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The Seeker

By: Mrs. Shelby Binstock

In this week’s Parsha, Parashat Toldot we can learn a valuable lesson from the essence of Yaakov Avinu. At first glance it seems somewhat strange that one of the most important figures in Judaism is not described by his actions at all. One would think that such a great figure would be described in his deeds or actions but instead the Torah is seemingly quiet. How could it be that the main pasuk to describe Yaakov is so abstract, “ויעקב איש תם יושב אהלים(25:27)? What does this pasuk have to do with the essence of Yaakov Avinu? The former mashgiach of Mir Yeshiva, HaRav Yeruchum Lebovitz, points out that the targum Yonaton translates איש אהלים to תבע אולפן (seek/demand Hashem) which also happens to be the same targum of the pasuk "והיה כל מבקש ד" .

Says the mashgiach: A great yesod, essence, of Yaakov is truly described in the pasuk! He was completely מבקש ד' and every action in his life was built on this foundation. Therefore the Torah doesn’t need to describe Yaakov through his actions or events but rather when the Torah tells us that he was מבקש ד', we know that no matter which action was taken it was done with that very intention! The events therefore become trivial matters but ultimately the basis of all those times is built around a greater intention, which is to be מבקש ד'.

The true greatness of this middah to be a מבקש ד' can be seen in a beautiful and true story. When HaRav Chaim Shmuelvitz traveled to Yeshiva Nevorduk to see his uncle HaRav Avraham Yafen who was serving as the Rosh Yeshiva at the time, HaRav Chaim asked him a simply question: Who is the best boy in yeshiva?” The Rosh Yeshiva took his time pointing to various boys around the yeshiva describing their unique traits, this one is the best in understanding, pointing at another he would say this one is the greatest in dedication to learning, to another he would say this has a great depth of knowledge etc. After the Rosh Yeshivas descriptions finally HaRav Chaim asked:  “But who is the best boy in yeshiva?” The Rosh Yeshiva without a hesitation pointed at a boy sitting in the corner and said “him!” HaRav Chaim was shocked, and inquired, “But uncle he wasn’t one of the boys you previously pointed to? Why is he the best?” His uncle turned towards HaRav Chaim and said because he is known as "המבקש". That man went on to become one of the greatest Rebbaim of the generation, HaRav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky (The Steipler).

While the girls spend their year here in Israel they gain so many valuable lessons in learning and from teachers, but if there is one thing that they can take from one of Am Yisrael’s greatest teachers it is to be like Yaakov Avinu and be a "מבקש" so that all their actions in life are truly involved with the essence of avodat Hashem!

Shabbat Shalom.




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