10 Nov PARSHAS VAYEITZEI
There once was a family that moved to a home near the forest. The father said to his young son, “Don’t ever climb over the gate because there are wild animals, and even lions, in the forest.” The child didn’t listen and he climbed over the gate. The father quickly put on a lion costume and followed his son. He wanted to scare him, so his son wouldn’t ever go into the forest again. The child saw the ‘lion’ approaching, and shouted, “Father! Father! Help me! There’s a lion! There’s a lion!” The lion came closer, bit the screaming child, and the child ran home crying. “Father, you won’t believe what happened to me. I was in the forest, and a lion came and bit me. I called for you, but you didn’t come. Where were you?” “Where was I?” the father said, “I was the lion.” When people are going through hard times, they sometimes ask, why doesn’t Hashem save me? Did He forget me? Where is Hashem when I need Him? They forget that Hashem is the one who is creating the hard times. They shouldn’t ask “where is Hashem?” because Hashem is the One who did it. This simple and obvious concept is surprising. We are so aware of Hashem’s compassion, that it is hard for us to imagine that the hardships come from Him too. He is our source of salvation, how can we consider Him the cause of the hardships? But the truth is that everything, even hard times, comes from Hashem. Surely everything that happens is for the good, and Hashem definitely loves us and doesn’t want us to suffer. But there are times when we deserve and need castigation, for reasons that He knows. Even at these times, Hashem cares for us and minimizes the punishment to the lowest degree possible. But it is a mistake to ask, “Where is Hashem?” Because who gave us these troubles, if not Hashem? Reb Michoel Ber Weismandl zt”l, who saved many people from the holocaust, had an idea which would enable him to save thousands more, but there were those who prevented him (as is sadly known). Reb Michoel Ber was devastated and he poured out his broken heart to Rebbe Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch zy”a (the Maharyatz). The rebbe listened in silence and let Reb Michoel Ber say everything that was on his heart. Then the rebbe said one statement, which Reb Michoel Ber later admitted, changed his entire outlook. The rebbe spoke slowly, pausing between each word, so Reb Michoel Ber would grasp the message fully. The rebbe said, “And… who… did… all… of… this?”TorahWellsprings- Vaye tz ei This too was from Hashem. Those people who prevented the salvation were certainly punished, because they had free choice to do better, but the results couldn’t have been changed. Ultimately, Hashem decided (for reasons that are beyond our perception) that what happened, needed to occur – as devastating as it may be. Yaakov Avinu worked loyally for seven years to marry Rachel, but at the last moment Lavan cheated him, and brought Leah to the chuppah. Yaakov was very upset and said to Lavan, “mah zos asisa li? Halo veRachel avaditi imach velamah rimisani — what did you do to me? I worked for Rachel! Why did you deceive me?” (29:25). It seems that Yaakov had all the reason in the world to be upset (especially since this deceit resulted in many spiritual tragedies, as the holy sefarim tell us) nevertheless, the Yid HaKadosh of Peshischa zy”a says that Yaakov erred when he complained. He should have known that what happened was from Hashem. This doesn’t exonerate Lavan in any way. He was certainly punished for his deceitfulness, but we must know that everything that happens is from Hashem.
And Also the Good…
We must remember that the good we have also comes from Hashem. This is obvious, but people err in this matter as well. Because when good things comes to a person, it is often through messengers and intermediaries, and a person must be wise to recognize that the origin of it is Hashem. Consider the following: A poor person who receives a very large check in the mail from a caring philanthropist, where should he direct his gratitude? To the mailman, who brought the letter? Or perhaps, to the wealthy donor? The correct answer is that his primary thanks should go to Hashem, who is the true source of the goodness. A simple tailor once invited the Avnei Nezer zy”a to the bris of his first child, after he had been barren for fifteen years. The Avnei Nezer zy”a said that he planned to go to the bris. The gabbai asked him, “You don’t generally go to a bris that’s far away. Why do you want to travel to this one?” The Avnei Nezer replied, “That father made a kiddush Hashem; therefore I want to participate in this bris.” The Avnei Nezer explained, “The father told me, ‘Hashem helped me, and after fifteen years of waiting, Hashem granted me a son.’ That was the first time I hear someone say that the salvation came from Hashem. Generally, I hear people say that they received their yeshuah (salvation) from the rebbe of Gur, or from the Kotzker rebbe, or from Radzamin. This is the first time I hear someone recognizing that Hashem performed the miracle. This recognition is a kiddush Hashem, and therefore I want to attend the bris.”
Hardships are for our Benefit Benefit The Chofetz Chaim, in his sefer, Machanah Yisrael, relates the following mashal: There was once a wealthy landowner (poritz) who owned many taverns. He rented them out for three hundred rubles a month. Once, he had to travel, so he appointed a manager to run his estates and to collect the rent for him. This manager was a rasha and immediately raised the rent to five hundred rubles a month. One Yid, who was renting an inn, tried very hard to raise the money, but at the end of the month he only had 480 rubles. He gave them to the manager, promising that the following month, he would add the twenty rubles that were missing. But the manager didn’t forgive him. “For each ruble that is missing, you will receive a lashing”, and he hit him with a whip twenty times. The Yid returned home, crying and bruised. His wife asked him what happened, and he told her the entire story. Eventually, the wealthy poritz returned. The Yid immediately went to him and told him how he suffered while he was away. “The manager raised the price to 500 ruble, and he beat me twenty times, because I paid 480…” The poritz was very upset when he heard this, and he said, “For each beating, I will obligate the manager to pay you one hundred ruble. The manager owns a large territory in the city that is worth four thousand rubles. You can have half of it.” That night the Yid returned home crying. His wife asked him, “What happened? Did the manager beat you again?” “No. This time I am crying that he didn’t hit me more. If he would have hit me another twenty times, the manager’s entire estate would be mine.” Whenever we suffer, there is always a purpose. As the Midrash teaches, “HaKadosh Baruch Hu says, “When I give you suffering in this world, remember how much goodness I am giving you in Olam Haba.” There are hardships, but they are always from heaven, and always for our benefit. One of the benefits of hardships is that after the problem passes, Hashem will always send us great blessings. In this week’s parashah, Leah said that she bore children as a result of her suffering. When Reuven was born Leah said, “She called his name Reuven, because…Hashem saw my affliction…” (29:32). When Shimon was born Leah said, “Hashem heard that I was hated, so he also gave me this child…” (29:33). She attributed the good that she received to her suffering. This is a pattern, which Hashem placed into the world: after suffering, come special blessings. The Torah tells us, “Rachel saw that she wasn’t having children, and she was jealous of her sister. She said to Yaakov, ‘Give me children, or I am like the dead.’ “Yaakov became angry with Rachel, and he said, ‘Am I in Hashem’s place, who refrained you from [from bearing] children?” (30:1-2). Bederech tzachus, Rebbe Bunim of Peshischa zy”a said that Rachel wanted to get Yaakov Avinu angry. She saw that Leah was having children due to her suffering, so she aroused Yaakov’s anger upon herself, so she would also merit having children. This was said bederech tzachus (not an actual explanation, rather an enchanting way to remember that after hardships the blessings come) however, we will now share a true explanation, written by the Beer Mayim Chaim. He teaches that Rachel did indeed suffer shame, and in this merit, she had children. The Beer Mayim Chaim writes, “Chazal tell us that yesurim (strife) cleanses a person from sin. There is no greater yesurim than being disgraced… Rachel thought, ‘The maidservants [Bilhah and Zilpah] are having children, while I remain barren.” As a result of Rachel’s shame, she gave birth to Yosef, because after one suffers from shame and disgrace, good things happen to him. In Pirkei Avos it states, “Al tehi vaz lechol adam — do not look down at anyone.” The Chida teaches that Hashem placed into the rules of nature that whoever is disgraced, will be helped. Someone once humiliated Reb Meir of Permishlan zy”a, and the rebbe made a seudah to celebrate. People didn’t understand; why is the rebbe celebrating embarrassment and disgrace? Rebbe Meir of Permishlan explained, “We have a tradition that shame saves one from illnesses. If it weren’t for my disgrace, I would need to become ill, and after many weeks of worry, discomfort and pain, I would get better and then I would make a seudas hoda’ah to celebrate my recovery. Now, that I am saved from this entire ordeal, shouldn’t I celebrate?”