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Vayeitzei: A Wellspring of Spiritual Blessing

מלא שבוע זאת וגו'

“Fill up this week…” (Bereishis 29:27)

When Yakov demanded, after his marriage to Leah, that Lavan should give him Rachel as a wife as promised, Lavan replied that first the nuptial-week should pass and then he would give Rachel to Yakov.

Why does the verse use the word malei – fill up, instead of saying simply: After this week?

This verse hints at the power of Shabbos. Shabbos is so full of spiritual energy that it can be compared to a gushing fountain that spurts forth an endless amount of water. The holiness of Shabbos cannot be depleted, even if we would take out of it as much as possible.

We can compare it to a king who invited his subjects to a feast. When the people arrived at the royal banquet, they were surprised to see a vast selection of expensive wines and exotic fruit juices. The people tentatively took some of the wine and juice in their glasses. Since they knew that these drinks were extremely expensive, they poured them sparingly. When the king saw this, he urged them to fill up their glasses. “Drink, my people!” he said. “I have plenty of these drinks. No matter how much you take, there will always be enough.”

This is what the verse is telling us. The word shavua – week, is like the word sheva – seven, which stands for Shabbos. Hashem is urging us: “Fill up with the sanctity of Shabbos! No matter how much you take from it, you will never deplete this source of holiness.”

This can also be the hidden message of the verse: “And Yakov went out of Be’er Sheva and he went to Charan.” Be’er means a well, and sheva means seven, which symbolizes Shabbos. Charan can mean harshness. When Yakov left, he took along the wellspring of Shabbos so that all harshness disappeared. He was so full of the holiness of Shabbos that there was no room for anything negative in him.

In the Shabbos prayers we say: “Rejoice in Your kingdom, those who… call [Shabbos] a pleasure. Your holy nation will be sated and will take pleasure in Your goodness.” It is interesting to note that the first letters of the Hebrew words in these verses spell the name Yakov twice. Yakov drew strength from Shabbos during his wanderings.


“And Yakov left Be’er Sheva…”

The Midrash comments by quoting the verse in Tehillim: “I lift my eyes to the mountains; from where will come my help? My help will come from Hashem, Creator of heaven and earth!”

The Midrash reads the word harim – mountains, as horim – parents. Thus the verse reads: “I lift my eyes to my parents.” Yakov looked up to his parents’ actions and tried to learn from what they did. When Avrohom sent Eliezer to find a wife for Yitzchak, he sent him along with jewelry and gifts for the would-be bride and her family. Yakov realized that he had nothing to give his future bride, and this saddened him greatly. But then he chastised himself: “Why am I downcast? My help comes from Hashem, Creator of heaven and earth!”

How indeed could it be that Yakov, the chosen one of the Avos, lost his morale for even a moment and worried that his shidduch depended on how much money or gifts he had?

When Yitzchak sent Yakov to Charan, he did not leave immediately. Yakov first learned in Yeshiva for fourteen years and only then left for Charan. Why didn’t Yakov go to Charan immediately, as his father told him?

We can understand this with the following insight:

The holy Avos are called “the chariot of Hashem.” What does this mean? The rider’s chariot follows the rider wherever it is taken and cannot go anywhere on its own. So too, the holy Avos were so perfectly righteous that their limbs performed mitzvos and did Hashem’s will on their own. They were simply unable to do anything against Hashem’s will.

When Yitzchak told Yakov to go to Charan and find himself a wife, Yakov indeed left with the intention of going to Charan (Rashi). However, his heart and limbs pulled him to the Yeshiva to learn. Yakov searched his heart and asked himself: “Why do I want to go the Yeshiva instead of going to Charan? Could it be because I am afraid of arriving there empty-handed? If that’s the case, then I must strengthen myself in emunah and bitachon and remember that I am dependent on Hashem alone.”

In other words, Yakov never doubted Hashem even for a moment or worried about his financial state. He was merely searching his heart to understand the true reason why he wanted to go to Yeshiva. After he asked himself this question honestly, he concluded that he wanted to go to Yeshiva in order to learn, and not because of any fears or insecurities. That is when he realized that this was indeed the will of Hashem and he went to Yeshiva for several years.

Later, when Yakov finally set out for Charan, the verse says: “And Yakov lifted his feet.” Rashi comments that he found it easy to go. His heart and limbs, the faithful chariot that always did Hashem’s will, now pulled him towards Charan and his destined wives, because this was truly Hashem’s will at that time.


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