Believing the Impossible

וישק יעקב לרחל וישא את קולו ויבך

Then Yaakov kissed Rachel, and he raised his voice and he wept (29:11)

Yaakov had finally reached the moment of clarity. He was now standing in front of the woman that would soon be his wife, and the future matriarch of Klal Yisroel. There must have been many emotions going through Yaakov Avinu’s head at that moment. The Torah reveals to us that upon coming near to her, Yaakov kissed her; and he raised his voice and he wept.

Rashi gives two reasons for Yaakov’s tears. Yaakov foresaw that Rachel would not be buried with him in the Me’aras hamachpeila. Another reason why he was weeping was because of the manner in which he arrived. He thought about how when Eliezer, the servant of Yaakov’s grandfather came, also for shidduch purposes, he was accompanied by ten camels laden with riches. But this time things were different. For his own shidduch, he had arrived completely destitute, literally emptyhanded. The truth was that Yitzchak had given Yaakov money and gifts when he sent him to Charan, but Eisav had ordered his son, Elifaz to ambush Yaakov and kill him. Elifaz chased after Yaakov until he caught him and was ready to kill him, but a product of his grandfather Yitzchak’s home, he was unable to “pull the trigger”. Elifaz asked Yaakov what to do about his father’s command of killing him. Yaakov responded that technically there was a way to be in compliance of his command without actually killing him. The gemara teaches us that ani nechshav k’mais- a poor impoverished person is tantamount to a dead person, so by robbing him of everything that he had, he could fulfill his father’s commandment. Elifaz complied and Yaakov now arrived penniless. (Rashi quoting the Midrash)

The midrash comments that Yaakov recited the possuk (Tehillim 121) אשא עיני אל ההרים מאין יבוא עזרי. עזרי מעם השם עושה שמים וארץI lift up my eyes to the mountains wondering from where my salvation shall come. My salvation shall come from HaShem, the Maker of the heavens and the earth. Upon reciting this possuk, Yaakov Avinu was able to arrive at a peace of mind; he was now secure.

In explanation of this midrash, the word “harim” (mountains) can be read as “horim” (parents). Yaakov Avinu looked up at the previous time this same shidduch scenario was at play. He saw the great wealth that Eliezer had arrived with on behalf of his father. Feeling a great sense of loss, he exclaimed, “my father had this, but I have nothing. From where will I have what it takes to make this shidduch happen? Isn’t this the normal procedure when procuring a shidduch? Why would the girl agree to marry a penniless destitute person?” But then he fortified himself with bitachon in HaShem Yisborach. He now had a plan. HaShem would look after him. עזרי מעם השם עושה שמים וארץ -my salvation shall come from HaShem, the Maker of the heavens and the earth. With perfect faith, Yaakov Avinu was ready to move on.

I have often wondered what connection the heavens and earth have with this story? Surely there were other great “accomplishments” of the Master of the Universe that Yaakov could have thought of as well. Perhaps we can offer the following idea. There is a major difference between man as a creator and the Borei Olam, the Creator of the world. When man builds something, say a Sukkah, he must first run to the nearest Home depot to purchase the tools required for the job. Then he pulls out a full list of necessary materials and makes sure to buy some extra just in case he has underestimated, or messed up on the job. After all of that, he still needs to actually build the Sukkah. With some skill, a few stubs of his thumb and many tefillos, several hours later he hopefully has a sukkah that will withstand the test of time (just seven days). However, it is not so with HaKadosh Boruch Hu. When HaShem “decides” to create something, it is done. No lengthy introductions, and no advance tries. HaShem does not need materials to make it happen. With the “snap of the proverbial “finger”, the job is done. This difference is known as “ayin” and “yeish”, or something and nothing. In order for man to create, he needs to first have “something”, and only then can he continue to the next step. For HaShem, yeish m’ayin- something from nothing also works.

Yaakov Avinu was sad that he had nothing to offer. What would he do now? But then he placed his trust in HaShem. He said that my lack of something doesn’t matter because if HaShem is in charge, HaShem works with yeish m’ayin and even with nothing, the problem will be solved. This is why he mentioned the heavens and the earth, for they had been created in this very manner. Rav Elya Lopian zt”l took this one step further by suggesting that the מאין of the possuk: מאין יבוא עזרי refers to the concept of יש מאין.

Similarly, the possuk in our parsha states, הארץ אשר אתה שכב עליה לך אתננה ולזרעך- the land upon which you are lying, to you I will give it and to your offspring. Rashi comments that Hakadosh Boruch Hu folded the entire Eretz Yisroel beneath him. By this, Hashem was hinting that it would be just as easy to be conquered by his children. This of course is impossible for the human mind to comprehend. How is it possible to fold up such a large piece of land and place it all within four amos?

The answer is that HaShem was demonstrating that nothing needs to make sense. The entire existence of Klal Yisroel does not begin to make sense. It is only because Hashem wills it to be that we continue on. How will Eretz Yisroel be ours when the whole world is against us? Does a tiny nation even have a chance against the rest of the world? Hahsem allowed Yaakov Avinu to see the impossible happening so that Klal Yisroel will never worry about “how”. When it comes to the middah of bitachon, we must realize that no matter how far-fetched something seems, there are no rules for HaShem. If He wills it, so shall it be. When we finally accept that things are מאין (impossible), then it will be יבוא עזרי.  


Good Shabbos, מרדכי אפפעל