“Rivka took the clothes of Eisav… and placed them upon her younger son, Yaakov.”

Along the path toward closeness with our Source, obstacles, difficulties, and challenges abound. The moment we resolve to return to the Master of the world, the yetzer hara gets right to work, making use of an endless number of strategies to distract us from what we truly want and knock us off course. These troubles are sourced in Middas HaDin, Hashem’s trait of Harsh-Judgement, which highlights past mistakes that render us unworthy to receive the great gift of spiritual success. Because Hashem is “Oheiv mishpat”, a lover of justice, He is compelled to make it more difficult for us to reach our goals, in accordance with the strict ruling of Middas HaDin.

However, in addition to being an “Oheiv mishpat”, our Sages teach that Hashem is also “Oheiv amo Yisrael”, a lover of His people, am Yisrael. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov writes that Hashem’s love for am Yisrael is far greater than His love of justice. Therefore, the tzaddik teaches that although He must permit the Satan to arrange obstacles along the path to His embrace, His overpowering love for am Yisrael compels Hashem to hide Himself within these challenges. While, on the surface, the obstacles we encounter may appear to be impassable, we are able to find Hashem concealed within these very challenges, giving us the strength to overcome and rooting us on – if we only have the wisdom to look. The implication of Hashem’s presence in the difficulties we meet in attempting to serve Him is that when we search for Him within the pain and despair and find the strength to carry on, the obstacle itself is transformed into an aid, helping us proceed to ever higher levels. When we realize that Hashem is specifically hiding within those places that appear to be most absent of His presence, every wall becomes a door, every fence becomes a ladder, and every boulder becomes a stepping-stone, enabling us to grow closer to our goal.

Commenting on the verse, “He calls out to me from Se’ir” (Yeshayahu 21:11), Chazal comment, “If a person asks you, “Where is your God,” answer him, “In the Metropolis of Rome.” (Yerushalmi Taanis, 1) Rebbe Nachman sees this Gemara as conveying this important message: Hashem is specifically to be found in those places we think He is not. From the depth of Roman hedonism and perversity, Hashem calls to the Jewish soul, encouraging us to persevere and cling to holiness.

Perhaps we may suggest, based on a teaching from Kedushas Levi, that the root of this model is to be found in our parsha. Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchov teaches that when Yaakov Avinu disguised himself in Eisav’s clothing to receive his father’s blessing, this action sparked a spiritual revolution. From that time onward, any Jew who encounters an “Eisav” in the form of an obstacle, difficulty, challenge, disappointment, or failure, can look past the surface – for it is only a facade. Hashem calls to us from the Metropolis in Rome (a nation descendant from Eisav); the garments of Eisav are only a disguise. If we have the wisdom to search, it is possible to find the sweet encouragement of Yaakov Avinu hiding underneath, granting us the strength to survive, overcome, and thrive.

Looking beyond the surface of the challenges we face, we will find the loving presence of Hashem.

Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchov
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R’ Yaakov Klein is the founder of the Lost Princess Initiative, an author, musician, and lecturer devoted to sharing the inner light of Torah through his books, music, and lectures.

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