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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Struggle and Success

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

"And Yaakov went out…”

I picture our father Yaakov leaving Beer Sheva all alone. As his ancestors before him he was walking from Southern Israel to Charan, (the area of Turkey) to search for and discover his marriage partner. He was around eighty years old as he set out on this long journey all alone. His grandfather’s emissary, Eliezer took this journey with all the gear he could possibly need to be successful. He had camels and donkeys. He had plenty of food and plenty of money, He brought with him the finest of jewellery. When he arrived at his destination as the ambassador of Abraham, he came with great dignity and fanfare and was afforded great respect.

Yaakov had to go it alone. He had no servants, no money, no camels and no gifts. He walked the unpaved frightening desert path alone. He was a penniless old man walking the dark frightening desert trek all alone.

He looked around him and he saw the mountains of Judea. He said 'I lift up my eyes onto the mountains; from where will I get help?' The Midrash Rabbah comments that he was really thinking about his father and grandfather (Harim =Horim). They had everything they needed to succeed in their journey. But 'I have nothing to take along. (Mayin yovo ezri - ayin = nothing). How will I survive?'

As he contemplated his poverty he said, 'Can I give up on my Creator? Will He let me down? Ezri mim Hashem! My help will come from the Lord, who created the Heavens and the Earth!'

There are two paths to Godly success. There is the illuminated situation where G-d in helping us pours His abundance upon us. The abundance is showered upon us from the Heavens and we must work with it to do His will and sanctify. In Kabbalistic language this is referred to as 'isaruta d'leyla', an inspiration which begins above. There is another, perhaps greater way to succeed. When there is seemingly nothing forthcoming from above and we have to start the success in this world. This is called 'Isarusa d'lesato', inspiration which begins in this world. Yaakov's fathers before him merited Isarusa D'Leyla; Yaakovs mandate in this world was different. His job was to create Gods blessings in this world. He had to begin the cycle from within himself. Abraham and Isaac taught the world about G-d's gifts. Yaakov taught the world how to use ones own life to create blessing and sanctify the world.

“With some G-d brings their marriage partner straight to their doorstop; with others they must go out and seek. Yitzchok had his wife brought to him; Yaakov had to struggle and search for his mate. (Midrash Rabbah)

On the one hand Ya'akov's life was a struggle; on the other hand Yaakov founded the Jewish nation.

For us - sometimes we are showered with blessings. This is a gift from G-d and we must be sure to always use that blessings responsibly and well. Sometimes we have to struggle for our blessing. When we achieve our goal we realize that G-ds gift to us was even greater. The blessing is ours and can never be taken away.

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