Illuminations #52, Cheshvan 5776, Parshat Vayeitzei

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Illuminations #52, Cheshvan 5776, Parshat Vayeitzei

Torah Gems

“Behold, I am with you, I will guard you wherever you go… I will not forsake you.” (28:15)

The Midrash quotes Rav Issi who interprets Hashem’s promise to Yaakov as a general ‘guarding,’ alongside a more specific guarantee of parnasa, as the posuk says, “I will not forsake you.” The Dubno Maggid asks: how did Rav Issi see a guarantee of parnasa in the words, “I will not forsake you?”

He uses the following parable to answer this question. There was once a man who was preparing to send his son on a trip to a faraway country. For many days prior to the trip, he and his wife rushed around preparing everything his son would need. His wife spent many hours cooking him food and knitting him a warm sweater while he went to the store looking for warm shoes and a new coat for his son. He also went to the bank and took out a large sum of money that he intended to give his son for any expenses he may have along the way. As they were making all these preparations, they received word that a group of robbers had set up a camp along the road their son intended to travel. They both began to worry until the father decided he would accompany his son and travel with him in order to protect him. Finally, the day came for his departure and there were lots of emotional goodbyes. As the son promised to his mother that he would write to her, the father prepared the horse and carriage. It came time to set off when suddenly the son shouted out, “Father, you didn’t give me any money! What will I do if I need to buy something along the way?” His father looked at him and responded, “My dear son, you do not need any money. I am coming with you and I will pay for anything we may need.”

Rav Issi understood Hashem’s words, “I will not forsake you,” to be sufficient reason for Yaakov not to worry about anything at all during his journey. How wonderful it is to have Hashem with us through all aspects of our journeys in life!


Parsha Pearls

Maimonides writes that after Rochel realized that she could not rely on the Tefillos of Yaakov to have children, she started to daven fervently for herself. Therefore, in addition to giving her maidservant, Bilhah, as a wife to Yaakov and purchasing the fertility-inducing flowers, duda’im, from Leah, Rochel davened passionately to Hashem to have children. Finally, Hashem listened and opened her womb. Clearly, it was her passionate davening that made her worthy to have a share in the creation of The Chosen People and made her one of our Matriarchs. This conveys an important lesson. People who are affected by troubles or illnesses seek the blessings of great, holy Jews. This behavior is certainly commendable as we see the source for this in the Gemara in Bava Basra. However, Rochel our Matriarch teaches us that although it is admirable to seek the blessing and prayers of Gedolim, it is ultimately one’s own actions and efforts of begging and praying to Hashem that bring salvation. The Mishna in Avos states, “Im ein ani li mi li?!”  “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?!” May all our tefillos be answered for the good!


Glimpses of Greatness

Rav Yechezkel Abramski, the Chief Rabbi of England and one of our recent Torah Giants, was summoned to court to give testimony in a certain case. The judge turned to him in the middle of his testimony and asked if it was true that he is considered one of the greatest and most respected Rabbis in the country? R’ Yechezkel answered that indeed it is true. The judge continued to question him and said, “But Rabbi, doesn’t your faith teach you to be humble?” Yes, R’ Chatzkel replied, but since he is in court for testimony, he is under oath, and despite his humility interests, he must say the truth!

Halacha Weekly

Q. Can one make a personal request during their prayers on Shabbat?
A. Our sages tell us (Yerushalmi, Shabbat 15;3) one is forbidden to ask for any personal requests on Shabbat.
However, there is a known custom that women do ask for personal requests when they light candles and the halacha is that a woman accepts Shabbat at the time of her candle lighting. How does this work out with what our Sages tell us?
The time a woman lights candles Erev Shabbat is a special and favorable moment to ask for certain Bakashot (requests) and make special prayers, and we do not have the same opportunity during the week to make a request like we do at the time of candle lighting. Rabbeinu Bachya writes in Parshat Yitro that the time of lighting candles Erev Shabbat is an important and auspicious time to pray for our children.
Therefore, we conclude that if a person is faced with special circumstances, one is allowed to make a personal request on Shabbat. For example, if someone is visiting the Kotel on Shabbat and that is the only time that they are going to be there, then it is permissible for that individual to pray for his/her personal needs at that time, since they will not have a similar chance to do it later.

May Hashem please bless Choneh Shimon ben Esther with a Refuah Shlaima.