Shalom and Bracha!
Last week’s Torah portion concluded with
Yitzchak and Rivkah sending Yaakov to Charan to get married.
This week’s portion describes his journey to Charan, his finding
marriages, the birth of his children, and his amassing of
wealth. Interestingly, although most of his life was spent in
Israel, all of these were accomplished outside of the borders of
Israel. “The acts of the forefathers are a sign to the
children,” and Yaakov’s life in Charan serves as an example for
our service of Hashem in the time of Galut (exile).
When Yaakov was departing Israel, he prayed
that Hashem would watch over him. He vowed, If G-d will be with
me, and He will protect me on the path which I go, and give me
food to eat and clothing to wear… I will dedicate a house for
G-d and a tenth of all He gives me I will dedicate to charity.
Before entering exile, the first thing he did was pray. This is
because he understood that his path to success is based Hashem’s
blessings, not Yaakov skills. Further, he made a vow. This is
because in order to overcome the negative influence of Galut, he
needed a deeper commitment, a vow.
Yaakov’s vow teaches us the approach by which we
can not only endure through Galut, but also prosper. We know
each word of the Torah is exact. Yaakov asked for Hashem to
protect him. We must be cognizant that Galut is a place from
which we need protection. Often, following the Torah restricts
our mingling into certain aspects of society. For example,
keeping Kosher and Shabbat put constraints on our social lives.
We must realize that this is a divine blessing and protection
rather than a burden.
Further, Yaakov asked for bread to eat and
clothing to wear. The words of the Torah are exact and none of
them are extraneous. Why did he ask for bread to eat and
clothing to wear? What else would one do with bread and
clothing? Yaakov was promising Hashem that he would not confuse
the means with the goal. Our physical needs are an intermediary
by which we serve Hashem. When we are healthy and well clothed,
we can serve Hashem in a better manner. The mentality of Galut
is that the means are themselves goals. We seek to compete with
our neighbors in garb and in lifestyle, accumulating and
ingesting all that is within our power in order to create envy
among our neighbors or satisfy our own envy. Yaakov vowed not to
be drawn into the Galut mentality, but rather have bread to eat
and clothing to wear.
Further, he promised to tithe his earnings and
create a house for Hashem. Rather than seeking wealth as a goal,
he perceived earning money as a part of service to Hashem, an
opportunity to help others and serve Hashem. When wealth is a
goal, possessions are a burden. When wealth is a means,
possessions are a blessing. Understandably, when making money is
a part of serving Hashem, it must be done in an honest manner
without hurting others. This approach elicited a tremendous
blessing of wealth from Hashem.
While he was working for Lavan, Yaakov
demonstrated remarkable integrity. Lavan was a thief and
consistently dealt dishonestly with Yaakov. Rather than respond
with similar dishonesty, Yaakov lived his life according to his
principle, those of decency and honesty. This left him with a
pure heart and conscience. Furthermore, his integrity was a
Kiddush Hashem, a sanctification of G-d’s name. Thus, every
moment of his work was service of G-d. Yaakov understood all of
these lessons as the foundations of success in marriage and each
of them led to a true bond of love, joy and respect.
Escaping the Galut mentality brings us closer
to the reality of Moshiach. May we merit Moshiach’s coming
Dedicated to Tam Baruch and Jack Gindi on the
occasion of their wedding. May their home be a beacon of
blessings and love for Torah and Judaism
A Project of Chabad of Great Neck
400 East Shore Rd. Great Neck NY 11024
516 4874554 fax 516 4874807
In Israel, they have been praying for rain for
several weeks. This Monday night, December 5th, in the evening
prayer, we begin to pray for rain in the ninth blessing of the
Amidah. We continue until Pesach. Ashkenazim add the words Tal
Umatar Livracha (grant dew and rain for a blessing) and Sefardim
change to Barech Aleinu. This change is very important, to the
extent that if one forgets, he needs to pray again. May Hashem
shower us will his blessings.