This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Vayeitzei (5770)
This week's Torah portion tells thestory of how Yaakov, the third and final Forefather of Judaism, suffered terrible hardships in order to establish his family and bear twelve sons that would evolve into the twelve tribes of Israel.
At first glance this does not make sense. G-d is the King of the Universe and Yaakov was just trying to do what He wants. Why did he have so much trouble? Why couldn’t G-d just remove all the obstacles and show how easy He can make it for those who serve Him?
To understand this, here is a story (Bais Moshiach #718 pg 56)
When Rabbi Nir Gavriel, the Chabad 'Shilach' (representative of the Lubavitcher Rebbe) in the 'Florentine' area of Tel Aviv, was on his way tothe Synagogueone Thursday just a few years ago, he noticed that he had three unanswered calls on his cellular phone from the same number.
He had a lot to do that day and was just about to turn off his phone and answer the calls after prayers, when it rang again, from the same number.
He answered. The young man on the other end was desperate. He said he got the Rabbi's number from a friend and was now waiting in front of the locked door of the Chabad House for the Rabbi to return; he needed advice immediately.
Rabbi Gavriel dropped his plans and rushed to his Chabad House where he found a young man almost in tears. He introduced himself, unlocked the door, invited him in, told him to sit down and heard a tragic story.
The visitor said that he had just gotten married a few weeks earlier and now his new wife was scheduled to have a serious operation in just a few days. He heard there was a way to consult the Rebbe's Books of Letters and receive advice and comfort. He had already written a letter, and he just needed help consulting the book.
Rabbi Gavriel, without asking questions, took out one of the 25 volumes of the Rebbe's letters (Igrot Kodesh) from his bookcase, inserted the letter and read the page that appeared there. But after reading it a few times he had to admit that it seemingly had no connection whatsoever to the young man's case, so he asked his visitor to explain exactly what had happened.
The young man explained; over a month ago he and the young woman that was now his wife decided to get married. But shortly thereafter she complained about pains in her throat. So she went for a checkup and got the horrifying news that it was a malignant tumor!
The doctors reluctantly agreed that the operation could wait a month until after the wedding but warned that any more than that could be fatal.
So they married, but now the time came for the operation. It was to take place in four days; next Monday.
Rabbi Gavriel gave his best wishes, took the young man's phone number again, gave him a few encouraging words and assured him that he would pray and keep in touch. But when he left, Rabbi Gavriel almost broke into tears. Could it be that the lack of a clear reply of the Rebbe meant….?
'No'! He thought to himself. "The Rebbe will help. He always does!!"
Rabbi Gavriel went to the morning prayers and afterwards made his usual 'rounds'.
His Chabad House was in the middle of some fifty small shops and every morning he visited all of them to see if they needed any 'Jewish' assistance. But this morning he noticed that a new shop opened up that he hadn't seen before. He entered, introduced himself to the middle aged woman who was the owner and asked if he could be of assistance.
The woman smiled and replied that she was happy to see him on her opening day but was already well acquainted with the Rebbe from years ago. And she began to tell her story.
Over twenty years earlier when she was living in New York (like so many other Israelis) she was still single and was having big problems getting married. She was thirty years old and simply could not meet the right man.
Then she met up with a Chabad Chassid who told her to visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Sunday morning when he gave out dollar bills (to encourage the giving of charity) and ask for advice and a blessing.
So the next Sunday morning she went to Crown Heights and waited for several hours in the women's line. But amazingly, when she finally stood before the Rebbe and told her problem he gave her a dollar, told her to give it to someone who needs it, and blessed her with a speedy recovery and good health!
At first she figured that the Rebbe hadn't heard her request; all she wanted was a husband!
So the next Sunday she again stood in line but this time when she wasfinally standing before the Rebbe she made her request in a louder voice.
But to her surprise the same thing happened again; the Rebbe gave her a dollar, told her to give it to someone who needs it, and blessed her with a speedy recovery.
A month later she understood the blessing. She woke one morning with severe pains in her neck. After several months of suffering, hoping it would disappear she went to a doctor who examined her, took samples and diagnosed her condition as a malignant tumor that had to be removed.
A few weeks later she went into the operating room with the Rebbe's dollar as her only hope...but it didn't seem to help! Her heart stopped pumping in the middle of the operation and, although they brought her back to life, they had to stop the operation in the middle and sew her back up with only half the tumor removed. The doctors even told her relatives not to tell her the truth so her last few weeks should be positive ones.
But miraculously when she made her next checkup the malignant tumor turned benign! She was released in totally good health and shortly thereafter she met her husband to be.
All of the Rebbe's blessings came to fruition.
"Wonderful story!" Said Rabbi Gavriel. But tell me, do you still have the dollar the Rebbe gave you?"
When her reply was positive, Rabbi Gavriel told her the story of the young man who visited him a few hours earlier, and begged her to run home, bring the dollar and give it to someone who needs it as the Rebbe requested.
The woman asked Rabbi Gavriel to watch her store while she ran home and within less that a half hour she was back with the dollar. He called the young man who rushed to take the dollar and promised to return it as soon as possible.
The rest was too good to be true. His wife took the dollar with her to the operation and not only was it successful but, upon examination of the removed tumor it mysteriously became benign!
That week there were big celebrations in the Chabad House for the young man and his wife. Just as Rabbi Gavriel thought; the Rebbe didn't let them down.
This explains our question. The essence of Judaism is to transform the confusion and pain of life to meaning and blessing; Namely to reveal the fact that G-d is infinitely good and indescribably close to all of His creations. Just like the Rebbe, through Rabbi Gavriel, did in our stories
And this can only be done when we are 'IN' the world.
That is why Yaakov and the other Patriarchs of Judaism had to have so many difficulties; because it is their job and the ' purpose' of Judaism to transform these difficulties to meaningful experiences.
That is why Avrhaham, Yitzchak and Yaakov are called 'Our Fathers' (Avosainu); because they 'inherited' to us the ability to do the same and transform even the worst situations into G-dly and meaningful ones.
So we have to power and potential. It just depends on us to actually do just one more good deed, say one more good word or even think one more good thought to tilt the scale and bring….
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