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Devar Torah - Vayetzei

Thursday, 26 November, 2020 - 7:26 pm

By Being a Living Example we Bring the Geula

By Rabbi Shimon Raichik

The Rebbe spoke many times and required each one of us to get out of our galus mentality by thinking about and envisioning the geula. We see this most clearly in the Sichos of 5751 and 5752 but it is there throughout all the years and it is what we accomplish by learning Chassidus in general. The entire Toras HaChassidus is a revelation of the Moshiach. Chassidus enables us to see things beyond how they look on the surface. They lift us up beyond our common perceptions and clarify our special purpose. 

Part and parcel of a galus mentality is a preoccupation with the immediate problems we face and a sense that they will always be there. In times gone by our immediate concerns were with pleasing the poretz, paying off ransoms and high taxes and fighting off starvation.

Reb Yakov David the father of Rav Menachem and grandfather of Rav Shimon of Amshinov once said on an Erev Yom Kippur that it's time for us to stop asking for patches, that we need to ask for a new garment. What does that mean? In the galus we are asking for protection from the poretz, the government, the pogroms, from war and famine etc. Nowadays we seek the relief of a vaccine for covid-19 and that the elections should turn out well for the Jewish people, for Israel and for this country. It's all patchwork.

Certainly we should all ask for everything we need but our greater focus should transcend the immediate and be raised toward a focus on preparing for and bringing the geula. We should yearn to be lifted out of a patchwork galus mentality. We do this by learning Chassidus in general and Inyanei Geula and Moshiach in particular. This is the new garment. 

The Rebbe said many times you can daven for pearls for a necklace or for pearl barley for soup. Instead of asking for barley for soup why not ask for pearls around your neck. Seek the geula, not only momentary relief from a passing difficulty.

We see this theme throughout the Rebbe’s Sichos and Mamarim. The Rebbe’s focus was to get our mind out of the galus by focusing on the geula. We should learn these inyanim in Chassidus to the point that our entire mindset should shift from galus to the geula.

It is our first nature to feel that everything about ourselves is a primary necessity. For example cell phones that are used 24/6. We can't live without a cell phone. Many of us lived our entire lives growing up through adulthood without a cell phone and we survived. This trend has accelerated with smartphones. Why does a teenager need a smartphone? A regular cell phone will work to stay in touch or take care of essentials. Why do our children so desperately need smartphones? Is it because the neighbor has one or is it the latest thing? Is it because they need to send and read messages all day on Twitter and Facebook.? Perhaps it's so they can watch Tik-Tok or stream movies? From the perspective of educating our children, giving our children smartphones is tantamount to sending a 5 year old child to school with a knife telling him only to use it for cutting vegetables. It's not wise!

Some say that they don't like it but they put on filters. That's only a patch. Why do our institutions give them back to the children at lunch time? What's the message we're sending our children?

In this week's parsha Yaakov Avinu left Eretz Yisroel to go to Charan. He was the only Jew there. He got married to the daughters of the biggest politician, liar and cheat of his time. It was in this situation that he created and raised an amazing Jewish family, perhaps the greatest Jewish family of all time. Certainly his children may have come home asking to do whatever they saw the neighbors doing. How did Yaakov Avinu exist and thrive in this corrupt environment and educate his children in a sea of bad influence not just outside but within his extended family? His children’s grandfather and uncles were all corrupt. How did his children turn out to be so good?

The Rebbe explains a Medrash that says that Yaakov Avinu would recite the 15 Shir HaMaalos on an ongoing basis while in Charan. The Rebbe explained that these 15 Shir HaMaalos correspond to the 15 years that Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov we're all together in this world. Avraham represents chesed-kindness, Yitzchok represents yirah- fear and awe and Yaakov represents rachamim-compassion. By reciting the 15 Shir HaMaalos, Yaakov Avinu aroused all of these three attributes and through his connection to his parents and grandparents was protected against Lavan and the ill effects of Charan. This is also the way that he educated his children. He imbued them with a sense of identity of where they came from. Yaakov Avinu educated his children and taught them about the Torah and who their grandparents and their great-grandparents were. He taught them and showed them by example that they were special people with a special purpose and taught them to be proud. He gave them a sense that their life in Charan was only temporary and that they would eventually return to Eretz Yisroel saying “Vshavti bShalom el Beis Avi, that I (we) will return in peace to the house of my (our) father”. Their life was filled with an awareness that they would get out of the Charan and return to Eretz Yisroel. 

It is for this reason he didn't  need filters. In the house of Yaakov Avinu they didn’t live with patches, they lived with a fresh garment. He inspired his children to be strong in their own rite to live their purpose with pride and strength.

The lesson to us today as parents and educators is to uplift our children and connect them to the golden chain. We don't look around at others and act accordingly. We have something special as Jews, Chassidim and especially as Chabad Chassidim.

Just like Yaakov Avinu couldn't rely on his past 14 years of study in the Yeshiva of Shem and Eiver, so too we cannot rely on our past education alone. We can only have a positive influence when we are living by example what we seek to see in our children. We lead by example by sitting down and clearing the schedule to learn Torah in our home. It’s great to go outside the home to learn Torah but we have to also be at home with a sefer. There have to be times when the cell phone is off and the focus is solely on the Torah.

When we take our Friday night and spend time with our children learning our children feel the message and it changes their life and their focus for the good. By making time to learn and be with each of our children with no distractions we are saying strongly to our children how important they are, how great their purpose is and how much they mean to us. We do this when we close our devices and where nothing else is going on and we connect with complete focus and dedication. This is the way of our forefathers, this  leaves an everlasting impression. They won't need a patch because they have a new garment to wear. 

The same applies for their life in the yeshiva. By our educators living by example what they teach they uplift and make our children feel special. The main focus in a yeshiva today is to instill an awareness in the students that wherever they will be they will not falter. This is accomplished by instilling yiras Shomayim, that even when he or she is alone and no one knows what they are doing, they are not alone, “Shevisi Hashem l'negdi, that Hashem is always present”. Their education affects them for life whenever a question arises about what to do, not just in the kitchen etc., that every aspect should be consistent with their identity and purpose as a Jew and Chabad Chosid. 

By living with and yearning for the geula may we merit Moshiach now.

A Good Shabbos 

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