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Weekly Chizuk

Parashas Vayeitzei

Hashem Is Watching Over You

Waiting for the Train

It is in my power to harm you; but the G d of your father addressed me last night, saying, "Beware of speaking with Ya'akov either for good or evil." (Bereishis 31:29)

The following is from She'al Avicha v'Yagedcha, by R. Shalom Schwadron, vol. 1, p. 106.

R. Yosef Yozel Hurwitz, the Alter of Novardok, raised the following question: Lavan admitted that Hashem warned him not to speak either "for good or evil" toward Ya'akov, and he thereby confirmed that he couldn't do anything to Ya'akov. If so, how could Lavan say in the same breath, "It is in my power to harm you"? He had just admitted that he couldn't! To answer this question, the Alter related a parable:

A poor Jew was sitting in a train station for a long time when the train finally pulled in. However, when everyone went to board it, this man didn't make a move to get up. Another Jew, who had also been waiting, asked him, "Why don't you get on the train?" The poor man replied, "Because I don't have any money to buy a ticket."

The other fellow stood there for a moment, perplexed. "If you don't have any money, why are you sitting here waiting for the train?" The answer of the pauper was quick in coming: "I have faith that the Almighty will send me a ticket." The other fellow burst out in laughter, shook his head disparagingly, and proceeded to board the train himself.

Abruptly, over the hustle and bustle of the train station, the shrill whistle of the train blew: once, twice, and... the third and final whistle. You could hear the ponderous sound of the engine revving up as the train made ready to depart.

The man who had boarded the train looked out the window and saw that the Jew without a ticket was still expectantly waiting. In an annoyed tone of voice, he called out, "Why are you just sitting there? The train is getting ready to leave! If you don't have a ticket, well,, quickly! Take this money and buy one!" The poor Jew took the proffered money without hesitation and ran to the ticket booth. He managed to jump onto the train just as it was leaving the station.

As he sat down next to his benefactor, the latter turned to him and said disparagingly, "Now just think for a minute and see what a fool you are. How can you rely on your bitachon? Why, if I hadn't given you the money for the ticket you wouldn't be on the train now!"

R. Yosef Yozel concluded, "This is the framework underlying Lavan's imperious statement. Consider well, and you'll understand this marvelous mashal! The Tzoros Are From Hashem

Rav Elimelech Biderman once told the following story: There once was a family that moved to a home near the forest. The father said to his young son, "Don't ever climb over the gate because there are wild animals, and even lions, in the forest." The child didn't listen and he climbed over the gate. The father quickly put on a lion costume and followed his son. He wanted to scare him, so his son wouldn't ever go into the forest again. The child saw the 'lion' approaching, and shouted, "Father! Father! Help me! There's a lion! There's a lion!" The lion came closer, bit the screaming child, and the child ran home crying. "Father, you won't believe what happened to me. I was in the forest, and a lion came and bit me. I called for you, but you didn't come. Where were you?"

"Where was I?" the father said, "I was the lion."

When people are going through hard times, they sometimes ask, why doesn't Hashem save me? Did He forget me? Where is Hashem when I need Him? They forget that Hashem is the one who is creating the hard times. They shouldn't ask "where is Hashem?" because Hashem is the One who did it.

This simple and obvious concept is surprising. We are so aware of Hashem's compassion, that it is hard for us to imagine that the hardships come from Him too. He is our source of salvation, how can we consider Him the cause of the hardships? But the truth is that everything, even hard times, comes from Hashem.

Surely everything that happens is for the good, and Hashem definitely loves us and doesn't want us to suffer. But there are times when we deserve and need castigation, for reasons that He knows. Even at these times, Hashem cares for us and minimizes the punishment to the lowest degree possible. But it is a mistake to ask, "Where is Hashem?" Because who gave us these troubles, if not Hashem?

Reb Michoel Ber Weismandl zt"l, who saved many people from the holocaust, had an idea which would enable him to save thousands more. Unfortunately there were those who thwarted his plans (as is sadly known). Reb Michoel Ber was devastated and he poured out his broken heart to Rebbe Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch (the Maharyatz). The rebbe listened in silence and let Reb Michoel Ber say everything that was on his heart. Then the rebbe said one statement, which Reb Michoel Ber later admitted, changed his entire outlook. The rebbe spoke slowly, pausing between each word, so Reb Michoel Ber would grasp the message fully. The rebbe said, "And… who… did… all… of… this?"

This too was from Hashem. Those people who prevented the salvation were certainly punished, because they had free choice to do better, but the results couldn't have been changed. Ultimately, Hashem decided (for reasons that are beyond our grasp) that what happened, needed to occur - as devastating as it may be.

Yaakov Avinu worked loyally for seven years to marry Rachel, but at the last moment Lavan cheated him, and brought Leah to the chuppah. Yaakov was very upset and said to Lavan, "What did you do to me? I worked for Rachel! Why did you deceive me?" (29:25).

It seems that Yaakov had all the reason in the world to be upset (especially since this deceit resulted in many spiritual tragedies, as the holy sefarim tell us) nevertheless, the Yid HaKadosh of Peshischa says that Yaakov erred when he complained. He should have known that what happened was from Hashem. This doesn't exonerate Lavan in any way. He was certainly punished for his deceitfulness, but we must know that everything that happens is from Hashem.

Wishing Everyone A Gut Shabbos!

© Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
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Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop Lakewood).
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