Monday, January 30, 2012

311 - Bo

Bnei Yisrael were given two mitzvos to perform before their redemption from Mitzrayim: bris milah and korban Pesach. Included in the mitzvah of Korban Pesach was the commandment to place the lamb's blood on the two doorposts and the lintel. Regarding this commandment the Torah tells us, "And the blood will be a sign for you upon the houses that you are in. And I will see the blood, and I will pass over you, and there will be no plague of destruction when I smite in the land of Egypt" (Shemos 12, 13).

Did Hashem really need a sign to be able to distinguish between a Jewish home and the house of an Egyptian? Rashi, citing Chazal, explains as follows. "Everything is revealed before Him, and yet, Hashem said, 'I will place My eyes upon you to see if you are occupied with My mitzvos, and [then] I will pass over you.'"

Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) comments that Chazal are enlightening us to the spiritual mechanics of the mitzvos. Had Bnei Yisrael not placed the blood on the doorposts as commanded, they would have perished along with the Egyptians. Even though Hashem certainly has no problem distinguishing between the Jew and the Egyptian, He would not have done so had He not seen the Jew engaged in the performance of His mitzvos.

So Hashem doesn't need a sign to distinguish the occupants' nationality, but He does need our mitzvos?! The answer once again is, certainly not, since Hashem does not gain from our performance of the mitzvos. Nevertheless, He intertwined Divine Providence with the performance of mitzvos, and therefore, His intervention is contingent on our deeds. Had they not placed the blood on the doorposts, they would not have merited the Divine protection afforded those that keep Hashem's mitzvos.

Every mitzvah performed and each bracha recited brings blessing and bounty to the world. The course of nature is subservient to the guardians of the Torah, and all that occurs is a direct result of the observance or, G-d forbid, the lack of observance of the Torah and mitzvos. As clearly demonstrated in Mitzrayim, this rule holds true with even one single mitzvah. Their lives were spared because they had fulfilled the mitzvah of korban Pesach exactly as commanded. Precision in mitzvos garners Divine intervention.

310 - Vaeira

"Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon and commanded them regarding Bnei Yisroel" (Shemos 6, 13). Rashi explains thatHashem was commanding them to lead the Jewish People with calmness and tolerance (savlanus). The Medrash (Shemos Rabbah 7, 3) adds that Hashem told them "My children are stubborn and frustrating, and you are accepting this position with the knowledge that they might curse you and throw stones at you." Rav Wolbe (Alei Shur vol. II pg. 220) comments that one who does not have the ability to act patiently and with tolerance toward those around him cannot be a leader nor should he hold any public position for that matter. Without patience one cannot succeed in any communal position, such as a Rabbi, teacher, manager or Gabbai.

While this is certainly true regarding one who is involved with the public, it is also an essential middah in each and every person's day to day life. The Alter of Kelm writes, "We should make great efforts to become accustomed to acting with tolerance, for it is the root of all middos and serenity (Chochma U'mussar pg. 432). No two people have identical characteristics, upbringing, habits, pastimes and idiosyncrasies. Therefore, if one wishes to get along with his spouse, friends, colleagues, neighbors, roommates or learning partners, he must be tolerant of their actions and words.

What is savlanus? The root of the word is sovel - to carry [a heavy load]. One who is tolerant of others is similar to a porter who hauls a heavy load and carries on despite the burden. Likewise, every day we hear and see numerous things that we do not agree with or that rub us the wrong way. Moreover, many times others act in a way that is insulting or even downright nasty. Yet, in all these instances, a savlan acts with tolerance. He bears the burden of their actions or words and remains undaunted.

A note of clarification must be made: Savlanus is notindifference! It is not a feeling of, "Who cares what he does. Let him live his life and don't get me involved." Rather, tolerance is acting with level-headedness in all situations. When some acts in an offensive matter, instead of going into a mad frenzy, a savlan retains his composure and responds calmly. He rebukes and reprimands and he refuses improper demands, but with love and serenity and without anger.

Tolerance is a part of the middah of humility that everyone must make an effort to master. Rav Wolbe suggests that we allot fifteen minutes a day to acting with tolerance. Understandably this slot must be allotted to a time when we come in contact with other people (e.g. lunch). During these fifteen minutes, we should make an effort to bear whatever the people around us do or say, without acting rashly. This does not necessarily mean that we should remain silent for the fifteen minutes. Rather, we should remain cool and collected, and any response should emanate from these feelings.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

309 - Shemos

The Torah describes the oppressive bondage of Bnei Yisrael: "Bnei Yisrael groaned from the work and they cried out and their prayers went up to Hashem. And Hashem heard their moaning and He remembered His covenant with Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov. And Hashem saw Bnei Yisraeland Hashem knew"(Shemos 2, 23-25). Rashi explains "and Hashem knew" means "He focused His heart upon them and His eyes did not ignore them." The Ramban adds that "their suffering came before 'meor panav' - His illuminated countenance."

Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) elaborates by citing Chazal who tell us, "Rebbi Yochanan says, All that we have [to rely on] is [Hashem's] he'aras panim, as it is written, 'Illuminate Your face so that we may be saved.'" In other words, all bounty and blessing come as a result of Hashem showing His he'aras panim. We also find this concept mentioned in Shemoneh Esrei. In the last bracha we say, "for with the light of your countenance You gave us Hashem our G-d: the Torah of life, a love of kindness, charity, blessing, compassion, life, and peace." All good things are dependent on Hashem's he'aras panim.

Rav Wolbe continues that each middah of Hashem can be found in every person albeit on a microcosmic scale. Just as Hashem sometimes displays he'aras panim while at other times conceals His panim (hester panim), so too, people have the ability to manifest either he'aras panim or hester panim (hiding one's face i.e. ignoring). The basis for all mitzvos between man and his fellow man is the ability to take notice of the people around him.

In this week's parsha, we find a description of Moshe Rabbeinu that directly parallels the above mentioned explanation of Rashi. Moshe left Paroh's palace to go see how his brothers were faring. The Torah tells us, "And he observed their affliction." Rashi explains, "He focused his eyes and heart upon them and shared their burden with them." Despite growing up in the king's palace, he was not indifferent to the plight of his brethren. He left his regal abode to observe Bnei Yisrael's oppression. It was because Moshe personified this middah of he'aras panim that he merited to become the redeemer. For one to be a conduit for Hashem's he'aras panim, he must exemplify that very middah himself.

Every day we have numerous opportunities to behave with either he'aras panim or hester panim. We could ignore or pretend we didn't see the tzedakah collector, the man schlepping his packages, the unhappy child, the despondent colleague or the lonely neighbor. Or, we can emulate the middah of Hashem and give a dollar, lend a hand, or offer an encouraging word. If we act with he'aras panim, Hashem will reciprocate middah k'neged middah, and we will merit His infinite bounty and blessings.

308 - Vayechi

Just before Yaakov Avinu passed away, he gathered his sons together, and addressed each one of them in accordance with their individual needs and character traits. There was one exception: Shimon and Levi who were addressed as one. The Torah recounts Yaakov's admonishment: "Shimon and Levi are brothers; their weaponry is a stolen trade. May my soul not enter their conspiracy, may my honor not join their congregation, for in their wrath they killed men and at their whim they uprooted an ox. Cursed is their wrath for it is intense and their anger for it is harsh, I will separate them within Yaakov and disperse them within Yisrael" (Bereishis 49, 5-7). Rashi notes that even when Yaakov admonished his sons, he did not curse them; rather, he cursed their anger.

Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) related that his rebbe, Rav Yeruchom Levovitz, was once asked if it is permissible to hate a Jew who does not observe the Torah and mitzvos. Rav Yeruchom answered that such behavior is forbidden for most people, because they cannot differentiate between the person and his negative middos. Hence, they will end up hating the person himself which is prohibited. He added that a great person can make this distinction whereby he would hate the person's actions, and, nevertheless, love the person himself. Rav Wolbe continues that Yaakov displayed this greatness when he cursed merely Shimon and Levi's anger and refrained from cursing Shimon and Levi themselves.

Rav Yeruchom would say, a person with negative middos can be compared to a closet full of diamonds and pearls that has a rotten apple in the middle. Would anybody even entertain a thought of disposing an entire closet worth millions merely because it also contains a moldy apple? So too, every person intrinsically is worth millions. Negative character traits are a rotten apple that must be dealt with, but should not diminish a person's worth which inherently is invaluable.

This is an idea that, if properly internalized, can drastically change our relationship with our fellow man and our assessment of ourselves. We will be able to look at the big picture and appreciate the diamonds in spouses, relatives, friends and colleagues, without allowing a rotten apple to cloud our perception. Likewise, when we stand back and assess our own spiritual well-being, we will begin to take notice of our many qualities and strengths. This will allow us to focus on polishing these diamonds and pearls without getting disheartened or even depressed due to a few rotten apples!

307 - Vayigash

After Yosef revealed himself to his brothers, they were instructed to travel to Cana'an and return to Mitzrayim with their father, Yaakov. Yaakov then packed his belongings and began the journey toward Mitzrayim. On the way down he stopped in Be'er Sheva, and brought sacrifices. It is there that Hashem came to him in a dream: "I am the G-d, the G-d of your father. Do not fear from descending to Mitzrayim, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will descend with you and I will bring you up" (Bereishis 46, 3-4).

Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) asks that Yaakov knew that a terrible exile of more than two hundred years awaited him and his offspring. If so, how did Hashem succeed in calming Yaakov by telling him not to fear, "for I will make you into a great nation there" and "I will descend with you and I will bring you up?" Why was he not to fear the many years of exile combined with backbreaking labor which were extremely foreboding?

A similar question can be asked in Parshas Vayishlach. The Torah tells us that on the way back to Cana'an, Rochel went in to labor and had difficulty in her childbirth. The midwife reassured her, "Have no fear for this one is also a son for you" (ibid. 35, 17). Here, too, the question begs to be asked. Not only was Rochel experiencing difficulty in her childbirth, she actually died as a result. If so, why was she expected to be calmed with the knowledge that the child was a boy?

The answer, says Rav Wolbe, is that the only true fear is a fear of not achieving the intended purpose of one's actions, trials or tribulations. Hashem was reassuring Yaakov that the backbreaking labor of the exile was all for a purpose of forging them into a chosen nation, and that purpose would ultimately be achieved. Likewise, the midwife reassured Rochel that even though she was having a difficult labor and might possibly die from the ordeal, she need not fear, for she had accomplished her mission and achieved the goal for which she yearned and strived. She had given birth to her second sheivet - the final sheivet of Yisrael.

We can't always know if our actions will achieve their intended purpose. Nevertheless, we must do our best and Hashem will produce the outcome as He sees fit. Yet, there are some actions that we need not fear lest they achieve their intended purpose. Torah, Avodah and Gemilus Chasadim are the purpose for our existence, and their performance always achieves the desired outcome.

306 - Chanuka

On Chanuka we read the end of Parshas Naso which describes the korbanos brought by the Nesi'im at the time of the dedication of the Mishkan. Immediately thereafter, in the beginning of Parshas Beha'aloshcha, Hashem commands Aharon regarding the lighting of the Menorah. Rashi (Bamidbar 8, 2) questions the juxtaposition of these two parshios, and he explains (citing Chazal) that Aharon was distraught that neither he nor any member of his sheivet took part in the dedication of the Mishkan. Hashem consoled Aharon by telling him that his service was greater than the service offered by the Nesi'im for he will prepare and light the Menorah in the Mishkan.

The Ramban (ibid.) also cites this Chazal, but he explains it in another light. The consolation offered to Aharon was not referring to his lighting the Menorah in the Mishkan. Rather, it referred to the lighting of the Menorah that takes place on Chanukah each and every year. In contrast to korbanos (as those offered by the Nesi'im) which can only be brought when the Bais Hamikdosh is standing, the lighting of the Chanuka menorah is not bound to a specific era. It was a consolation for Aharon, since it was his offspring, the Chashmona'im, who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of Bnei Yisrael, and it is in their merit that we have the mitzvah of lighting the Chanuka menorah.

Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) elaborates on the Ramban's explanation and thereby renders Chazal's words more relevant for each and every one of us. The beginning of Sefer Bamidbar revolves entirely around the concept of Hashgacha Pratis - Divine Providence, and the Parshios describe how Hashem cares about every individual. Bamidbar begins with counting each person in Bnei Yisroel, and continues with the laws of Nazir whereby anyone can attain a level similar to the Kohein Gadol, and thereafter details the korbanos brought by the Nesi'im. The Nesi'im succeeded in achieving the pinnacle of Divine Providence, for they initiated a present to Hashem, and He accepted their korbanos. Moreover, He delighted in their offerings to the extent that He repeated each aspect of the twelve Nesi'im's offerings despite the fact that they were all identical.

Aharon's distress stemmed from this lack of Divine Providence that had been achieved by the Nesi'im. In response to this distress, Hashem consoled Aharon that his offspring would attain a similar level of Hashgacha Pratis. A handful of individuals were prepared to sacrifice their lives for the sake of Hashem, and succeeded in bringing salvation to the entire Bnei Yisroel. Moreover, Hashem delighted in their self sacrifice to the extent that a new mitzvah was given to Bnei Yisrael: the lighting of the Chanuka menorah.

This is but one of the lessons to be learned from the Yom Tov of Chanuka: how the initiation of a few or even a single individual can garner such awesome rewards. However, we must take the initiative to reach for a higher spiritual level. In response to our actions we can look forward to Hashem responding with a greater level of Hashgacha Pratis.

A Freilichin Chanuka!

305 - Vayeishev

How is it possible, asks the Sforno (Bereishis 37, 18), that the Shevatim, whose greatness is apparent in the fact that their names were engraved in the stones of the Kohein Gadol to be worn as a remembrance before Hashem, conspired to kill (or sell) their own brother? He answers that they pictured Yosef as a conniver who wished to wipe them out of this world or the next world, and possibly both worlds. In such a scenario, the Torah dictates, "If a person comes to kill you, you should kill him first." Hence, in the eyes of the Shevatim, in strict adherence to halacha, Yosef deserved to be put to death.

This explanation puts the whole story of the sale of Yosef in another light. The Shevatim convened a court and only after the guilty verdict did they devise a plan to get rid of Yosef. Yet, if this was the case, what did the brothers do wrong? Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) says the answer can be found a few pasukim earlier (ibid. 12). "And his brothers went to pasture their father's sheep in Shechem." Rashi cites Chazal who infer from the dots the Torah placed on top of one of the words ("es") that their true intention was not to bring their sheep to pasture, but rather, to bring themselves to "pasture" i.e. to tend to their own personal interests. We must bear in mind that the Torah is describing some of the greatest people who ever walked this Earth. However, like a seismograph which picks up even the slightest tremor in the most remote place, so too, the Torah picks up even the slightest flaw in a person's middos. Personal feelings got involved on some level, which was enough to set off a chain of events that would alter history forever.

Rav Wolbe adds that when studying the stories mentioned in the Torah one must take note of two different storylines that are taking place, i.e. the overt story and the covert story. In the above narrative, everything seems straightforward. Based on Yosef's dreams and other telltale signs, the brothers concluded that he was to be dealt with as one should with a would-be murderer. However, there was also the covert side of the story, and that was laced with egocentric feelings that brought them to jealousy and hatred, albeit subconsciously.

A person can be likened to a coal mine. Just as a mine is made up of numerous different strata, so too, a person is made up of numerous different layers. He is cognizant of some of these layers, while others he is aware of only subconsciously. Had the Torah not revealed to us the brothers' underlying impetus to kill Yosef, there would be no way to know their subconscious intentions, for it could very well be that they themselves were unaware of these feelings.

Middos are a very powerful player in determining the way a person conducts himself. Very often a course of action is taken based upon "negius" - a personal connection in one way or another. It could very well be that we are unaware of these feelings. However, sometimes if we were to take a minute to reevaluate the situation, we might be surprised to find that our 'altruistic' actions were in truth induced by self-aggrandizement. This is one of the lessons to be learned from the sale of Yosef.

304 - Vayishlach

Rav Wolbe cites a fascinating Medrash in this week's Parsha: "Reb Brachya said in the name of Reb Simone, There is none like The Almighty. Who is like The Almighty? Yeshurun - Yisroel Saba (Yaakov Avinu). Just as the Torah writes regarding The Almighty, 'And Hashem alone will be exalted on that day.' So too, regarding Yaakov Avinu the Torah writes, 'And Yaakov remained alone'" (Bereishis Raba 77, 1).

Hashem is described with the trait of aloneness, for when Moshiach comes it will be clear to one and all that there is no absolute truth aside from Hashem. In a similar vein, Yaakov is depicted as remaining "alone" since he personified this trait. The Torah tells us that he "dwelled in tents" i.e. spent all his days in the Bais Medrash. He lived in a spiritual bubble, and throughout his entire life he never left the confines of this abode that he had created for himself. No matter where he lived or what he was doing, he made sure that he was not influenced by the people and culture that surrounded him.

Rav Wolbe quotes his Rebbi, Rav Yeruchom Levovitz zt"l, who elaborated on this idea. Everyone realizes the proper way of living in accordance with the precepts of the Torah. Many people follow this blueprint for living when they are in the "safety" of their own homes. However, once they leave this comfort zone, their actions belie their convictions. They are constantly plagued by thoughts of, "What will they think about me if I do/don't do X, Y or Z." They are easily swayed by the culture and people around them. Such people lack the quality of "aloneness" for their actions are dependent on the endorsement of others.

There is yet an additional aspect of this quality, which can be gleaned from the following story. Rav Naftoli Amsterdam once bemoaned his spiritual state to his Rebbi, Reb Yisroel Salanter. "If I had the intellectual capabilities of the Shaagas Aryeh (a brilliant scholar), the heart of the Yesod V'Shoresh Ha'Avodah (a devoutly pious individual) and the character traits of Rebbi (Rav Yisroel Salanter), then I would be able to serve Hashem properly." To which his Rav Yisroel Salanter countered, "Naftoli, with your head, your heart and your middos, you, too, can serve Hashem properly!" Rav Yisroel Salanter was trying to ingrain in his talmid that each person has all the intrinsic qualities that he needs to fulfill his unique assignment in this world. It is incumbent upon a person to draw a circle around himself and to realize that his success in this world can be found within that circle. He does not need to mimic others, nor wish for physical or spiritual acquisitions of others, since everything he might possibly need could be found "at home."

A situation where our convictions are tested presents itself almost every day. Let us see if one time we can be faithful to what we know to be true, and act in accordance with this knowledge regardless of what others might think of us. This will enable us to emulate the middah of aloneness of Yaakov Avinu.

303 - Vayeitzei

In the beginning of the Parsha, the Torah recounts Yaakov's prophetic dream. "And behold there was a ladder set upon the ground and its head reached the Heavens" (Bereishis 28, 12). Rashi (ibid. 17) explains that the ladder was situated in Be'er Sheva, its midpoint was opposite the Bais Hamikdosh and its head reached Bais El. The Ramban disagrees and maintains that the bottom of the ladder was situated in the Bais Hamikdosh.

Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) cites the Maharal (Gur Aryeh) who elaborates on Rashi's explanation. Despite the fact that the Bais Hamikdosh was erected on Earth, nevertheless, it is also intimately connected to the Heavens. Chazal tell us that the Heavens were created with Hashem's "right hand" while the Earth was created with His "left hand." The "right hand" signifies chessed i.e. unlimited beneficence, since Hashem's kindness and benevolence are infinite. However, the "left hand" signifies din i.e. limited beneficence, since people are finite creatures and their ability to accept Hashem's great kindness is limited. The Bais Hamikdosh is the structure that unites the finite and the infinite. It is the conduit through which Hashem's unlimited kindness radiates to the rest of the Earth.

This is what Rashi intended when he explained that the Bais Hamikdosh was situated exactly halfway up the ladder. It is the structure that takes the chessed of the Heavens and the din of the Earth and unifies them into the perfect blend which allows for Hashem's infinite hashpa'ah to be felt by finite humans.

Rav Wolbe notes that all of our middos should parallel the Bais Hamikdosh in this aspect. As the Rambam (Shemoneh Perakim Chap. 4) writes, one's character traits should be fine tuned to function in accordance with "the golden mean." For example, one should not be overly bashful nor should he be brazen, rather, he should behave with a moderate temperament. In effect, such a person is taking the positive aspects of both bashfulness and brazenness, and blending them together into a perfectly balanced personality.

The significance of the placement of the ladder in Yaakov's dream was not limited to Yaakov himself. The lesson to be learned holds true for each and every one of us, each and every day, with each and every middah that we use.

302 - Toldos

Chazal tell us that during Rivka's pregnancy she felt conflicting movements from inside her womb. When she passed a Beis Medrash, the baby would kick implying an interest in leaving the womb in order to study Torah. However, when she passed a house of idol worship, she once again felt the kicking implying an interest in living a diametrically opposite way of life. This uncertainty with regard to the future of her child compelled her to ask the prophet Sheim to unravel the mystery. His answer is recorded in the Torah. "Two nations are in your womb, and two regimes from your stomach will be separated; the might will pass from one regime to the other, and the elder will serve the younger" (Bereishis 25, 23).

Rashi explains that the two nations will not attain greatness simultaneously. When one nation rises the other will fall. Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) explains that this pasuk encapsulates the last few thousand years of world history. The many wars fought and the numerous conflicts between countries all revolve around the Jewish Nation. Even when two gentile nations fight among themselves, it ultimately results in the Jewish people being affected on some level. As Chazal (Yevomos 63a) stated unequivocally, "All calamity that befalls the world is because of Yisroel."

This idea is apparent even in our day and age. The Arab countries are in constant conflict with all Western culture, but it is Israel that is the reason for this hostility. Zionism wished to solve "The Jewish Problem" by founding a Jewish State. We are witness to the fact that "The Jewish Problem" has followed right after it into the State of Israel.

Rav Wolbe was involved in arranging the curriculum of courses to be studied in the Chinuch Atzmai schools in Eretz Yisroel. He related that with most subjects, such as biology, chemistry, physics, and botany, they were able to find appropriate textbooks. However, regarding history this was not the case. Each historian had his own interpretation of world events, and none of them were in line with the Torah outlook described above.

It is in our hands to determine the outcome of this continuous discord. "When the voice is the voice of Yaakov, the hands no longer belong to Eisav." When Bnei Yisroel study Torah, the entire nation rises. The automatic result is that in turn our enemies fall!

301 - Chayei Sara

When Eliezer returned with Yitzchok's prospective bride Rivka, they encountered Yitzchok who had just arrived from Be'er Lachai Roi. In Parshas Lech Lecha we read how Hagar fled to Be'er Lachai Roi when she felt persecuted by Sarah, and it was there that four angels appeared to her. The Ramban writes (Bereishis 24, 62) that it is possible that Yitzchok had designated Be'er Lachai Roi as an appropriate place for prayer since the angels had visited that exact site.

We know that angels were quite commonplace in Avrahom's house. This being the case, what was unique about Be'er Lachao Roi that prompted Yitzchok to leave the confines of his home and travel to this site in the desert to pray? To answer this question, Rav Wolbe (Alei Shur vol II pg. 650) cites a Gemara in Meseches Brachos (10a). The Gemara mentions five different ways in which the neshama is similar to Hashem, and among them, "Just as Hashem sees but cannot be seen, so too, the neshama sees but cannot be seen."

The great difficulty in attaining a high level of emunah, can be attributed to the fact that Hashem cannot be seen. When we look out the window, all we perceive is the glamour and glitter of the physical world. Nevertheless, this is all a fa├žade that obstructs our view of "He Who cannot be seen." He sees all that we do, hears all that we speak, knows all that we think, and it is from Him that all bounty and blessings emanate. In truth, the spiritual world is more of a reality than the physical world, and therefore, most of our efforts should be expended with this reality in mind. However, our failure to perceive this spirituality clouds our outlook on life and causes us to digress from the path we were meant to take.

When Hagar fled to the desert and was visited by the angels, she called the Name of Hashem who spoke to her, "You are the G-d of seeing." "Therefore the well was called, 'Be'er Lachai Roi - the Well of the Living One who appeared to Me'" (ibid. 16, 13-14). Yitzchok was accustomed to seeing angels regularly, but that was because he had reached the level were the Shechina rested upon him, and the Shechina is always accompanied by angels. However, the fact that Hagar, a lowly maidservant, was visited by angels was a unique experience. This demonstrated that although one cannot perceive Hashem, He is very much "alive" and involved in the lives of even the lowly and despondent. This was an occurrence that was altogether new for Yitzchok, and this in turn prompted him to designate that site as his place of prayer. There would be no better site to speak to Hashem, than in the very place that He had shown His concern and involvement in the life of a maidservant.

Throughout the generations, the Jewish people have had numerous such revelations: the ten Plagues, the splitting of the sea, and the Giving of the Torah. In the days of the Judges they felt His presence whenever they had sinned and subsequently when they did teshuvah. And throughout the long galus, we too, recognize how He is very "alive" and closely involved in our lives. Had this not been the case, there would be no way our small nation could survive among "seventy wolves." The more we are cognizant of this reality, the easier it will be to believe in, and relate to Hashem. If we succeed in perceiving how Hashem is "alive" in our very lives, our tefillos will gain specialness similar to those tefillos of Yitzchok when he prayed at Be'er Lachai Roi.