Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Parshas Vayishlach

There's a well known Carelbach song from a possuk in this weeks Torah reading: VAYIVASER YAAKOV LIVADO, VAYIAVEK ISH IMO...
 Eisav's malach (angel) suddenly appears and attacks Yaakov. How did Yaakov allow himself to be caught in such a vulnerable position? Didn't he know that he can't be alone at night when He Who Must Not Be Named is in power?!?
What was little, innocent Yaakov doing all by himself on the other side of the river?
The possuk tells us that he went back for the pachim k'tanim, the little vessels that he accidentally left behind.
Ummmm... he risked getting beaten to a pulp to retrieve his worthless, little bottles? He was willing to give up his life, for the 5 cent refund?!
And also, what was the real meaning of the fight between them?
By the commandment of lo sachmod, do not covet, the IBN EZRA addresses a valid point.
Hey, I'm human. If I see something I like, I want it.
 Now, I'm not promoting Kleptomania.  We have no right to rob someone of what they have, but I definitely will desire one of my own.  It's an instinctive feeling that apparently can't be controled. So how can we have an issur of lo sachmod (do not covet) commanded to human beings?
Let's use our imagination for a moment. We'll travel back to a time and place much different than the days we know.  In the times of old, the people were split into two categories. The Aristocrats- the high and mighty snobs, who would rather die than give eye contact or say a word to the second category, who were the Peasants. They were farmers- low-lives who toiled and labored all day.
They also had kings. Today, when we hear "king", we think of the one on a deck of cards, or on a chess board. We can't understand the full importance and might of a king, since that concept is nonexistent in our lives. But, if the Aristocrats were snotty and high, imagine who the king was.
Ok. Now, what do you think would happen if Yentel the shadchan called up Old McDonald, the farmer, and proposed a prospective marriage partner to him-- the daughter of  King John Paul the 82nd? 
The princess?!?!? No way! It wouldn't even cross his mind to marry the princess. He doesnt even desire to marry the princess. He knows that it's completely out of his range. It's a world beyond him. When something is out of your league, you don't even desire it because you know that it's impossible.
A person who has proper hashkafa, and understands that the world runs on hashgacha pratis (Divine Providence), knows that EVERYTHING he's got was given to him for a reason. And anything else, is just beyond his range, and he doesnt need it, nor want it.
I never buy clothing that are "one size fits all". Aside from the fact that "one size fits all" is always one size too small on me, I like to buy clothing that fit me perfectly. Even if I find the most beautiful outfit, if the fit is wrong, it looks awful.
Everything we have- our families, looks, personality, brains, money, jobs, whatever it may be, Hashem custom made each package for each individual person. All of our life circumstances were made just to our size. A perfect fit. To think that I'd be better off with more or less of anything, would be buying "one size fits all", and ruining the perfect look.
A few years ago, I surprised two of my students who were hard workers, and deserved a vacation. I bought them tickets to two vastly different, but equally exciting places in the world. Chana was going to Florida, and Rivka was going to Alaska. I told them each to pack what they needed for their trips, and I'll meet them outside the dorm. I waited... and waited... and waited... no one emerged. Who wouldnt take me up on such an offer? Going inside to see what was causing the delay, I couldn't believe what I saw. Chana went to spy on Rivka to see what she put into her suitcase. A scarf!? Boots?!? I don't have those!, and she quickly ran to throw hers in. Well, Rivka, then noticed Chana's swimsuit and sunscreen, and immediately went and added hers into her suitcase. This went on and on, until believe it or not, Chana was ready for her vacation in Florida with her earmuffs and hot cocoa, while Rivka was off to Alaska with her  flip flops and iced tea. Well, Chana turned into a pancake, and Rivka became an igloo. And they lived happily ever after.
(This is a fictitious story, but hey, you get the point).
If I don't like what's in my suitcase, I'VE GOT A PROBLEM WITH THE PACKER! The bottom line in the middah of kinah, jealousy, is that I BELIEVE I SHOULD HAVE THAT, which, in essence means I DON'T THINK G-D KNOWS WHAT HE'S DOING. Ouch. The underlying cause of jealousy, therefore, would be a LACK OF BITACHON.
One who is satisfied with each aspect of his life, he's happy with the suitcase that was packed for him, he appreciates clothing that fit him properly, he's sameach b'chelko, happy with his lot, this is a person who achieved a proper level of bitachon (trust in G-d). And, this someone wouldn't even DESIRE what the next one has, since he knows it's completely out of his league.  
Yaakov had so much appreciation for every aspect of his life. Each and every article he possessed was a special gift from G-d. Yes, even those pachim k'tanim. They were so valuable to him, that he risked his very life to protect them.
The midrash teaches that Eisav stole the begadim chamudim, precious clothing of Adam Harishon from Nimrod. A person only steals when he feels he's lacking something. 
The fight that took place between Yaakov and the angel of Eisav, wasnt just a  physical boxing match. There'd be no point; no one was watching. It was a deeper,  spiritual, philosophical war. Eisav, who felt incomplete, who always desired more, who needed to fill his void through thievery was trying to beat the sameach b'chelko out of Yaakov.
And Eisav was too chicken to do it himself. He came to create a Peace Process by going to meet Yaakov, and he inappropriately brought along 400 people to this long awaited family reunion... And even with that whole army, with more weapons than any dentist, he knew he could NEVER win a man who's sameach b'chelko. So, he sent his angel, who's name not coincidentally happens to be S-imael, which means to blind. Metaphorically, he was trying to blind Yaakov from seeing and appreciating all the good that he has.
Well, needless to say, Yaakov was victorious (yeah!) and immediately after, his name was changed to YISROEL. Hence, YISROEL BETACH B'HASHEM. He sure proved it.
 Peace Processes never seem to work out.
Let's take out just 60 seconds each day to find and appreciate one little thing in our lives and say out loud "Thank you Hashem for_________", and maybe we'll all live up to yisroel betach b'Hashem, and we'll never be able to suffer the agony of defeat.
"We don't know what we have until we lose it, but we also don't know what we're missing until it arrives".