and at Shemot 8:21) explains that in the Torah there are two ways of calling:

  1. Two people are not near each other. One calls to the other to come closer. This way of calling is delineated with a ל.
  2. Two people are near each other. One person calls to the other by name in order to make clear to them their feelings, their countenance. This way of calling is delineated with the word אל.

After receiving the blessing from Yizchak, Yaakov fled the house of his father in order not risk an encounter with his brother Esav. Rivka called to Yaakov in the first manner of calling – she wanted him to come back close to her so that she could speak with him.

When Yitzchak called to Yaakov, Yaakov was not far away. However, Yaakov was avoiding his father because he was afraid that Yitzchak was mad at him because of how he had received the blessing. Yitzchak called out to Yaakov in the second way, in order to let him know that he harbored no ill will against Yaakov (which is immediately confirmed when he blesses Yaakov again).

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