Be’Ohel Hanevi’im: Shabbos Vayeitzei

(Friday, November 23rd, 2012)

This week’s Haftorah is from Hoshea. The reason it was selected for our Parsha is fairly obvious: it mentions briefly that Yaakov ran away from Eretz-Kna’an to Aram, and that Yaakov worked as a shepherd for two extended periods in order to be allowed to marry his wives.

While the two Pessukim involved recapitulate a good part of our Sedra, what they have to do with the remainder of the Haftorah remains somewhat unclear. The rest of the Haftorah deals mostly with the sins of Malchus Yisroel. Secondly, it is interesting to note the emphasis the Pessukim place on Yaakov Avinu shepherding to ‘earn’ his wives.

In today’s society we have all sorts of preconceived notions regarding Shiduchim. People often won’t accept someone who doesn’t come from a background of stature. In leadership also we have similar notions that a leader must start off from an already impressive position prior to obtaining leadership. We cannot picture that someone who is now cleaning the sewers will tomorrow be our leader. Yaakov Avinu defied these two assumptions. Yaakov Avinu was a fugitive running from his older brother who wished to kill him. Yaakov Avinu had to all appearances nothing to offer as a husband, and therefore had no choice but to labor until he would ‘earn’ his wife, and then (having been tricked through Lavan’s deceptive substitution of one sister for the other) again work for the wife he had wanted from the start. Yaakov Avinu started off almost literally from nothing.

During the time of the Beis Hamikdash Klal-Yisroel was a powerful nation. We were in a position of world leadership; we were a significant power. Came the Galus and we were chased away by Bnei Eisav, and have to this day not completely come back home. We certainly have not regained our power, and threats always loom over us. Hoshea relays to us in his Nevuos that we will ultimately be exiled and that there will then also be a final redemption.

The contrast the Navi is developing is now obvious. The Navi is telling us that Klal-Yisroel had started to take their greatness for granted. Klal-Yisroel had started to believe that they had accomplished and deserved everything they had. This pompous and arrogant approach to life is what brings ruin to a Jew. The Navi reminds us where we come from and what truly made us great. The Navi reminds us that Yaakov only became Yaakov Avinu because he was humble, because Hashem helped him to persevere beyond all odds, and because Hashem exalted him.

Perhaps this is the answer to all those that are disappointed that the job in wasn’t finished and a cease-fire was reached with Hamas. If we recognize our limits and don’t rely on our strengths, Hashem will give us the strength to ultimately triumph. May we very soon see the promised day of the final cease-fire when only good will triumph.

A very warm Good Shabbos, Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski

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