Levado - alone

The Torah Portion of VAYISHLACH Genesis 32:4-36:43
Insights into “Word Concepts” in Torah.

Moshe Kempinski

Judaism Discovering Torah
Discovering Torah
צילום: PR

In a world with exponential population growth one of the most difficult experiences of sadness, is the sense of aloneness in the midst of a bustling crowd. And Hashem G-d said, "It is not good that man is alone ( Levado) ; I shall make him a helpmate opposite him." ( Genesis 2:18). 

To understand the concept of “Ezer Kinegdo - helpmate opposite him” Rashi explains” If he is worthy, she will be a helpmate. If he is not worthy, she will be against him, to fight him.(Tractate Yevanot. 63a)

Does the word Levado, then, express an experience that is negative and threatening or does that word Levado also express opportunity?

When Yaacov ( Jacob)  returns to the land with his growing family, his fears of Esav( Esau) return to perplex him, He sends messengers ahead to determine the intentions of his brother .We thereupon read the following:

"The angels returned to Yaacov, saying, "We came to your brother, to Esau, and he is also coming toward you, and four hundred men are with him. Yaacov became very frightened and was distressed; so he divided the people who were with him and the flocks and the cattle and the camels into two camps”(Genesis 32: 7-8)

Yaacov then prepares for the encounter in three ways. Rashi explains” He (Yaacov) prepared himself for three things: for a gift, for war, and for prayer. For a gift as the verse says Genesis 32: 22): “So the gift passed on before him.” For prayer as the verse says (ibid: 10): “G-d of my father Abraham…” For war, as the verse says : “the remaining camp will escape.”(ibid:9)

 After he does all that he can to prepare himself for the fateful meeting we read;

”And he arose during that night, and he took his two wives and his two maidservants and his eleven children, and he crossed the ford of the Yabbok. And he took them and brought them across the stream, and he took across what was his. And Yaacov was left alone (Vayivater Yaacov Levado), and a man ( EESH) wrestled with him until the break of dawn.(Genesis 32:23-25)

Immediately following reading in the verse that  “Yaacov was left alone(Levado)", we see that ” he wrestles with a “man ( ISH) ” until the break of dawn. We learn subsequently that this was not just any man, but rather a spiritual being, the angel of death or perhaps the angel of the nation of Esav.

Yet the verse just described Yaacov as being alone at the same time as it describes his struggle with this entity called an Ish.

The Bnei Yissaschar understands from this encounter that at critical moments in our individual or corporate spiritual paths we are destined to confront a point of complete aloneness. In such times we are thrust into situations wherein we are left disconnected from our environment, our past, our destiny. We are simply left with ourselves equipped only with our delicate balance of strengths and weaknesses. It is in that struggle that we find the empowerment to move forward.

It is in such encounters that we struggle within ourselves with the insecurities and fears that keep us chained and blocked from growing into our purpose.

Yaacov came into this encounter filled with all those concerns. He expresses these in his prayer to Hashem ;

I am unworthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant,”(ibid 32:11)

What then was at the psychological core of Yaacov's fears that he deeply sensed when  he was left alone with himself.(Genesis 32:25)

One almost senses that the painful words of his father, Isaac, seared a deep wound in Yaacov's heart. Those were the words Isaac said when giving Yaacov the blessings that ostensibly were for Esav;"The voice is the voice of Yaacov, but the hands are the hands of Esau.'"(Genesis 27:22).

Yaacov was aware that what he did regarding the blessings was clearly within the desire of G-d. Yet Yaacov may have been deeply troubled by the gnawing question of how much of Esav’s character had seeped into his soul. Had "the hands of Esav" overtaken the spiritual "voice of Yaacov".

It is then that he is thrust into this place of aloneness .It is only in that solitude that he would have the opportunity to struggle with those fears to determine if indeed he was still on the path that G-d had decreed for him.

Yaacov was neither the first nor the last of his people that would need to learn the power of solitude. Abraham was called a Hebrew Ivri because when the whole world was on one side of the river, he had the courage to cross over ( La-Avor) and stand alone on the other side. Bilaam against his will was blessing the people and not cursing them when he declared that this people will be a "A nation that will dwell in solitude( Levadad)  and not be reckoned among the nations." (Numbers 23:9).

When the people of Israel lose their spiritual way, we read how the prophet Hoshea describes G-d telling them ”Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly unto her" (Hoshea 2:16).

It is in that wilderness and solitude that "the tender call of Hashem" can be heard .It is in their aloneness that they will find the strength to continue on their journey into destiny.

R’ Allan Schabes posits that the word Levado is used rather than the simpler word LEVAD to teach us a lesson. The first and last letters are a  lamed and a  Vav which spell the word “Lo (unto Him).These two letters surround another two letters Bet and a Dalet , which are a fragment of the word Badad meaning “aloneness”. The lesson to be learned from the structure of the word LEVADO, is that if one explores that sense of aloneness one can truly find one’s purpose in Him, our Creator. “Hashem is the one who is going ahead of you. He will be with you. He won’t abandon you or leave you. So don’t be afraid or terrified.“(Deuteronomy 31:8)


The Jewish people are then left with two choices. They can view the verse ” t is a nation that will dwell alone ( Levadad) , and will not be reckoned among the nations.(Numbers 23:9) as a curse and will do all that they can to escape their unique role.

On the other hand they can understand it as an opportunity to in fact hear that "the tender call of Hashem" .When that happens then we will see the fulfillment of the verse;

The haughty eyes of man will be humbled, and the height of men shall be bowed down, and Hashem alone shall be exalted on that day (nisgav Hashem livado)". (Isaiah 2:11)