survival basics

Lately I've been thinking a lot about Yaakov Avinu's neder that he made to HaShem before leaving the land of Israel for the first time:
כ וַיִּדַּר יַעֲקֹב, נֶדֶר לֵאמֹר: אִם-יִהְיֶה אֱלֹהִים עִמָּדִי, וּשְׁמָרַנִי בַּדֶּרֶךְ הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי הוֹלֵךְ, וְנָתַן-לִי לֶחֶם לֶאֱכֹל, וּבֶגֶד לִלְבֹּשׁ. כא וְשַׁבְתִּי בְשָׁלוֹם, אֶל-בֵּית אָבִי; וְהָיָה יְהוָה לִי, לֵאלֹהִים. כב וְהָאֶבֶן הַזֹּאת, אֲשֶׁר-שַׂמְתִּי מַצֵּבָה--יִהְיֶה, בֵּית אֱלֹהִים; וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר תִּתֶּן-לִי, עַשֵּׂר אֲעַשְּׂרֶנּוּ לָךְ.
20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying: 'If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father's house in peace, then shall the LORD be my God, 22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house; and of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee.'
There's a lot to be said and understood from these seemingly simple words. For me it is comforting to know that until the end of days (according to an informed reading) HaShem is basically responsible for our food and clothing, two things we apparently don't need to worry about.

But I wondered why it was that Yaakov Avinu asked for these two things (in addition to being returned to the house of his father) what about other things physical and spiritual? The first answer is that if you have those two, you can survive, and once you can survive you can dedicate the rest of your life to serving HaShem and developing a relationship with Him. But the deeper answer is that our Rabbis teach (As brought down in the Tanya) that in Gan Eden, we are clothed in our mitzwoth and nourished by our Torah. From this we can perhaps see what Yaakov Avinu was really talking about: He asked HaShem to bless him always with Torah study and mitzwoth, spiritual food and clothing. (It should be noted that Torah and mitzwoth are the bare minimum for spiritual survival. Just as food and clothes are the bare minimum for physical survival)

(Perhaps on an even deeper level Yaakov Avinu was hinting to Har Sinai and the Mishkan)


Related posts

Blog Widget by LinkWithin