Friday, 09 December 2016

Physical Strength

by Kosher (See all authors)

In this week’s parsha (29-10) we find that Yaakov Avinu was incredibly strong. He moved a stone, which required many shepherds to roll, without difficulty. Rash”i says that the Torah tells this to us to show us that he was very strong.

The obvious questions are:
1. How did he get so strong, we know that he was sitting and learning all day and not working out in the gym?
2. Who cares, is physical strength such a big deal?

The answers can be found in the tefilas geshem that we say on Shmeni Atzeres. There it says about Yaakov, “yichad lev v’gol even mayim.” (He unified his heart and rolled the stone off the water.) The mefarsim explain that within us there are conflicting desires. Our neshama wants one thing, our physical body wants another thing and different parts of our body may want something else. The result of these conflicting desires is that when we do something, we do it with only part of ourselves (and part might be even fighting against it). This makes us very weak.

By Yaakov Avinu, his entire being physical and spiritual was subjugated to the service of Hashem. Therefore, when he determined that avodas Hashem required him to do something, his entire being was into it and that resulted in tremendous strength.

The lesson to us: we need to appreciate that what is best for our Avodas Hashem is, in fact, best for our physical interests, as well. Internalizing that will give us the strength that we otherwise would not have had.
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At the end of the Parsha (31, 1-16) we find a very interesting conversation between Yaakov and Rochel & Leah. Hashem told Yaakov that it was time to return to his parents, and in the conversation between Yaakov and his wives, this seems almost like an afterthought, and the main emphasis is on what a rotten guy Lavan is and how he did not treat them like family.


The mefarhsim explain that where a person is, is more than where he is physically located, but also where his mind and emotional attachment are. Therefore, in order to keep the instruction they were given to leave, they needed to emphasize how they do not feel related and connected to Lavan emotionally etc.