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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Vayishlach

Time to get big!

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When we speak about God standing alone there is a famous Pasuk אין עוד מלבדו which explains that there is really no one else besides Him in this world and that when you look at the world and you look at God, you really understand that He is the only entity ישות that exists. But how can we say the same thing about Jacob, as if he is the only one in this world and nothing else besides him really exists?!

However, if we listen carefully, the Midrash is trying to teach us an important lesson about who Jacob was. Jacob is so special that when you look at him and understand how great he is, the world doesn't really count. He is like the base of the world the ground on which everything stands. And in one respect, he really carries the whole world on his shoulders. This whole world exists thanks to the people of Israel and he, as their forefather, represents this fact. Jacob is on so much higher a level, that he exemplifies God to some degree.

On the other hand, there's another midrash explaining that Jacob was standing there alone because he was the last one to leave the field, and he wanted to make sure that he didn't forget anything, even the smallest object that had only monetary value. This is trying to teach us that the righteous pay attention to even the smallest things and relate to even the smallest detail.

Two midrashim, each one coming from the same Pasuk, which are totally different - we might even say opposite. One highlights how great Jacob was, while the other shows us how sensitive he was to minutae. The truth is that they are not so much opposite, as complimentary to each other.

Rav Kook explains that a great personality is someone who can live on a spiritual level which is much higher than that of this world, but on the other hand, must have the ability to notice and respect every tiny part of it, too.

The way we see things in this world, we live our life feeling that anyone who is a significant personality, will not waste his time, getting involved with minutae. But the truth is that it's only by being connected to the small things and being on a high-level, that you are able to achieve greatness and a significant figure in the sovereignty of the world. Surely this is a great way to invest in higher spiritual study, while keeping all the mitzvot, even the smallest of them. Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh Yeshiva of the Bet El Yeshiva, was the head of the Yesha rabbis board and rabbi of Bet-El, founder and head of Arutz 7.
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