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“And Yaakov was a simple (perfect) man dwelling in tents.” (25:31)

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Many definitions are applied to the word “tam” – simple, plain, scholarly, single-minded, etc. These attributes all apply to Yaakov’s character. The phrase dwelling in tents seems to refer to his amazing diligence in Torah study. Noting the plural term “tents”, the Midrash interprets the Torah’s emphasis to be a message that Yaakov went from one tent of Torah to another seeking whatever Torah knowledge was available. It therefore seems peculiar that the word used for describing Yaakov’s singular devotion to Torah study is “dwelling”. Would it not have been more appropriate to state that “Yaakov studies” in the tents of Torah, rather than dwells in them?


We may derive from this pasuk that it was not only Yaakov’s extraordinary diligence which distinguished him, but rather it was his entire attitude towards Torah study. Yaakov “dwelled” in the Bais Hamedrash. The relationship between Yaakov and the Torah was not measured by the amount of time he spent studying it, but by the manner in which he focused his entire life around Torah. Yaakov did not merely study Torah in the Yeshiva; his home and place of sustenance was the Yeshiva. Hence the term Yeshiva (a place for Torah study) is more than an educational institution for the scholarly study of Torah. It is a ben Torah’s home in which his life is completely enveloped and guided by Torah study.

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