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Parshas Vayeitze

Rabbi Pesach Siegel

Parshat Vayetze

Oct 21, 2009

 

 

Yaakov Avenu, upon awakening from his dream made a vow. He vowed that if Hashem would be with him, guard him along the way, provide bread and clothing, return him safely to his father's house, and be his G-d ........

Then the monument that he erected to Hashem would be a House of the Lord and he would tithe all that Hashem gives him.

Understandably, Yaakov's promise to build the Bais Hamikdash is contingent on his safe return, but for what reason does it hinge upon his receiving bread and clothing from Hashem? Doesn't every one receive bread and clothing from Hashem?

In addition, Yaakov Avenu isn't promising to "build" the Beis Hamikdash, he affirms that the monument that he erected will "be" a Beis Elokim, automatically. Furthermore, he commits himself to giving "maaser", one tenth of all that Hashem gives him. Is this a separate commitment or perhaps part of a whole picture?

In Parshas Eikev (perek 10, pasuk 18) the Torah tells us of Hashem's love of the righteous convert. "VeOhaiv Ger loses lo lechem vesimla" - He loves the convert to give him bread and clothing.

I once heard from Harav Yonason David shlita (Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Pachad Yitzchok) that Hashem's love for the Ger is not solely represented by the fact that the Ger is the recipient of bread and clothing. A Ger is someone who is truly alone. He has no father, mother, siblings, no support system whatsoever. All beings receive their needs from Hashem, but the support is masked. It is clothed in hard work, a salary, supportive relatives, etc. For one who is truly alone the veil is lifted. He is sharply aware of the source of his sustenance. His support takes a direct route. This is what is meant by the words "loses lo lechem vesimla", Hashem "gives" him bread and clothing. The accent is on the word "gives".

Yaakov Avenu upon embarking on his mission to build the Jewish nation is shown that the spot he slept on is the Bais Elokim. Of all the Avos, Yaakov was the one to call this spot "bayis". (Avrohom called it a mountain, Yitzchak a field). When the Bnei Yisroel stood at the foot of Har Sinai and proclaimed "naase venishma" they were betrothing themselves to Hashem. The giving of the Torah is the wedding ceremony that took place between Hashem and His people. The mishkan which was constructed afterwards is the King's chamber where he lives with his bride.

The level that Yaakov Avenu attained enabled him to father a people that would relate to Hashem as a bride in her groom's home and not just as one who relates to someone in a field or on a mountainside.

Yaakov saw the potential in the "makom hamikdash". When making his vow to Hashem he entreated him to relate to him and his descendants as with the righteous convert, their needs being filled directly by Hashem in an open, one on one relationship, not hidden behind the mask of nature. He prayed, "Venasan li lechem le'echol..," - and He should "give me" bread to eat, "Vehaya Hashem li l'Elokim" - and He should be for "me" a G-d.

This is the concept behind the giving of "maaser". It is the recognition that all the bounty we receive is not due to our own efforts that requires us to separate ten percent of what we produce and give it to the Levi. We are acknowledging that the source of our sustenance is the unique relationship that we merit with our "groom" who provides directly for our needs. The Levi is the representative of Klal Yisroel who dwells permanently in the Bais HaMikdash. This relationship envelops the Levi in its totality. He lives it constantly. Therefore it is fitting that he is the one who is the emissary of Hashem to receive the offer of our recognition of this relationship.

Yaakov was not just referring to actually building the Bais Hamikdash. He was striving for the bond which would bring Klal Yisroel into the embrace of Hashem, into the relationship which is called "Bayis". Then the "Bayis" will automatically be a "Bayis".

When viewing the upcoming years it is clear that Hashem provided for Yaakov in the manner that Yaakov yearned for. Despite all of Lavan's efforts to frustrate Yaakov's ability to sustain himself, Hashem directly intervened and rightfully transferred all of Lavan's accumulated wealth to Yaakov.

When Yaakov was returned safely to his father's home the process was complete, and the bond was forged.

In the merit of our forefathers may Hashem rescue his bride who is waiting for Him for so long. May the pain that we are presently living through be a forerunner of the ultimate redemption.

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