Parshat Vayeitzei 5777: Mitzvot as Actions, and a Paradigm of the Lengths Travelled to Perform Them

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Vayeitzei is being sponsored by Danny and Amy Michaels and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh Lilui Nishmas Danny’s father’s yartzheit – Reb Avraham Pinchas ben Yoel Meir. To the Michaels family, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Vayeitzei 5777: Mitzvot as Actions, and a Paradigm of the Lengths Travelled to Perform Them

by Moshe Burt

We learn near the end of Parshat Toldos, that both Yitzchak and Rivka counselled Ya’akov, in leaving and taking flight from the wrath of Eisev, to travel to Padan Aram, to the house of Rivka’s family — to her Father Betu’el, to her brother Lavan, and there to take a wife — a daughter of Lavan.

Medrash indicates (“The Midrash Says” on Sefer Breish’t, by Rabbi Moshe Weissman, page 273) that Eisev sent his son, Elifaz to kill Ya’akov.

Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz, in his sefer “Majesty of Man,” explains and cites both Rabbeinu Tam and Rabbeinu Elyakim (Sefer “Majesty of Man,” pages 82-83):

…When Elifaz caught up with him,he couldn’t bring himself to commit murder since he had grown up under the positive influence of his grandfather, Yitzchak. Elifaz asked Yaakov if there was any way he could fulfill his father’s command. Yaakov advised Elifaz to take away all of Yaakov’s money, which in some small way, rendered Yaakov “dead” since he could not support himself or properly help others.

Rabbeinu Tam asked: Why did Elifaz bother to ask Ya’akov.’s advice if a son is exempt from obeying his father… when it violates Torah law? Rabbeinu Elyakim answered that he wanted to find some way to comply with his father’s wishes while still following Torah. (Baalei Tosafos 29:11).

Elifaz’s actions demonstrate a remarkable level of appreciation for the value of a mitzvah…. Such was his love of the mitzvah of honoring his parents.

Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, in the “New Hirsch Chumash”, on the other hand, notes in a commentary on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 27, posuk 42 (page 592-593):

…Ya’akov emerges disadvantaged in every way…. Ya’akov leaves poor and empty-handed, and to establish a family he must hire himself out as a servant.

R’ Leibowitz continues:

Even more astonishing is the towering personality of Yaakov Avinu, who willingly gave away his last penny to enable another person to perform some small facet of a mitzvah, in spite of the fact that the original “mitzvah” entailed his [Yaakov’s] murder… This is the same Yaakov who appreciated the value of his G’d-given possessions so greatly that he endangered himself to protect even small jars that he owned, even though he was, by that time, a wealthy man. (Rashi, Breish’t perek 32, posuk 25).

Do we have the same love for every mitzvah? While we may never reach the level of Yaakov, Torah teaches us about him so that we may set our goals to strive in that direction and not be complacent with our performance of mitzvot. Even when the total fulfillment of a mitzvah is beyond us, we are still expected to do our best.

This author therefore reasons, our every action can be a mitzvah, whether or not it is actually expressed in “so many words” within the Big-613. We learn the parameters of tefillot within halacha, and yet many, like the shaliach tzibbor at the kehillah where this author davened during a recent trip to Florida, or the shaliach tzibbor for Mincha at the airport, davened faster than an Arnoldis Chapman or Ken Giles 100-plus mph fastball, including Aleinu, with the Shaliach Tzibbor davening at a decibel level barely audible.

R’ Leibowitz has given us valuable insight into the thought processes and kavanah (intent) of Yaakov Avinu. These insights serve as a powerful paradigm for how we take on every mitzvah, including tefillah as well as the respect that we show for the sources of our tefillot, the siddurim and the level of respect with which they are taken off of their respective book shelves and replaced on those shelves after davening, as well as the respect shown for physical facility of the Beit Hamikdash Ma’at – ALL rooms of one’s shul.

Hopefully, we can all strive to reach high in efforts to approach the paradigms of both Yaakov Avinu and Elifaz.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of over two years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

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