Vayeitzei

To Feed the Whole World

Jul 9, 2020 |

In this week’s parsha, Yaakov Avinu makes a vow as he flees to Charan. As part of this vow, he says, “V’nasan li lechem l’echol ubeged lilbosh,” “[If] Hashem will give me bread to eat and clothes to wear.” Many of the tzaddikim ask why Yaakov needed to specify that the food was to eat, and the clothes were to wear. Are the functions of bread and clothing not self-explanatory? Rebbe Yehoshua of Galanta answers with a beautiful idea. The…

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Rachel’s Sacrifice

Jul 9, 2020 |

In this week’s parsha we read about how Lavan tricked Yaakov Avinu into marrying Leah despite having worked seven years for the privilege of marrying Leah’s sister, Rachel. Chazal teach us that because he had anticipated Lavan’s deceit, Yaakov had given Rachel a special sign so he could ascertain that she was indeed the woman he was marrying. Unable to tolerate Leah’s shame, Rachel told her this secret sign she and Yaakov had made, enabling Leah to marry Yaakov Avinu…

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Beyond Choice

Jul 9, 2020 |

“And behold, angels were ascending an descending on it. And behold, Hashem was planted standing above him…” In Michtav M’Eliyahu, Rav Eliyahu Dessler famously discusses the concept of “nekudas habechirah”, the ever-shifting locus of free choice. (This idea is founded in Likutei Moharan 72.) At different stages of our lives, the dynamic of our free choice changes. For example, while a recent Ba’al Teshuvah may struggle with using his phone on Shabbos, a few years down the line it is…

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Bridging Heaven and Earth

Jul 9, 2020 |

The Midrash (Bereishes Rabbah 68:1) states that before his departure from Be’er Sheva to work in the fields of Lavan, Yaakov Avinu considered the lives of his forebearers and grew discouraged. “Esah einai el he’harim; al tikrei ‘harim’ elah ‘horim’” – Yaakov looked at the elevated lives of Yitzchak and Yaakov, lives shining with Torah and intense spirituality, and was frustrated with his lowly lot. But then he strengthened himself, saying, “ezri mei’im Hashem” – “Just as they remained bound…

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Waking Up in the Presence of the King

Jul 9, 2020 |

In this week’s parsha, Yaakov Avinu sleeps in the place where the Beis HaMikdash is destined to stand. Upon awakening, he says, “Surely Hashem was in this place, and I did not know.” The tzaddik Rebbe Reuven of Djarnowitz saw this verse as containing an important message for all Jews, in every generation. One of the primary halachic authorities for Ashkenazic Jewry, the Rama, begins his famous work with the words, “’I have placed God before me, always’ – this…

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