Thursday, November 22, 2007

Vayishlach 5631 Second Ma'amar

Ya’akov Avinu, in preparation for meeting Esav, prays to God, “קָטֹנְתִּי מִכֹּל הַחֲסָדִים וּמִכָּל-הָאֱמֶת אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתָ אֶת-עַבְדֶּךָ כִּי בְמַקְלִי עָבַרְתִּי אֶת-הַיַּרְדֵן הַזֶה וְעַתָּה הָיִיתִי לִשְׁנֵי מַחֲנוֹת: הַצִּילֵנִי נָא מִיַּד אָחִי מִיַּד עֵשָׂו .../I am unworthy of all the kindness and faith that You have shown me for I crossed the Jordan with [only] my staff and now I have become two camps. Please save me from my brother Esav …”

קָטֹנְתִּי/I am unworthy” literally translates as “I have become small.” The simple understanding, Rashi’s understanding is, “I have become small from – because of – all the kindness You have shown me.” Ya’akov Avinu was concerned that the kindnesses that God bestowed upon him had diminished his merits.

The Chiddushei HaRim explains in the name of the Rav from Lublin that Ya’akov Avinu is attributing his realization that he is unworthy to God, including that realization in the kindnesses that God has shown him. Accordingly, the pasuk translates as, “My realization of my own smallness is from – included in – the kindness that You have shown me.” The Rav from Lublin is teaching us that it is good to think of oneself as small. Therefore, the realization itself is a kindness that God bestows.

The Sfas Emes gives still another interpretation. When Ya’akov Avinu considered all the kindness that God had shown him, he realized how small he was. The pasuk translates then as, “My realization of my own smallness is from – a result of – the kindness you have shown me.” When we think of all the kindnesses that God does for us, which essentially includes everything we are and everything we have, we come to an understanding of our own smallness.

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