Vayeitzei: You Can Move Mountains
We are big fans of entrepreneurship in our family. One of our favorite shows is Shark Tank. It is incredible to watch the dedication and drive of entrepreneurs. Many who appear on the show have watched the show themselves and it inspired them to want to make a difference in the world! Entrepreneurs are people who want to improve their lives in the 8F’s: Faith, Family, Finances, Freedom, Friendships, Fitness, Fun, and Following; they also want to help others improve in these areas also. One of the best things entrepreneurs can do is create jobs and leave a legacy. In the episode that aired last week, a young man from Philadelphia, PA, appeared with his mom and gave their pitch to the sharks. He began his apparel company Spergo, when he was 15 years old and has grown the business into a million-dollar business since then. He began selling T-shirts to friends and family, and later to barber shops, and eventually expanded to a broader market. He founded the company because he wanted to be an example for other young people in Philadelphia to show that there is a better life than getting involved in violence and drugs. This young man is truly an inspiration! When you believe in yourself, you can move mountains!
Picking up where we left off last week, in Parashat Vayeitzei, Yaakov left Be’ersheva and went to Charan (the birthplace of his mother). Rashi tells us that Yaakov went to Charan but realized that he forgot to pray in the spot where Avraham and Yitzchak both prayed (Mount Moriah), and he went all the way back. G-d didn’t stop him on the way to Charan to inspire him to pray there, however, when Yaakov decided to return to Mount Moriah, his journey was miraculously shortened. Once Yaakov arrived at the spot, he took stones and put them under his head. He fell asleep and had a dream of a ladder that reached from the Earth to the heavens, and angels of G-d were going up and down. G-d blesses Yaakov that he shall have descendants like the dust of the earth and all of the families of the earth will be blessed by him and his descendants. G-d tells him that he will be brought back to this land (Bereishit 28:10-15).
וַיֵּצֵ֥א יַעֲקֹ֖ב מִבְּאֵ֣ר שָׁ֑בַע וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ חָרָֽנָה
וַיִּפְגַּ֨ע בַּמָּק֜וֹם וַיָּ֤לֶן שָׁם֙ כִּי־בָ֣א הַשֶּׁ֔מֶשׁ וַיִּקַּח֙ מֵאַבְנֵ֣י הַמָּק֔וֹם וַיָּ֖שֶׂם מְרַֽאֲשֹׁתָ֑יו וַיִּשְׁכַּ֖ב בַּמָּק֥וֹם הַהֽוּא
וַֽיַּחֲלֹ֗ם וְהִנֵּ֤ה סֻלָּם֙ מֻצָּ֣ב אַ֔רְצָה וְרֹאשׁ֖וֹ מַגִּ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמָ֑יְמָה וְהִנֵּה֙ מַלְאֲכֵ֣י אֱלֹהִ֔ים עֹלִ֥ים וְיֹרְדִ֖ים בּֽוֹ
וְהִנֵּ֨ה יְהֹוָ֜ה נִצָּ֣ב עָלָיו֮ וַיֹּאמַר֒ אֲנִ֣י יְהֹוָ֗ה אֱלֹהֵי֙ אַבְרָהָ֣ם אָבִ֔יךָ וֵאלֹהֵ֖י יִצְחָ֑ק הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֤ר אַתָּה֙ שֹׁכֵ֣ב עָלֶ֔יהָ לְךָ֥ אֶתְּנֶ֖נָּה וּלְזַרְעֶֽךָ
וְהָיָ֤ה זַרְעֲךָ֙ כַּעֲפַ֣ר הָאָ֔רֶץ וּפָרַצְתָּ֛ יָ֥מָּה וָקֵ֖דְמָה וְצָפֹ֣נָה וָנֶ֑גְבָּה וְנִבְרְכ֥וּ בְךָ֛ כׇּל־מִשְׁפְּחֹ֥ת הָאֲדָמָ֖ה וּבְזַרְעֶֽךָ
וְהִנֵּ֨ה אָנֹכִ֜י עִמָּ֗ךְ וּשְׁמַרְתִּ֙יךָ֙ בְּכֹ֣ל אֲשֶׁר־תֵּלֵ֔ךְ וַהֲשִׁ֣בֹתִ֔יךָ אֶל־הָאֲדָמָ֖ה הַזֹּ֑את כִּ֚י לֹ֣א אֶֽעֱזָבְךָ֔ עַ֚ד אֲשֶׁ֣ר אִם־עָשִׂ֔יתִי אֵ֥ת אֲשֶׁר־דִּבַּ֖רְתִּי לָֽךְ
Rabbi Yaakov Wolbe mentions that The Torah initially refers to multiple stones that Yaakov uses as a pillow, but later the rocks become one. Initially the rocks competed over which one would be the one that Yaakov would lay his head on. Due to the spiritually high level of Yaakov, he was able to uplift the spirituality of the rocks. They no longer competed; the rocks became unified. Ramchal tells us that when we are spiritual, we are able to uplift the world to be spiritual also. This is a great lesson for us. When we acknowledge G-d, we inspire others to do the same!
Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis compares the dream of Yaakov with the dream of Pharoah. After Yaakov’s dream, he recognized that G-d’s presence was in that place. After Pharoah’s dream, he woke up, but went back to sleep. Yaakov took action after his dream, while Pharoah didn’t. Rabbi Mirvis teaches us that we have exceptionally powerful experiences in our lives, what matters is how we respond to those experiences. Will our lives forever be changed for the better or will we go back to sleep?
Yaakov continues his journey and arrives in Charan. Next, he asks about Lavan. Then, Yaakov sees Rachel and rolls the stone off the mouth of the well for the flocks to drink. He fell in love with Rachel and agreed to work for Lavan in order to marry Rachel. He is duped into marrying her sister, Leah because as Lavan says “It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the older” (Bereishit 29:26).
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לָבָ֔ן לֹא־יֵעָשֶׂ֥ה כֵ֖ן בִּמְקוֹמֵ֑נוּ לָתֵ֥ת הַצְּעִירָ֖ה לִפְנֵ֥י הַבְּכִירָֽה
Yaakov agrees to work for another seven years. In total, he works for a total of 20 years for Lavan. Finally, he marries Rachel. Yaakov is blessed with many children. Eventually, Yaakov leaves Lavan’s house and heads back to Eretz Yisrael with his whole family.
Rabbi Yaakov Wolbe says that there are no breaks in the Torah between sections. It’s because throughout the whole ordeal in this Parasha, Yaakov never lost sight of the message G-d promised him. He knew he would lead a nation. His focus was never broken. He never lost his vigilance.
There are four steps needed to achieve greatness. Yehuda ben Tema says “Be strong as a leopard, and swift as an eagle, and fleet as a gazelle, and brave as a lion, to do the will of your Father who is in heaven. He used to say: the arrogant is headed for Gehinnom and the blushing for the garden of Eden. May it be the will, O Lord our God, that your city be rebuilt speedily in our days and set our portion in the studying of your Torah” (Pirkei Avot 5:20).
יְהוּדָה בֶּן תֵּימָא אוֹמֵר: הֱוֵי עַז כַּנָּמֵר, וְקַל כַּנֶּֽשֶׁר, רָץ כַּצְּבִי, וְגִבּוֹר כָּאֲרִי, לַעֲשׂוֹת רְצוֹן אָבִֽיךָ שֶׁבַּשָּׁמָֽיִם. הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר: עַז פָּנִים לְגֵיהִנֹּם, וּבֽוֹשֶׁת פָּנִים לְגַן עֵֽדֶן. יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶֽיךָ, יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ, שֶׁיִּבָּנֶה בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵֽינוּ, וְתֵן חֶלְקֵֽנוּ בְּתוֹרָתֶֽךָ
The first step to do something great is to be bold-to go for it! Yaakov made the decision to be the founder of the Jewish nation. He turned back to Eretz Yisrael from Charan in order to pray. He maintained his composure despite the challenges. Though, he was frustrated with Lavan, he never lost sight of the big picture. He knew G-d would be with him and he remembered G-d’s promise to him!
We have the ability also to accomplish great things! The only way we can overcome the challenges we will go through is by focusing on the big picture. We must face the task that is before us, believe in ourselves, trust in G-d and move forward! Rambam, in his Commentary on Pirkei Avot, says that those who do the will of G-d will be blessed.
May we all be inspired like Yaakov, and like the young man who built his apparel company to do something great with our lives. As the saying goes in Dr. Seuss’ book “Oh, The Places You’ll Go”- kid you’ll move mountains.