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B”H

VAYEITZEI: TRUE WEALTH AND HAPPINESS
By Rabbi Yonassan Biggs

 

---

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 weddings, 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 towards them. 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 principles, 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. This also made him a clean vessel to receive copious blessings from Hashem Escaping the Galut mentality brings us closer to the reality of Moshiach. May we merit Moshiach’s coming today!

 

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Biggs

Dedicated in merit of Geraz Grace Bat Sarah Cayre of blessedmemory on the occasion of her Shloshim. May her soul be bound in the bond of eternal life with Hashem.

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