Yaakov placed twelve stones around his head (Bereishis 28:11) to protect him from animals (refer to Rashi). Why was he not scared that animals would attack the rest of his body and how would those small stones, which were small enough to collectively fit under his head when he slept, protect his head at all? Also, if he placed them there for protection wouldn't the miracle of them merging into one to all be his pillow defeat his intention of using them as defense?

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    Citing where he did so (and the miracle) would improve your question vastly. (Really, I should close this as "It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete" (a standard closure reason) because you don't give any context all: which Yaakov are you speaking of, even?)
    – msh210
    Dec 11, 2012 at 2:01
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    The question is based on a combination of midrashic sources and assumptions made by the questioner, all of which need to be clearly laid out and dealt with individually before a general question can be asked.
    – LazerA
    Dec 11, 2012 at 6:59

3 Answers 3


From http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/kahn/archives/vayetze66.htm

Rashi quotes from the Midrash that the purpose of these stones was to protect him from the wild animals roaming free in the area. It seems strange that Jacob should think that a single row of stones could provide him with any real protection against the attack of wild animals. The truth is however that Jacob here teaches us a most important lesson: A person should in any given situation do whatever he can to protect himself and to provide for him and his family by any honest means available. At the same time, he must be aware that his personal effort will not protect him or provide for him; rather, G'd's constant watching over him is what takes care of his every need.

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    I posted as two separate answers because they are so different.
    – Ariel
    Dec 11, 2012 at 10:08

From http://blog.sinaischolars.com/2011/12/the-impenetrable-stones/

The Chassidic Masters explained this event as follows: Jacob knew that he was leaving the comfortable, holy presence of his father and mother in Israel, to wander into the unknown, corrupt territory of his uncle Lavan in a foreign land. There he would work day and night, trying to survive and still keep his moral character together, his trust and devotion to G-d intact. That’s why he prepared himself with an additional time secluded in learning about G-d and instilling these values internally. But even so, once he would enter the world of the conniving Lavan, how could he possibly keep his moral character strong? This is why Jacob surrounded only his head. Jacob was saying: “I’m not scared of the physical wild animals, but the spiritual ones! My spiritual integrity and beliefs will be attacked at every moment, and therefore I must always keep what’s in my head - what I have learned and what I believe now – intact.


I also had this question and saw a nice answer here which suggest he had to do minimum hishtadlus:

The Saba of Kelm explains that tzaddikim {the righteous} live with the concept that everything that goes on around us is miraculous. There really is no such thing as teva {nature}. Every event of this world bears the mark of the clear, unmistakable hand of Hashem, though it’s often veiled behind the cloak of what we call nature.

Nevertheless, one can’t rely on those miracles. One must do all that is within their ability and only then trust that Hashem will pick up from that point.

Yaakov was not afraid of animals! He was afraid that he had not yet done all that he was able in order to minimize the miracle of Hashem’s protecting him. The animals themselves are powerless. Hashem is omnipotent. If I haven’t done what I can, I have Hashem to fear. Hashem, and Hashem alone. Yaakov was therefore afraid.

He placed rocks around his head. Almost futile in warding off beasts but nevertheless accomplishing the minimizing of the miracle. At that point he was no longer afraid. He went to sleep.

Rav Sholom Shwadron zt”l expounds on this. Imagine if we were on a safari and were separated from our guide and group. Alone and unprotected in the African jungle with darkness stealthily approaching. Surrounded by the roars of lions and the grunts and calls of other beasts we’d try to focus our thoughts on trusting in Hashem’s providence. Even if we’d succeed, if we’d look down at our body we’d see that we’re trembling. Sleep?! Fahgedaboudit!

Yet, Yaakov was perfectly calm. There was no longer any cause for fear. He’d done what he could. He was now in the hands of his Creator. Time to turn in…He went to sleep…

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