How to Rely on God’s Assistance

Parshas Vayeitzei

November 21, 2015 – ט’ כסלו תשע”ו

When Yaakov fled from Esav’s wrath, he passed by the site which would eventually house the Temple in Jerusalem. He knew that his father and grandfather had prayed there, for they understood that it was the optimal spot on earth to allow for a direct connection to G-d. Rashi quotes the the Talmud (Chullin 91b) which derives from the verse “and he traveled to Charan” (Bereishis 28:10) that it was only when he reached Charan that he realized his missed opportunity and turned around. At that point, HaShem performed a miracle and transported him back to Jerusalem in an instant. There he fell asleep and had his famous “angels and ladder” dream. Rashi questions why HaShem waited until Yaakov traveled all the way to Charan to position him on the Temple Mount. Why didn’t God somehow stop him before he passed the place?

Rashi answers using the dictum to not force someone to do a mitzvah. Even though in his heart Yaakov clearly would have wanted to stop and pray, God did not want to intervene without an express indication from Yaakov that he intended to pray there. God will not help us achieve our goals unless we initiate the deed on our own by putting our best foot forward. HaShem will step in for the assist when he sees that we make the right decision with conviction and determination. Then we can rely on Him to deliver results above and beyond our expectations. ​

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