Parshas Vayeitzei 2018: Nothing Left To Ask
Yaakov Avinu (Jacob) traveled from Beer-Sheva to Haran. Enroute, he spent the night on Mount Moriah. As he drifted off into slumber, Yaakov dreamt of a ladder reaching from his head to heaven with angels ascending and descending it’s rungs. Hashem came to Yaakov. He taught him of the holiness of the ground for which he lay; the future sight of the Beis Hamikdash (Holy Temple). Hashem also reiterated His promise from Avraham and Yitzchak, to Yaakov. He promised Yaakov that he would have many offspring. Hashem assured Yaakov that He would always be with him.
Yaakov awoke in the morning and with a clear, palpable feeling of Hashem’s presence he made a vow. “If G-d is with me… then this stone which I have set up as a pillar shall become a house of G-d...” (Genesis 28:20)
The Medrish Tanchuma teaches in the name of Rabbi Berachia,
“Whatever Yaakov asked of Hashem, He gave him.
As a matter of fact, we can see this in the pesukim (verses).
Yaakov said “If G-d is with me”, and G-d replied “And now I am with you”.
Yaakov said “If He guards me”, and G-d replied “I will guard you wherever you go”.
Yaakov said “If I return in peace”, and G-d replied “I will return you”.
However when Yaakov said “If He gives me bread”, we don't find Hashem reciprocating with a response. Hashem didn’t promise him bread because had Yaakov been promised everything, (protection, guidance, security, and sustenance,) Yaakov would have nothing more for which to daven (pray).
The Torah records the chronicles of the avos (forefathers) for a specific reason; for us to learn from their ways. We have mentioned elsewhere, Hashem’s Torah is not a history book (although there is a lot of history to be learned in it), rather an instruction manual or guide for how to live the elevated lifestyle of a Yid (Jew). The avos lived in an era prior to the giving of the Torah. As such, we do not derive any mitzvah observance/halachos from them. Proper character and behavior is what we glean from our forefathers.
What we can learn from Yaakov Avinu specifically in this episode of our parsha is twofold:
1. No matter where we stand, Hashem is always willing to embrace us because we are His beloved.
2. Hashem withholds from us things as basic as food just so that we can daven for them. (Interestingly, the Nefesh HaChaim states, as a rule, we do not eat before the morning prayers because it is improper for the subjects to eat before the King, and what is His food? Tefillah!). Hashem wants His children to reach out to Him and build a relationship with Him. After all, this is our purpose; to build the best relationship with our Creator through the study of His Torah and observance of His Mitzvos.
Have a wonderful Shabbos and weekend!
Maverick V. Peters