Friday, December 04, 2009

Parshat Vayishlach - פרשת וישלח

" וַיִּוָּתֵר יַעֲקֹב, לְבַדּוֹ; וַיֵּאָבֵק אִישׁ עִמּוֹ, עַד עֲלוֹת הַשָּׁחַר - And Ya'akov was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day."

These words are the basis form the basis for the famous commentary by Rashi that the reason why Ya'akov was left alone at this time was because he returned to the other side of the Jordan river to retrieve some "פכים קטנים - small jugs" that had accidentally been left behind.

One of the traditional lessons we learn from this episode is that we must always appreciate what we have; even though Ya'akov had crossed a river with his family and almost all their possesions, he took the time to go back to collect some relatively inexpensive items because he refused to let things go to waste. Quoting Chazal, Rashi adds that this appreciation was borne of Ya'akov's honesty - one who is honest and works hard for what he has develops a sensitivity to looking after what he has, whereas someone less honest is less likely to care for his belongings.

While this is very much true, I would like to mention what the Yalkut Re'uveini and the Maharsha have to say on this episode. They claim that the jugs retrieved by Ya'akov went on to be used later on in the Tanach; apparently years later, when Shaul was appointed king by Shmuel, oil from one of these jugs.

Even more incredibly, the Midrash of the Yalkut Re'uveini and the Maharsha posits that Ya'akov's urge to collect his forgotten possessions had huge ramifications for the Chanukah story. Then, after the destruction of the Second Beit Hamikdash the Maccabees searched high and low for some oil to relight the Menorah with, and eventually found one solitary jug. This jug, so the Midrash says, is one of those that Ya'akov originally felt so compelled to go back for. (With Chanukah just around the corner, it's amazing to stop and consider that Parshat Vayishlach is always in close proximity to the festival of lights; and that each year we relate this incident close to the time we celebrate the eventual finding of this jug of oil.)

A friend of mine once taught me something by R' Nachman of Uman; all that we have in this world is given to us for a reason. As long as we have something, we have it so that we may use it for becoming closer to God. Whether Ya'akov Avinu knew precisely why he had to go back for the jugs is something I do not know, but we may learn from his behaviour the imperative to treat our possesions with care and consideration

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom!

For the refuah shelaimah u'mehirah of Rut Nechamah Bat Revital

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