Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Parshas Vayetzei

וַיִּיקַץ יַעֲקֹב מִשְּׁנָתוֹ וַיֹּאמֶר אָכֵן יֵשׁ יְקֹוָק בַּמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה וְאָנֹכִי לֹא יָדָעְתִּי:
“Yaakov awoke from his sleep, and said, "In truth, Ad-noy is in this place, and I did not know it."(Sefer Bereishis, 28:16)

The gemara in Chulin (91:) discusses Yaakov’s travels from Beer Sheva to Charan, and details his dream. The gemara says a couple of things about the ladder that we know: it reached to heaven, angels went up and came down, etc etc. One part which isn’t commonly known is the part saying that the Angels went up to heaven and upon returning, they wanted to kill Yaakov. He was only saved because G-d stepped in on his behalf. What did the angels upstairs that they wanted to kill Yaakov?

Rav Hershel Schachter, saying over from R’ Chaim of Volozhin says that up in heaven, one is able to see the true potential of an individual. However, more often than not, this maximal potential isn’t reached. When the angels ascended to heaven, seemingly they saw a completely different side of Yaakov than he was expressing as his true character here on earth. It is for this reason that the angels wanted to kill Yaakov.

Rav Shimon Ostropoli says that this can be seen from the pasuk above. He starts out by explaining the pasuk in Yechezkel that says that each angel sitting around the Kisei haKavod has four faces. One face was that of a Cherub (little child); one was of a regular man; one was of a Nesher/eagle; and one was of an Aryeh (lion). Yaakov Avinu, when he says “Achein yeish Hashem b’makom ha zeh”, he was saying that he knew all long that Achein, Roshei Taivos ALEPH (Aryeh), CHUF (Cherub), NUN (Nesher) had a connection with haKadosh Baruch Hu. But concludes the pasuk, as R’ Shimshon explains, “But Anochi (Roshei Taivos same was Acheim, but with added Yud, symbolizing YAAKOV), I didn’t know”; meaning, he understood what 3 of 4 faces were in Shemayim, but what he failed to understand was that he himself was good enough to be the Adam; good enough to be the 4th face, and have a close relationship with G-d. Essentially, Yaakov was selling himself short; this was the difference in the potential which the angels saw in Shemayim, and the actual self that Yaakov was here on earth.

We can all think of way too many people that we know that sell themselves short. Whether it is because of poor self esteem, or merely out of laziness, I know too many people that have the potential to be amazing Jews, and amazing people, but for whatever reason, they're selling themselves short. The key to maximizing one’s potential is to take advantage of the opportunities that are laying directly in front of us. Too often do we not realize the amazing opportunities we have until after it is too late. Rashi and Ramban tell us that a perfect example of missing an opportunity is with Yaakov, when it says that he traveled from Beer Sheva to Charan, he passed by Yerushalayim, but didn’t stop to daven and take in the inherent holiness of the place where his father and grandfather had prayed. Upon reaching Charan he regretted this decision and turned to go back to Yerushalayim (Rashi implies that G-d brought Yerushalayim to him, in a metaphysical sense, while Ramban holds that he went all the way back). Yaakov Avinu was lucky enough, because of his stature, to be forgiven and to merit the blessings of the dream – we may not be so lucky. We should all be able to see the opportunities in front of us and strive to make the most of them, so that our character here on earth matches that of our potential seen by angels in heaven.


Blogger Neil Harris said...

Just wanted you to know that I read this post when it was first posted and ended up looking at it again tonight. Rav Moshe Weinberger (Cong Aish Kodesh in Woodmere,NY and Mashpia at YU/REITS) quoted the same peice about the Keisai HaKavod in his Shabbos Shuva drasha.

8:05 PM, September 29, 2014


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