Our parasha opens with Jacob stopping to sleep in the place where he has his dream of the angels and the ladder to heaven. The text says that he collected stones (in the plural) as a pillow for his head, but when he wakes up it turns out he had been sleeping upon a single stone. Rashi famously explains that the stones bickered amongst themselves, each one insisting that it deserved the honor of being Jacob’s pillow, so God appeased them by miraculously combining them into a single large stone.
Rabbi Yom-Tov Lipa (d. 1904), Grand Rebbe of Siget, had many opponents in his city. Once, while at the table with his disciples, a large stone was thrown through the window. The rebbe ducked, and by a miracle the stone did not injure him. One of the disciples picked it up and said, “How awful. What a terrible person to throw such a stone, which is large enough to seriously injure someone!” “No,” said the rebbe, “We must not suspect people of throwing such stones. It must be that they threw a bunch of small stones; and, in the midst of arguing amongst themselves – each stone saying, ‘Let me be the one to come up against the head of this rabbi’ – they were made all into a single stone.”
The capacity to de-escalate a fraught situation when one is the intended victim takes incredible courage and discipline. To do so with a humorous play on the Rashi commentary requires knowledge and intellectual agility. Torah at its best.
Rabbi Mitch Levine