At the beginning of this week’s סדרה we find that יעקב ‘accidentally’ falls asleep in the place of the בית המקדש. While asleep he sees Hashem standing over him. Hashem tells him how is offspring will be as the dust of the earth, and how He will guard him, and not forsake him etc. יעקב wakes up and exclaims[i], “אכן יש ה' במקים הזה ואנכי לא ידעתי .... אין זה כי אם בית אלקים” – “surely Hashem is in this place and I did not know ….. This is none other than the abode of Hashem”.
רש"י on the words “and I did not know” brings down the מדרש that says
, “had I known I would not have slept in a holy place like this”.
The question that we must ask is, that after having such a revelation, such a “spiritual high” of actually having Hashem speak to you, and being given His word about your destiny. How could יעקב had said that he would not have slept there had he know. He just got given the biggest “הכשר” on the fact that he fell asleep there? Surely if Hashem was unhappy with what he had had done, He would have made some mention of it to him? Or would at least not have given יעקב such a big pat on his back?
I heard two תירוצים to this. The אזנים לתורה answers that the הלכה is that it is אסור to sleep in the בית המקדש. When יעקב woke up, he realized that he had, without realizing, slept in the מקום המקדש. Yes he had a spiritual closeness to Hashem like never before, but he a gone כנגד the הלכה. No amount of הכשרים can justify this. We must always stay away from עבירות, even if the “gain” from the עבירה seems worth it. Its like eating treif and chocking on it, then being rushed to hospital, where they find out you have some other disease that needs treating! You can’t say it was right to eat treif, just because good came out of it.
The second answer I heard was that יעקב said, “If this is what happens when I sleep in such a holy place, can you imagine what heights I could have got to if I had stayed up the night in such a place”. He berated himself for the missed opportunity of an even greater closeness to Hashem.
[i] בראשית כח:טז - יז