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  • Rav Moshe Weiss

Nahar U'Pashtei Parshas Vayaitzei

Yaakov’s Mission

In Yaakov Avinu’s dream, we find that Hashem appears to him as The G-d of your father Avraham and the G-d of Yitzchok. We begin our Shemoneh Esrei with a similar statement, recognizing Hashem as the G-d of Avraham, the G-d of Yitzchok, and the G-d of Yaakov. Why does Hashem mention that He is G-d twice in our verse, and why do we begin our davening with this seemingly repetitive declaration? The three distinct mentions of G-d’s sovereignty, each attached to the name of one of our Avos, serve to identify three key facets of service to Hashem, each built on a distinct way in which the Avos related with Him. Each of our forefathers had a unique mission, and it was his life’s work that became known to us as a specific way of relating to Hashem. Avraham brought to the world the foundation of avodas Hashem, which was the concept of being a servant to a Master. Hashem was the Master of the world and His edicts must be followed regardless of personal want or gains. And as Avraham perfected this concept, he reached a level of hishaleich lefanai veh’yeh samim. Then came Yitchok Avinu. He worked all his life to build on this hashkafah and turn it into a burning love for his Creator. The level of avodah born of this dedication is known to us a gevuras Yitzchok, for nothing can stand in the way of such a bond. As we have discussed in previous weeks, the akeidah was a chance to glimpse these two great men each exercise their connection with Hashem. We approach our tefillah each day recognizing the way our forefathers connected with Hashem, and recommitting ourselves to following in their footsteps. Now, to understand what Elokei Yaakov, the G-d of Yaakov, symbolizes for us, let us look a bit further in the passage. Yaakov awoke from his dream, and was afraid. He exclaimed that had he known that this was a place of the Shechinah - indeed, the place where the Beis HaMikdash would stand - he never would have allowed himself to sleep. Then, the next pasuk informs us that he woke up in the morning - which means that he went back to sleep! What are we to learn from this sequence of events? The answer is that we all know how Yaakov learned in Yeshiva for fourteen years without ever going to sleep. Now that his avodah was to go to find a wife and to leave the Yeshiva, he reasoned that he was allowed a pause in his steadfast dedication to learning, and he could rest. He was now on a different mission, and sleep was allowed. Hashem arranged for Yaakov to end up sleeping in this holiest of places to teach him the avodah that was to be his. Sleep was not a necessary evil standing in the way of learning, meant only to indulge in now. Sleep itself was meant to become holy. When a person uses the physical parts of this world solely for the purpose of shteiging, he elevates his physical actions and makes them holy! This is why Yaakov went back to sleep. He had been taught that it was his mission to sleep a sleep that was holy. Being mekadesh the physical world and walking the tight line between indulgence and need; this is the relationship codified in the phrase Elokai Yaakov. A gut Shabbos! A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss

Nahar U_Pashtei Parshas Vayaitzei 5781
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