Vertluch: Parshas Vayishlach


When the Malachim returned to Yaakov, they gave him the grim report. Esav was advancing towards Yaakov with a frighteningly large army. He started to worry and daven to Hashem as the pasuk states קטנתי מכל החסדים. Yaakov was worried. He was concerned that he had run out of zechusim due to all the chesed that Hashem had showered upon him up until now. Rashi comments that even though Yaakov had a havtacha from Hashem he thought that he had sinned and therefore may have lost his zechusim, for that reason he was apprehensive.

The Ramban asks that according to Rashi, who gave the reason for Yaakov’s concern, why does Yaakov refer to the previous guarantee from Hashem? The pasuk later on says ואתה אמרת היטב איטב עמך ושמתי את זרעך כחול הים. We see over there that Yaakov referred back to the previous havtacha. If he was nervous that he lost his zechusim, why then was he referring back to the havtacha?

A second question, asks the Ramban, we know that Hashem spoke to Yaakov twice. Once in Beis El (on his way to Lavan) and again in Charan (commanding him to leave the house of Lavan). Each time Hashem gave him a havtacha. The second time Hashem spoke to him was right before he left the house of Lavan where Hashem told him to leave and Yaakov obeyed. There was no time for anything to have transpired. Hashem told him to leave and he spoke to his wives and left. When could he have possibly sinned? There was no time! Secondly, we don’t see any significant chasadim from Hashem that would be worthy of erasing the havtacha. Why was Yaakov so worried?

R’ Avraham Gurwitz Shlit”a (R”Y of Gateshead Yeshiva) quotes a Chovos Halevavos which answers with a tremendous and powerful lesson:

In Sha’ar Avodas Hashem (sixth perek) it says as follows: the chesed and kindness that Hashem gives a person is a gift that comes with responsibilities. With every gift that we receive from Hashem, we are expected to repay him back. How does one go about this? By serving Hashem better and on a higher level. When ehrlicher yidden receive chassadim from Hashem they’re anxious for two reasons: firstly, maybe they are unable to serve Hashem better or on a higher level after they receive such a gift. In other words, failing to reach their potential would cause them to perhaps receive a punishment. The proof is from this weeks parsha from the pasuk of קטנתי מכל החסדים. Secondly, they feel their schar in the next world will become diminished from their schar in this world.

The Chovos Halevavos understood that the fear that encompassed Yaakov wasn’t that since he received such chesed from Hashem subsequently he would lose out from his schar in Olam Haba. Rather, Yaakov was fearful that he didn’t serve Hashem on a higher level after he was the beneficiary of such chasadim. For that reason he was anxious; as Rashi says he thought he may ‘fall into the hands of Esav’.

We see from here how every single yid has to focus and acknowledge the chesed that Hashem sends their way. One must understand that with it come responsibilities. It is up to us to improve our avodas Hashem to show Hakadosh Baruch Hu that we are befitting of his chesed and we appreciate it and be careful, not to chas v’shalom, not live up to our responsibilities.

May we all be zoche to not only see Hashems kindness but to act responsibly once accepted.