As Yaakov was traveling and returning to his parent’s home, the pasuk tells us that he reached a river. The pasuk (32; 23-24) tells us that first he secured his family; once they were across the water safe and sound he proceeded to transport his belongings. The pasuk continues and says (32: 25) ‘And Yaakov was left alone and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn.’
Rashi asks why was Yaakov left all alone? He answers, that he crossed back over the river to retrieve a few small jars that he had left on the rivers bank. He quotes the gemarah in Chulin (91a), which says ‘to tzaddikim their money is dearer to them than their guf’. It concludes with the reason ‘because they don’t benefit from stealing…everything they have is from hard work.’
There is an apparent question here that is asked by many. How can we possibly explain this gemarah? Is the money of a tzaddik more important to him than his physical body? One would envision quite the contrary! What type of ma’aleh is this-that their money is dearer to them than their guf?
The Meshech Chochma offers a fascinating explanation.
We say in shema that one must love Hashem with all their ‘heart, soul and money’. If a person encounters a nisayon that requires him to give up his life for Hashem, he will dig deep to find the inner strength to be able to give up his life. Imagine experiencing that feeling; ones heart will be bursting with love towards his Creator!
However, by a more frequent mitzvah-such as tefillin, mezuzah, tefilah-one is not performing it with the same enthusiasm that he would be performing it were it to be his last shemona esrei on this world. Once we get accustomed to doing something it becomes second nature to us. When it comes to loving Hashem one has to do so with their whole heart, soul and money; it should be performed as if it was our last minute on this world. The same devotion for Hashem that is demonstrated when one is being moser nefesh has to be demonstrated when performing everyday mitzvos. They should both be performed with the same fervor.
Continues the Meshech Chochma- why was a tzaddik like Yaakov busy with such seemingly small and insignificant possessions? The answer is that when he gave away his money to Hashem (as we see that Yaakov gave ma’aser from his earnings to Hashem) it was very meaningful to him. Imagine a person who spends $500 a day on cigars and is approached by an individual collecting tzedakah and he hands him a $500 check, is that impressive? Yes, it’s a large amount but will he really feel the loss? Not really, since he spends that amount daily on cigars! But if you were to have a second person who penny pinches every nickel and dime, yet when approached by that same individual for tzedakah he hands him a $500 check- THAT, is impressive. There is no doubt that this $500 was extremely meaningful to him as we know how dear his money is to him.
The same is true with Yaakov. He took an ordinary everyday object and transformed it into a davar ruchniyos. He showed how important it was to him by making the extra trip back for the little jars. He wanted that when he gave it to Hashem it would have been like giving up his dearest possession. This is the explanation of the gemarah. Why is their money dearer to them than their bodies? Since they want to show Hashem that what’s dearest to them they will give up for him Him in a heartbeat; professing their ultimate love for the Borei Olam.
We can learn from this, that one must make it his business to take an everyday mitzvah and find a way to do it with more of a feeling towards the Ribono Shel Olam. Making the everyday mitzvos so dear and performing them as if your life is about to be taken will make them so much more special to the receiver: Hashem.
May we be zoche for this to be easy for us and may we do so without any hesitation so that Hashem won’t hesitate any further and grant us the coming of Moshiach speedily, in our days.
HAVE A GREAT SHABBOS.
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