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The Crown of Halacha

Vayishlach 5778 – Pachim Katanim

This entry is part 9 of 11 in the series Bereishis 5778

Vayishlach 5778 – Pachim Katanim

“Yaakov was left alone and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn.” Bereishis 32:25.
Why Did Yaakov Make A Dangerous Decision?
Chazal tell us that when Yaakov Avinu moved his camp across the ford of Yabbok he inadvertently left behind some pachim katanim (small pitchers). Since Yaakov Avinu was a wealthy man he could have left them behind and it wouldn’t have detracted from his journey in the slightest. Why would he choose to put his life in danger by traveling alone in the dark, crossing the river over and back, to retrieve vessels of insignificant value?

That Which Comes Your Way Is For A Purpose

We must understand that Hashem’s hasgacha pratis is embedded in even the smallest detail. Therefore, everything that comes our way has meaning. When evaluating the worth of an item, monetary value is deceptive. The true worth of anything is its purpose in the spiritual realms. Yaakov Avinu was cognizant that Hashem’s hasgacha pratis is transmitted via the small things that happen in life. Since Hashem gave him the pachim katanim they must have a special purpose, even if he did not yet know what that was to be. So he went back to reclaim them.

The Satan Begins His Attack On A Detail

The “man” who wrestled with Yaakov Avinu was the sar (angel – the Satan) of Eisuv. Why did the Satan wait until this moment in time to fight with Yaakov?

When the Yetzer Hara (Satan) wants to bring down a person he knows it is fruitless to launch the attack at the level of the big aveiros, like m’chalel Shabbos or eating trief. As we learn from Parshas Eikev it is easier for the Satan to sabotage us through the small mitzvot that people tend to regard as relatively unimportant, like coming to shul on time or greeting a stranger b’savor panim yafos (with a pleasant disposition). The Satan waited until Yaakov Avinu was involved in retrieving something seemingly trivial. The evil plan was to make it difficult for him to collect the pachim; had Yaakov given up, then that would be a denial of the hashgacha pratis.

Name The Enemy!

Then Yaakov inquired and he said, “Divulge, if you please, your name.”
And he said, “Why do you inquire of my name?”

Yaakov wanted to know the source of the Satan’s strength. By naming the evil, one has power over it. The Sar of Yaakov was forced to give over his name.

Never Be Afraid To Ask Questions

The name of the Satan is “Why ask?” and this is his strength. If a person gives up asking “why?” he deadens his awareness of Hashem and becomes a servant to circumstances. Apathy is the Satan’s most powerful weapon.

You Get Out Of Life What You Put Into It

A vibrant relationship with Hashem is maintained through an examination of the details within a person’s hashgacha protis. When one truly believes in Hashem then every detail has meaning and should be fully appreciated. So take a look around you, do you have any questions?

(Footnote: Some say that one of the pachim Yaakov fought for was the one discovered on Chanukah! Little did he know this at the time he rescued the pachim.)

Series Navigation<< Vayeitzei 5778 – Sulam Yaakov – Jacob’s LadderVayeishev 5778 – Fight or Flight >>
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