After Yaakov fights with the Malach of Esav who injured him in the Gid Hanashe, the Torah prohibits Yisrael from eating the Gid Hanashe of a kosher animal. The Seforno comments that by prohibiting the consumption of the Gid Hanashe, one will be removed from giving any attention to this negative experience of Yaakov and his spiritual falling with the Malach of Esav. After spiritual injuries one must not focus on the negative past but rather on the future of one’s potential bechirah. As the sefarim say that worse than the aveirah is the self inflicted melancholy following it.
The Seforno’s teaching can be gleaned from the passuk itself על כן לא יאכלו בני ישראל את גיד הנשה. The Torah’s substitute usage of the language of על כן instead of לכן needs interpretation. In the words על כן lie the reason for the prohibition. Positivity is expressed in the word כן in contrast to לא which expresses negativity. על כן because the Torah wanted one to have a positive hopeful state it prohibited any connection to the Gid Hanashe.
Being is a state of simcha and hopefulness is one of the key components of upward avodas Hashem. The Chassidim say that the reason why the Malach hit Yaakov specifically on the thigh was to stop him from dancing. Animals can express sadness and even whimper when its owner leaves the house. Animals however cannot smile nor laugh no matter how close of a relationship they have with their master. This characteristic is exclusively human and only made possible for the Tzelem Elokim. For Hashem is describes as עוד וחדוה במקומו Strength and joy dwells in His place. Only humans who were created with Tzelem Elokim possess that capacity of simcha and happiness with a smile and laughter.
When one is able to be hopeful even when he finds himself in a stressful situation, that alone is the window from which he will be able to climb out of his predicament. In the name of the Klausenberger Rebbe ztl he interpreted the passuk כי בשמחה תצאו that with the power of simcha one can extricate himself from trying situations.
One way to understand this is through a story. A Chassid was one walking by the beach and heard his chaver shouting from the water “Help Help, the current is pulling me out to sea”. Quickly he grabbed a rope and with his entire might threw it within hands reach of his friend. He screamed back “Grab on to the rope and I will pull you in”. However, his friend who just fell into hopeless ness and despair just stared back motionlessly in shock. “If so”, screamed back the chassid holding the rope, “please send my best regards to Livyasan when you get there” (the legendary fish from which we will partake in the Next World). Upon hearing his friend’s most ridiculous and insane request considering that his life was about to expire, he just couldn’t control himself and he burst out in laughter.
This weird reaction of laughter can be compared to our reaction when witnessing a scene of a fancy person really put together, walking ostentatiously intentionally wanting to draw the attention of his surroundings when suddenly he slips on a banana peel and tumbles to the ground. It really is not funny at all yet we find ourselves laughing. Rav Tzaddok of Lublin calls this reaction שחוק when the total opposite of what is expected happens. This is what is going to occur at the time of the final geulah אז ימלא שחוק פינו.
As soon as he laughed, the drowning chassid was able to grab the rope and was pulled safely to shore. The explanation was that when strict judgment fell upon him placing him in this life threatening situation, he was drawn into sadness and helplessness which further locks in the middas hadin. The way to break the spell of din is to be in a state of simcha.
One easily falls into depression when his endeavors to accomplish are met with failure. In Yiddish there is an exceptional saying that if can truly live by it he is guaranteed to wipe out completely any depression. Mir daf taan nisht oiftan – our job in life is to do and not necessarily accomplish. Hashem does the accomplishing if He wants it. This concept is found in this week’s parsha. Yaakov prepares for war against Esav and his four hundred men plus according to the Medrash. He has four wives and eleven children and the strategy is to divide them into two camps. This preparation seems to the average person ridiculous and futile. However, to the maamin, he understands that one is only required to do his best and then Hashem will finish the job. One does not have to look further than Chanukah which was the military victory of thirteen individuals over millions of trained and armed Greek soldiers. If Hashem wants to accomplish a victory then so it is – no matter what the odds are.
Just today I heard a story from the author of Sichos B’avodas Hashem concerning his grandfather and father who was in the Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp. A few days before Chanukah the buzz around the camp was how were they going to light the Chanukah licht. They already made wicks from threads of their prisoner uniforms but there was no margarine to smuggle in to serve as oil. The first night of Chanukah came and all their effort bore no fruit. They began preparing for bed in gloom. All of a sudden there was a startling bang on one of the children’s beds and behold right before them lay a package. They quickly opened it up and saw a package of margarine and thirty six wicks. You could not believe the joy and simcha the Yidden experienced with that package which was just another miracle of Chanukah בימים ההם בזמן הזה. After the war when this miracle was investigated his grandfather discovered that the Satmer Rav ztl was in that very bunk right and in that very bed before their family were placed there. With his protekziah he was able to procure the necessities for lighting the licht on Chanukah and hide them in the ceiling. All that Hashem desired was for the current prisoners to make their greatest effort possible and then leave the salvation up to Him.
The Chazon Ish ztl took upon the responsibility to raise funds for certain mosdos in Bnei Brak. He once sent a meshulach to Europe and America with the task to raise money. The Meshulach was busy on his mission for three months and he returned home without enough money even to cover his travel expenses. When he returned to Bnei Brak he was so depressed over his unsuccessful trip that he was too embarrassed to stand in the same presence of the Chazon Ish so he avoided him completely. One day he gets a knock on his door and he receives the message that the Chazon Ish found out that he was here and he wants to see him immediately. The meshulach thought to himself that the day of judgment has finally arrived and he must face the shame. Upon entering he saw that the Chazon Ish’s face was radiant with a big smile. “I owe Reb Yankel a big thank you for your successful fundraising on behalf of my mosdos”. Reb Yankel thought that the Chazaon Ish was being cynical even though that was not his character at all. “What do you mean” asked Reb Yankel. The Chazon Ish replied, ”The proof is lying on my desk, a check for $5000”. Reb Yankel picked up the check in disbelief and saw the amount just as the Chazon Ish said. “But wait,” said Reb Yankel astonished. “This check is from Australia? I went to Europe and United States only”. The Chazon Ish just smiled and said “We just have to make the effort and Hashem makes the accomplishment. Your effort in collections in Europe and United States triggered our salvation to come from Australia.” Hashem is well connected and has unfathomable amounts of networks through which He works”.
The bottom line is do do do do do and leave the accomplishments to Hashem if He wants them to to reach the level of accomplishments. Never get down over failure as long as you tried your hardest. The middah of simcha breaks the din. The entire miracle of Chanukah came about only because the Yidden were relentless in their search to find pure undefiled oil even though it was not at all halachakly necessary. However they wanted to do the best they could and stretch themselves to the utmost. Hashem appreciated their extra mileage and reciprocated by presenting them not only with a flask of undefiled oil but also miracle oil with extra mileage that lasted and lasted way beyond its natural limitations and capacity.
Gut Shabbos Rav Brazil