Thursday, December 4, 2008

153 - Vayeitzei

"And Yaakov made a promise saying, 'If Hashem will be with me and watch over me on the path which I will take and give me food to eat and clothing to wear. And if I will return to my father's house in peace and Hashem will be for me a G-d - This stone that I have placed as a monument will be a house for Hashem...'" (Bereishis 28, 20-22).
Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) notes that in effect Yaakov was asking that Hashem watch over him with an extremely high level of Hashgacha Pratis. What justification did Yaakov have to ask for such special treatment from the Almighty? Rav Wolbe explains that Hashgacha Pratis works measure for measure in accordance with the amount of effort that a person puts into his avodas Hashem. The closer one gets to Hashem, the more acute the Divine Providence becomes. Hence, Yaakov wasn't merely asking for a free handout. He realized that he would need to reach a lofty level of spirituality for him to merit the ultimate Hashgacha Pratis - that Hashem dwell in an abode on earth. He was declaring that if he succeeded in reaching a high level of spirituality, Hashem would then reciprocate and "be with him", watch over him and take care of his physical needs. If this would happen, that would be his cue that he was successful in his endeavor. He would then be able to build his monument into a house for G-d, because by perfecting himself, he will have created a proper resting place to accommodate Hashem's Shechina here on earth.
Our forefathers merited constant Hashgacha Pratis in all of their dealings, because they made an effort to serve Hashem with every action. Moreover, they earned the ultimate Hashgacha Pratis when Hashem's Shechina rested upon them. They subjugated themselves entirely to Hashem and thereby merited that thrice daily we refer to Hashem as, "The G-d of Avraham, the G-d of Yitzchok and the G-d of Yaakov."
Nevertheless, this rule of Hashgacha Pratis is not limited to our Avos. It holds true for each and every one of us. As Chazal tell us, Hashem leads a person on the path he wishes to follow. For example, if one is extremely cautious with regard to his speech or his thoughts, Hashem will assist him not to transgress an aveirah in that area. The more of an effort that one makes in his avodah of the Divine, the more Divine Providence he merits.
We say in Tehillim (121), "Hashem is your shadow" - since He mimics our behavior. If we are vigilant in a certain area of avodas Hashem, Hashem helps us in that area. [There was a man who decided to take upon himself to be careful not to miss hearing the haftorah on Shabbos. One week he had to excuse himself and he missed hearing the haftorah. On his way home he was called into a minyan that needed a tenth man, because someone had stepped out in the middle. He entered to find them just about to commence the reading of the haftorah. As they finished, the original tenth man reappeared, and he was free to go home; the Hashgacha Pratis was clear.] Why not try it and see for yourself the special Hashgacha Pratis one merits when he puts in the extra effort in his avodas Hashem.

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