Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayeitzei – Genesis 28:10-32:3
When a financial setback, sickness, or death make life unbearable, where can you go to find comfort? In the case of the last two, you probably look to your family. But when you fail to bring home the bacon, often it is hard to face your spouse and children. You feel you’ve let them down. Parshas Vayeitzei identifies your place of solace:
“And he [Jacob] encountered the place . . .” (Bereshis/Genesis 28:11).
In this Sabbath’s parsha Jacob flees to Laban’s house, encountering G-d on the way. Jacob meets Rachel and agrees to work seven years so he can marry her. Unwittingly he marries Leah, then agrees to work another seven years so he can marry Rachel.
Jacob and his wives have eleven sons and a daughter. Jacob makes a new work contract with Laban but eventually the discord between them becomes so great Jacob flees with his household. The parsha ends with the curious incident of Laban’s gods.
Is Money Earthly or Heavenly?
Most people recognize life and death are spiritual matters. And since sickness may cause death, it too falls into the spiritual category. But money is the essence of the physical world. Right?
Consider: In heaven, there is no death. It exists only because we inhabit a physical world. Our souls exist in heaven. But without the counterpoint of death to distinguish it, life has no meaning there.
But your deeds exist in both this world and heaven. G-d is intensely interested in how you behave and treat His creation, especially other people. As a factor in your actions, money impacts Earth and heaven.
The Place of Comfort
In the above verse, the Hebrew word for place is makom. Not coincidentally, G-d is called Hamakom, literally, “the Place.” Jacob encounters both a location and the Almighty. Each name by which G-d is known expresses an attribute. In this case, Hamakom denotes His involvement with tragedy.
When comforting a mourner, we say, “Hamakom y’nacheim eschem,” literally, “May the Place comfort you.” Likewise, we encourage a sick person by saying, “Hamakom y’racheim alecha,” “May the Place have mercy on you.” As concepts tied to this world, comfort for death and sickness is found in physical places that embody the Almighty: a cemetery, the home of a mourner, or a hospital.
Where does one find comfort during financial hardship? We say to such a person, “Hamakom y’malei hasroincha,” “May the Place replace your loss.” Like your home, when tragedy strikes G-d can be found in your place of business, if your work honors Him and serves His children.
As the tie between this world and the World to Come, the place of comfort when money worries weigh on your spirit is the Place.
Question – Where do you seek comfort from setbacks at work? Please leave a comment below.
Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.
What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!