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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

VaYishlach 8-6

And (he) sent

Genesis 35:12(A), 14(S) – 36:19

And so it was, as her soul was departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-Oni; but his father called him Benjamin. (Gen. 35:18 LBLA)

Why did Yaakov change the name Benoni?

Rachel died before time because of the curse that Yaakov pronounced against the person that took Lavan's idols. The power of words is great and we do well when we think before saying them.

In the moment of dying, Rachel named her son, who was being born, the name Benoni –בן-אוני  which means son of my sorrow. But Yaakov changed his name to Binyamin – בנימין which means son of the right (side, hand).

In the geography of the Torah, the east is always on the front, not like nowadays, where maps place north ahead. Therefore, the right side also implies south. In Psalm 89:12 the Hebrew word yamin ימין  – appears as a reference to the south. That is why Rashi says that the name Binyamin is a reference to the place of birth of this son, he was the only one who was born in the land of Kenaan, south from Padan Aram, where all the other sons of Yaakov were born.

Yaakov didn't want to allow the sorrow of losing his beloved wife to prevent him from reaching the goal that he had set in his mind since leaving Lavan's house. He wanted to get to his father Yitzchak. Yitzchak was in the south, so south was the goal to reach for Yaakov at that time. That's why he changed the name of Rachel's second son, to note that sorrow would not characterize his son, but the vision of what was ahead. The change of name shows us how important this vision was for Yaakov.

There was only a small distance between him and his goal, where his father was. Chevron is not far from Bet-Lechem. And finally, Yaakov reached the goal and he could see his father. (35:27).

Don't allow sorrow and grief that come across your way to make you lose sight of the goals that the Eternal placed ahead of you.

May HaShem help us not to fall in the pit of bitterness but to reach our goals,


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