Vayeitzei: Work Hard Now!

My two year old is a funny guy.  Very intelligent, very cute.  We know it and he knows it.  We all knew that he can understand Hebrew and English, and is speaking both with his limited male ability.  However, we didn’t know that he knew Arabic.


Last week, we had an Arab worker over to fix something.  My son walks in, sees him, and starts speaking to him in gibberish.  Not a Hebrew or English gibberish, but an Arabic gibberish.  We’ve never hear him speak in such a guttural way.  He was even waving his arms around, and I heard "yallah!" a few times.  A few days later, my other son gets on a small bus, and the driver was a Druze, my youngest starts conversing with him . . . in “Arabic”!  It’s the strangest thing to see.


Okay, on to Torah!


This dvar Torah is dedicated to Sara bas Karmel that she should have a speedy recovery.


I’ve always found this week’s parsha to be very cold.  Perhaps, because the temperature always drops during this season and the nights are very long.  However, it really comes from the fact that we see Yaakov begin and end his long exile from his parents and Eretz Yisroel.  He lives with and works for Lavan, marries his two daughters, begins a family, and begins to build his own livelihood.


There are two things Yaakov is most commonly known for: Truth and Learning Torah.  Both of those things are major issues that he has to fight on, not only with his brother Eisav, but also with Lavan.  Throughout his stay with Lavan, Lavan tried to cheat him left, right, and center, and yet Yaakov had to maintain his level of Truth.  Yaakov also testified on himself how hard he had to physically work with the herds in the summer heat and the winter cold.  Yet, he obviously maintained his level of Torah observance and learning.


One of the main differences between Yaakov and Eisav is how they spent their early years.  Yaakov spent his time “in tents” learning Torah, and Eisav was out “in the field."  Both were the same age, of the same family, and given the same opportunities.  Yet, both chose different routes.  And both ended in different places.


I thought about this whole issue, and I had a thought, I wanted to share.


Yaakov was able to survive Lavan, spiritually speaking, since he used his childhood time properly.  Had Eisav been put in the same situation, well, we saw what happened to him without Lavan’s help, we could imagine how much worse he would have come out.


I’ve seen such a thing many times.  When a member of the kollel uses his time properly during those years, he finds it easier to maintain his standards when he joins the work force.  Perhaps, "easier" is not the right word; maybe he has more self-determination.  However, when a person wastes his time in kollel and he doesn’t grow, he tends to go downhill from there when he leaves.


This is only an example that we can apply in our lives.  Throughout our lives, we have “kollel years” (which could last years, days, hours, or even minutes), during which we are given some extra time and power to do something special.   During these times, we have a choice on how to use it.  We could be like Eisav, and simply continue on with life as we want to.  Or we could be like Yaakov, and take the opportunity to strengthen ourselves.


When we take that opportunity that Hashem is giving us, we are not only strengthening ourselves for the present, but we are also fortifying ourselves for the future when things are working against us.


Perhaps this is a lesson we can learn from this week’s parsha.  Use the time and strengths that we are given to maximize our potential, and even if we don’t see the payoff now, it will help us in the future.


Have a great Shabbos!


Michael Winner