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Weekly Chizuk

Vayeitzei

My Help Is Only from Hashem

Ya'akov departed from Be'er Sheva and went toward Charan. (Bereishis 28:10)

I will lift my eyes unto the mountains, from whence my help will come" [Tehillim 121:1]. Ya'akov said to himself, "When Eliezer, Avraham's servant, went to get Rivkah, he took 'ten camels,' etc. with him, and I don't have even one necklace or bracelet [as a dowry]!" He then admonished himself: "What am I doing?! Shall I abandon hope in my Creator? My help shall come from Hashem, Who made the heavens and the earth." (Bereishis Rabbah 68:2)

From my sefer, Trust Me!

Excerpted from the Beis Ha-Levi Al Ha-Torah.

The Midrash interprets the word "my help" as applying to marriage. Hence, Ya'akov was saying, "Regardless of my financial situation, I don't have to worry, because my wife shall be provided by Hashem, Creator of Heaven and Earth."

This Midrash teaches us about Ya'akov's tremendous bitachon. Even when a person trusts that the Almighty will help him, there is a natural tendency to consider the various possibilities that He might employ to bring about the desired end. It is obvious that something needs to happen in order for any goal to be realized. Thus, when a person desperately needs money, he attempts to figure out how the Almighty will send it to him. Will a fortune suddenly come his way, or an inheritance? Or perhaps he will be presented with a good business deal? Maybe a check will unexpectedly arrive in the mail from his uncle? How will it happen?! Such musings would not appear to indicate a lack of bitachon, for in any event the person knows that he alone has no way of realizing the goal and he must rely totally on Hashem.

Initially, Ya'akov Avinu also engaged in such calculations. "Eliezer, my grandfather's servant, had untold riches with which to attract a prospective bride for my father, while I have nothing. How will the Almighty orchestrate things for me?"

However, on consideration, he dismissed this line of thought, thinking, "Isn't this a lack of bitachon? Why should I limit my trust to believing that Hashem will employ natural cause and effect to bring me my wife? My help is from Hashem alone, and He can even send my "helpmate" without any cause at all!"

The Proposition

R. Shalom Schwadron in She'al Avicha v'Yagedcha, vol. 1, p. 200.

A man once complained bitterly to the Lelover Rebbe about the problems he was having in making ends meet. His family was suffering terribly, and he had come to ask the Rebbe whether he should leave Europe and go to America (the goldene medina, where the streets were said to be lined with gold, but where Torah observance was shaky, at best).

The Rebbe replied, "Let me tell you a story, and you'll understand the answer to your question on your own."

In a little shtetl there lived a Rav who was widely respected as a great Torah scholar. However, though he may have been rich in wisdom, he was financially impoverished, living from hand to mouth. Moreover, he had a growing mountain of debts and there was no relief in sight. His village was quite small and there were very few Jews there, all of them as poor as he was. What kind of salary could they pay him?

One day, two men came to see this Rav. They were wealthy Jews from a nearby city, and they wanted him to arbitrate a lawsuit between them. They explained that at the moment they weren't prepared for the actual din Torah, and they proposed that the Rav come with them to hear the case in their city. Of course, they would remunerate him for all his efforts. They even mentioned an amount, a handsome sum that would go a long way toward easing his financial burden.

The Rav listened to their proposal and replied, "Please wait here for a little while. I have to go into the next room and daven Minchah. Afterwards I'll let you know my decision."

When the Rav returned, he apologetically informed his visitors that he wouldn't be able to travel with them. The two men were dumbfounded. How could the Rav pass up such an offer? They tried to convince him to change his mind, but he remained firm in his decision.

After they left, the Rebbetzin, who had been listening to the entire conversation from the kitchen, rushed into the room where the Rav was and burst into tears. "How could you have done such a thing?!" she cried. "They presented you with a golden opportunity, and you refused it." She added almost as an afterthought, "And why did you daven Minchah before replying? What was that all about?"

The Rav answered her, "When they first made their proposal, I didn't know whether to accept it or not. On the one hand, we need the money desperately. On the other hand, it would mean a lot of time in traveling and remaining in their city for the interim, and I wasn't sure whether it was worth all the precious Torah study I would forfeit as a result. So I went to daven, hoping that in the meantime I'd figure out what to do. While praying I reached the blessing: 'Bless for us... this year... for the good.' And I started thinking, what does it mean to ask Hashem to bless the year? This blessing implies that the Almighty showers us with His bounty and bestows all manner of goodness upon us. Where does all this blessing come from? From His holy throne straight down to us in this world. This is a distance of uncountable miles. The Gemara states that the distance from the earth to the first firmament is equivalent to a journey of five hundred years, and the width of the first firmament is the same. From there to the second firmament takes another five hundred years, and so on (Pesachim 94b). The Almighty sends His bounty from such a distant place, but to Him it is nothing.

"I said to myself, seeing that Hashem sends His blessing from so far away, must it only go to the big city where those rich people live? If He's sending it from such a great distance, then the little further it will have to go to come straight to my home surely doesn't make any difference. Therefore, I decided not to go. If Hashem wants to provide me with money, He'll send it straight to my house."

In the end, this is exactly what happened. The two men returned, the din Torah was arbitrated in the Rav's house, and the Rav was paid the sum of money they had originally offered.

This was the answer given by the Lelover Rebbe to the poor Jew who asked if he should travel to America to seek a more viable livelihood.

R. Moshe Feinstein summed up the difference between a person who has a lot of bitachon and one who has little, as follows: One who has just a little bitachon makes all sorts of calculations and preparations to lay the groundwork for Heavenly assistance. However, one who is strong in his bitachon makes no such efforts, trusting that Hashem will bring whatever he needs at the proper time. (Ha-Otzar Ha-Amiti, by R. Michoel Holton)

Gut Shabbos!

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Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
4 Panim Meirot, Jerusalem 94423 Israel
Tel: 732-325-1257
Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop Lakewood).
If you would like to correspond with Rabbi Parkoff, or change your subscription, please contact: rabbi.e.parkoff@gmail.com


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