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Parashat Vayetze

Dedicated to all those who lost their lives Al Kiddush Hashem, to the wounded, kidnapped, and to the chayalim on the front line,

by Jack Rahmey.

Parashat Vayetze

Protect Your Head

After Yaakov received the bechora from Yitzchak, his brother Esav wanted to kill him. So Rivkah told Yaakov to run away to her brother Lavan in Charan until Esav calmed down. Parashat Vayetze begins with Yaakov traveling to Charan. Yaakov stopped to sleep at the site of what would become the Bet Hamikdash. Before he lay down, Yaakov placed twelve stones around his head to protect himself from wild animals. The midrash asks, how is putting twelve stones around his head going to protect him from wild animals?

One explanation is that Yaakov had to make a minimum hishtadlut—effort to protect himself from the animals, and not rely on a miracle. Chazal also answered that Yaakov’s journey and makeshift barrier symbolized a challenge B’nei Yisrael have in galut—exile. Jews must try to protect their minds from the wicked influence of society. We must know that we as a people are kedoshim—holy. The word kadosh also implies the separation of the Jewish people from the corrupt forces that surround them.

Stop Crying

When Yaakov reached Lavan’s home, the first person to greet him was Rachel. He made a deal with her father Lavan to work for seven years to marry her. Yaakov was warned about Lavan’s nature, and that he would probably try to trick him into marrying his older daughter Leah first. So, Yaakov gave Rachel special signs for the wedding night, to protect him from Lavan’s bait and switch.

When the night of the wedding arrived, Rachel felt sorry for her sister Leah, who would be destined for Esav, so she gave her the signs. Rachel was willing to sacrifice her love for Yaakov and her place as one of the mothers of Klal Yisrael, to protect her sister from a life of sadness.

About 1,000 years later, when Hashem wanted to destroy B’nei Yisrael along with the Bet Hamikdash, it’s said that all the avot went to Hashem crying and begging for mercy for the Jewish people. Their prayers were not answered. But when Rachel came to Hashem and cried, He told her, “Stop crying,” and answered her request. The reason for this was because when Rachel saw Leah’s tears when she realized she was supposed to marry Esav, she told Leah “Stop crying,” because she couldn’t bear her sister’s grief. She gave her the signs immediately and sacrificed her well-being, and therefore, Hashem did the same for Rachel.

Rachel’s Ultimate Chessed

Later on, Leah had four sons and Rachel was still childless. In perek 30 passuk 14, a strange dialogue occurred. “Reuven went out in the days of the wheat harvest; he found duda’im in the field and brought them to Leah his mother. And Rachel said to Leah, ‘Please give me some of your son’s duda’im.’” Rachel was very unhappy that she didn’t have any children, and she wanted some of the duda’im for fertility purposes. But Leah replied, “Was you taking my husband insignificant? And now to take even my son’s duda’im!”

How could Leah be so ungrateful and insensitive to accuse Rachel, saying, “You took my husband, and now you also want my son’s duda’im?” Leah is the one who took Rachel’s husband! For us to understand how Leah could say this to her sister Rachel, we must first realize the magnitude of the chessed that Rachel did for Leah. Rachel could have very easily made it a practice to remind Leah of the favor that she had done for her daily, but she didn’t. Because Rachel was so discreet in her generosity and kindness, Leah did not know that she was indebted to her. Not only had Rachel given Leah her husband, but she also never even told her what she had done! It is written in Shulchan Aruch that the highest form of chessed is helping someone anonymously, without bringing any attention. This is what Rachel Imenu did for her sister Leah.

Rabbi Mansour also cites Mashechet Pesachim (8A), which teaches that if a person says, “I will give this coin to charity so that my son will live,” he is a tzaddik gamur – an exceptionally righteous person. Shouldn’t someone who gives charity with an ulterior motive be less righteous? The commentaries explain that this is someone who gives charity and wants to ensure that the recipient will not feel any shame in accepting his donation. He, therefore, tells the pauper that he – the donor – benefits from this charitable donation, because he has a sick child who may be cured in the merit of this mitzvah.

Fortunate is the one who acts intelligently towards the poor person (Tehillim 41:2).” One who wishes to give charity intelligently will make sure the recipient will feel as though he is the giver. There is a story about a man who purchased stacks of wood and placed them on his porch in front of his house. When he would meet a poor person, he would hire him to move the wood for him to the back of the house. When he would then upon another person in need, he would hire him to move the stacks back to the porch. In this way, he provided financial assistance to those who so desperately needed it, while preserving their dignity by having them feel that they earned the money, rather than receiving a handout.

Jack Rahmey’s Israel Trip

B’H, this week, I was fortunate enough to go on a trip along with Rabbi Ozeri and Rabbi Sutton, among others, to show our support to our G-d given homeland in Israel and it’s an experience we will never forget. Saturday night we visited 6 Gedolim in Jerusalem so we could receive but also give chizuk.

Monday morning, we prayed vatikin at the Kotel, and after breakfast, we headed to the soldiers' memorial. After that, we went to a pop-up warehouse that Shai Graucher set up to bring merchandise for the displaced victims of the war. Then we went to a lunch with the soldiers before we headed to Sheba Hospital to visit the injured soldiers and civilians of this senseless attack. From there we went to a barbecue for the soldiers up north and then to Meron to pray at the kever of Rav Shimon bar Yochai. We then stopped by the home of a soldier’s family who died while protecting our homeland. Lastly, we ended off at a concert for the soldiers with Koby Peretz before leaving for the Waldorf.

Tuesday morning didn’t look much different in terms of time spent out. After praying at the Kotel, we headed south to the Gaza kibbutz by the border which was totally decimated. We met with soldiers who knew what happened firsthand and were there to fight off the terrorists. We saw the burnt dwellings of the victims who thought they were just waking up to a Shabbat/Simchat Torah morning. The devastation there was unbearable. We also spoke to a Zaka volunteer who explained in detail what he had to do to clean up and purify the aftereffects of this massacre.

We left there to go to the Air Force base nearby to learn some history and watched jets take off, followed by another barbecue lunch. Then we headed back north to the Kotel and attended the lighting of 1500 memorial candles for the victims of the massacre. Lastly to the Entracote restaurant for dinner with the families of the hostages where we sang with the band for hours.

Wednesday, after vatikin at the Kotel and breakfast at the Waldorf, we headed back to a Yeshivah overlooking the Kotel to help avrechim there. Then we headed down south to Sderot to see the destruction and there was much of that. Then we went to the Chabad house where they turned it into a meal packing facility of food for people from town to pick up. We saw the bombed police station and the iron dome. Then we headed down to Bnei Brak to see many gedolim.

This was a lot to handle both physically and, more importantly, emotionally.

The Power of Prayer

Rabbi Rosenblum was speaking to one of his students, an Israeli commander, who told the following story.

“I entered the command center late at night. There were large screens displaying the view from various drones, flying above, showing the situation on the ground. There were a few of them flying, and you could see all the soldiers and their activities. I walked into the command room, where the mood was clearly stressed and urgent. I saw all the commanders with their hands on their heads, upset, and I asked, “What happened!!” They pointed to the screens, “Come and see for yourself.”

There I saw three tanks engulfed in flames, ablaze, on the screen.

I recognized them as a fleet of vehicles called “Namers.” They’re used to safely transport soldiers in combat. On the screens were three Namer tanks burning. Each of these vehicles carries 12 soldiers. They ferry troops in combat zones, often the targets of anti-tank bomb threats. The commanders were watching as three Namers, all on fire, had been hit by anti-tank missiles, which meant there were 12 casualties inside each one of those tanks. I sat, stunned, realizing that there were 36 casualties inside those tanks. This incident resulted in more IDF casualties than from the very start of the war.

Look what happened in one evening, in just 5 short minutes. Everyone sat in shock, terrified and morose. Suddenly one of the soldiers from the Namer team radioed into the center, asking, “Can anyone hear me?” I answered, “Affirmative, we hear you. Where are you??”

The soldier said, “One of the tracks on our tank wouldn’t rotate and we couldn’t move. We got stuck, and knowing we were sitting target and that they would start shooting at us any minute, I opened the door and ordered everyone to flee. So the first 12 soldiers escaped. And then seeing us leave, the soldier in the tank behind us decided to follow us because they thought something was wrong. And shortly after, the soldiers in the third tank also ran and followed. A few minutes later, the terrorists fired at the tanks, but all of them were empty! Three vehicles were destroyed, and not one soldier was harmed!!”

The commander gave credit to all the Jewish people around the world, praying at all hours for the people of Israel. Rabbi Rosenblum finished his speech by saying we must always know that our prayers are effective. We must persist in prayer and never abandon it, not even for a single moment.

May we all protect our heads like Yaakov, and be able to stay separate from the corruption in the world in these trying times. May we go through life intending to help our friends in need, but carefully and discreetly, to avoid any embarrassment to them, like Rachel Imenu. May we also be sensitive and reach out to another Jew in need, even though we don’t know them, because we all come from the same family. K’ish echad b’lev echad.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Amram Sananes, written by Jack Rahmey

Discussion Point:

· Do we know of anybody who did a big chessed without the recipient knowing who helped them, or even that they were helped at all?

Etz Haim

Shining Light on the Parasha

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Eichlers, Mekor Judaica, and Tehilat Yitzchak in Brooklyn.


Le’ilui Nishmat…

Eliyahu Ben Rachel

Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher

Avraham Ben Garaz

Sarah Bat Chanah

Esther Bat Sarah

Avraham Ben Mazal

Shulamit Bat Helaina

Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana

Rahamim Ben Mazal

Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther

Rafael Ben Miriam

Ovadia Ben Esther

Rav Haim Ben Rivka

Moshe Ben Mazal

Moshe Ben Yael

Yitzchak Ben Adele

Avraham Ben Mazal

Meir Ben Latifa

Chanah Bat Esther

Yaakov Ben Rachel

Malka Bat Garaz

Moshe Ben Garaz

Avraham Ben Kami

Yaakov Ben Leah

Mordechai Ben Rachel

Chacham Shaul Rachamim Ben Mazal

Natan Ben Rachel

Saadia Ben Miriam

Eliyah Ben Latifa Simhon

Margalit Bat Mazal

Ovadia Haim Ben Malaky

Rabbi Aharon Chaim Ben Ruchama

Yehoshua Ben Batsheva

Luratte Bat Masouda

Esther Bat Menucha

Uri Ben Rahel

Rivka Bat Dona

Anyone interested in Dedicating this Divre Torah Le'ilui Nishmat or Refuah Shelemah or In Honor of someone, can email me at Checks can be made out to “A Life of Torah” for $101 and mailed to Jack Rahmey at 2387 Ocean Avenue Suite #1G, Brooklyn, NY 11229(please put in the memo “Divre Torah”)

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