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  • Rav Moshe Weiss

Nahar U'Pashtei Parshas Vayishlach

He Never Leaves Us

Last week we discussed the concept of Elokei Yaakov, and that Yaakov’s special avodah was to walk the line of utilizing the mundane for a holy purpose. Continuing in this theme, we can explain the significance of the monument stones Yaakov Aveinu establishes and places oil, and in our Parshah, wine as well, atop them. A monument represents the limits that a person or thing has reached, with no more potential for growth. One large stone is erected to symbolize finality. Just as a stone will not grow larger, the monument symbolizes that whatever it represents has achieved its end. In the case of a deceased person, the monument at their tomb represents the totality of what they were able to accomplish in this world. When Yaakov Aveinu took oil; shmaltz, fat, which is the perfect medium to portray physical excess and desire, and poured it upon a monument, this symbolized that the pleasures of this world must be limited, used only to aid us in our journey upward. In our Parshah, after Hashem changed Yaakov’s name to Yisrael, promised him children that would be kings, and renewed the promise to his fathers that his descendants would receive Eretz Yisrael, Yaakov renewed his commitment with another monument. This time he pours not only oil, but wine as well. The wine represented the joy one must have in his lifestyle in order to properly thrive in this new world of using the physical and sanctifying it. This joy will not only propel him forward, but will guard him from falling prey to the ever-present pitfalls that the physical world presents. How can a person feel this joy? One must realize that he is living a life of doing the ratzon Hashem, and this should allow him to cultivate the satisfaction and indeed the happiness he requires in order to continue to live a Torah lifestyle in peace. All these lessons in hand, perhaps we can explain an interesting language used by the pasuk. The Torah tells us Hashem rose up from above [Yaakov] in the place that He had spoken with him. Rashi raises the question of the seemingly extra words in the place He had spoken with him. Why does the pasuk need to make a point of the fact that Hashem departed from the place that He spoke to Yaakov? Following the thread we are discussing, there is a profound lesson hidden here. For in the very next pasuk Yaakov erects the second monument we mention earlier. Yaakov was committing to this new life of sanctifying the physical and building serenity in avodas Hashem in the very place that Hashem departed from him. Both pesukim mention that it was this place to emphasize this added potency to our commitment. Even when Hashem’s face is hidden - alluded to by the fact that Hashem had departed from there - we do not falter! We continue to serve him, and live lives full of trust and the serenity born of true bitachon. And to further this point even more, when the Torah says that Yaakov made his commitment, it uses the words, the place He had spoken with him, identical to the first pasuk, rather than, the place He had departed from. For even when we talk of Hashem leaving us, he has not departed. He is in the exact same place he was before, only He is hidden from us. Hashem is indeed still there, in the exact same place He was when things were better. It thus behooves us to strengthen our tefillos and ask Him to end our tzaros. A gut Shabbos! A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss

Nahar U_Pashtei Vayishlach
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