One of the themes of Sefer Bereshis, is “Ma’aseh avot Siman Le-banim.” We are reminded by Chazal that the different experiences that our Avos had, are real and true examples for us as Jews and how we should act and behave in our lifetime.
In this week’s Parsha, Vayishlach, we see that Yaakov commanded his messengers to go and tell his brother Eisav that the reason why he has not come home for 22 years was because ‘IM LAVAN GARTI.” Yaakov was constantly working and surrounded by his father in law, Lavan and he was unable to leave. Rashi explains in his commentary that Yaakov was telling his brother Eisav that while he was living in his father in law’s house, he was still able to keep all of the 613 mitzvot.
Yaakov’s messengers continue to tell his brother that “va-yehi li shor v-chamor” he has become rich from sheep and cattle. Rashi continues to say that Yaakov was very concerned that Eisav would be jealous of his wealth, therefore Yaakov was reassuring him that he did not become rich because of the Bracha that he received from Yitzchok, their father. The Bracha that Yaakov was given said that he would become rich from the heaven and the best crops of the land, but it did not mention animals. Therefore Yaakov received these animals on his own merit and not because of the Bracha that he took away from Eisav.
Rambam asks in his commentary, what message is Yaakov trying to tell Eisav by mentioning that he kept all of the 613 mitzvots while living in Lavan’s house and that he was successful in getting a large amount of cattle and sheep? Rambam explains that Yaakov was trying to explain to his brother that he became wealthy only because of his complete commitment and dedication to his job. Yaakov worked with all of his physical strength and drive and he was rewarded with material wealth in the form of the sheep and cattle. We should all learn a deep lesson from the actions demonstrated by Yaakov, when one is working for an employer, we must work with all of our strength and might and not waste any precious time.
We know that Yaakov worked for Lavan for over 20 years without any positive recognition or appreciation for anything. In fact , Chazal tell us that Lavan was very poor before Yaakov came to work with him. It was in fact Yaakov who made Lavan rich. We therefore learn that Yaakov was telling his brother that I was able to keep the 613 mitzvots and I became wealthy even though my father in law Lavan tried to stop me from growing spiritually and materialistically.
This is a true sign of “Ma’aseh avot siman Le-banim.” It is human nature for a person to work to his potential both spiritually and materialistically when he receives encouragement and recognition. If one is not recognized or praised for his efforts, it is easy for him to not put in so much effort. We learn for Yaakov that we have no right to slack off in our Avodots Hashem or in our bein adam Le’chavaro even though we might not receive praise or recognition. This is the mark of a true Tzaddik. We all have with in us the power and potential to preform mitzvot whether or not we are going to receive praise or encouragement. May we all be zoche to be like Yaakov and prosper and grow in all situations.
Student Studying in Tomer Devorah