FIRST STEP TO SALVATION
We learn from this weekís Torah portion, Parshas
Vayeitzei, about ``Hishtadlus``,
making an effort to achieve what we need. It is something that comes up in this
portion a number of times.
Yaakov bought the birthright from his brother Esav.
After claiming their father, Yitzchokís blessings, Esav became jealous and sought to slay Yaakov. Upon his
mother, Rifkaís advice, Yaakov fled from his parentís
house to the land of Padan Aram
where her brother, Lavan, Yaakovís
uncle lived. Rivka wanted Yaakov to seek refuge from his brother, Esavís (Esauís) wrath and to find a wife for himself from
several things; he had to be safe from his brother Esav,
he had to get married and begin to build his family which eventually was to
become G-dís nation, the Children of Israel and he
needed parnassah, food and clothes. He had spent 14
years at the academy of Shem Víayver, learning
Torah and preparing himself for community and married life, now he was ready to
set out to his uncle, Lavanís town Charan in Padan Aram.
Scripture states, ``He reached the place and spent the night there because the
sun had set. `` Scripture does not identify which place but, [it refers to] the
place5 mentioned elsewhere, which is Mount Moriah, the location where
Avraham almost sacrificed his son Yitzchok to fulfill
the Divine Prophesy of Hashem. This place became consecrated through Avraham
and Yitzchokís act of faith and eventually became the
place where the Bais Hamikdash, the Holy Temples were
to be built. Upon realizing he passed this awesome place he immediately turned
back to Mount Moriah to stop
off there to offer a prayer of thanks to Hashem who thus far had protected him
from harm and to beseech Hashem to help him succeed in his future objectives.
The Rabbis infer
from the terminology of this verse, ``Vayifgah``
to express ``He reached.`` as a term for
prayer, and also to mean ``to come upon someplace unexpectedly``, to teach you
that ``The earth shrank for him`` implying that his trip was miraculously
shortened. The verse continues, ``Because the sun has set.`` It should have said ``And the sun set`` and he ``spent the night there.`` ``Because the sun has set``
implies that the sun set suddenly for him, not at its appointed time so that he
would be forced to stay there overnight. Indeed
immediately after taking the first step to return to the place where his
fathers prayed, everything occurred all at once; the sun setting, the shortening
of the journey, Mount Moriah ``advanced to greet him``
and he merited to see the dream-vision of the ladder with the angels ascending
and descending on it.
This teaches us
a great lesson: taking that first step, that initial effort, puts into play the
fulfillment of oneís needs. The greatest hishtadlus
is to sincerely pray for Hashemís salvation. Hashem
provides for all our needs.
see this theme also with regard to our Matriarch, Leah. Yaakov desired to marry
Rachel, Leahís sister. People were saying that Rivkah
(Lavanís brother) had two sons, Esav
and Yaakov; and Lavan had two daughters, Leah and
Rachel; The older daughter will marry Esav (The wicked), the elder son and Rachel will marry
Yaakov (the scholar), the younger son. Leah was devastated that she may become Esavís wife. She cried and prayed as the verse says, ``The eyes of Leah were tender`` (from her constant
crying. Rashi). Her hishtadlus
paid off, Yaakov eventually married her as well as Rachel! The odds were
totally against her! There were four rationales that made Rachel the most
likely daughter to wed Yaakov;
1. She was the
younger daughter and Yaakov was Rivkaís youngest son.
2. She was
beautiful and certainly most desirable to Yaakov.
3. When Yaakov
saw Rachel, Scripture states, ``Yaakov loved Rochel.
Therefore he arranged with Lavan Ö
4. ``I will
work for you seven years for Rochel...`` for she
was Yaakovís ``beshert``.
But since ``The eyes of Leah were tender`` from her crying and
prayer to be wed to Yaakov, she ended up as Yaakovís
is the awesome power of prayer that can turn events around.
This premise appears again when Yaakov, after
working 20 years (seven years for Rachel who Lavan
switched for Leah on their wedding night; another seven years for Rachel and 6
years as a paid worker tending Lavanís sheep) for Lavan, decides he had enough of his father-in-lawís swindles.
He wishes to receive his wages and to go with his family and take leave of Lavan. Yaakov says to Lavan, ``Now
when will I also do something for my own house?`` Yaakov
suggests an arrangement, ``I will go through all your flocks this day. I
will remove from them every lamb that is speckled, or spotted, and every dark
one among the sheep, and every goat that is spotted and speckled. That [kind]
will be my wage.`` Lavan,
the paradigm swindler removes all such sheep from his flock so that the
remaining white sheep will mate and will only give birth to white sheep. He
cheated Yaakov so that he will have no sheep to claim as wages. What did Yaakov
do? He ``took rods of fresh poplar, hazel and chestnut [trees], and peeled
white stripes in them by uncovering the white which is in the rods. †He set up the rods that he had peeled in the
ducts in the watering troughs, where the sheep [ewes] came to drink`` When they
mated they all gave birth to ringed, speckled and spotted [lambs] ``. When Lavan saw this, he undoubtedly slapped his head and pulled
out his hair, ``Oh Noooo! Why did I change the
conditions! Why did I remove the colored sheep! Now all the white sheep are
producing colored sheep that are all going to Yaakov! ``
Yaakov set up his hishtadlus
and Hashem brought about the blessing.
May we merit effective hishtadlus
and leave the rest to Hashem.