OU Torah Insights ProjectParshat Vayetze
The Torah is described as having seventy faces, as Hashem designed the Torah to be understood on many different levels. In fact, we are told that the Torah is a pardeis, an orchard, a Hebrew acronym standing for pshat (the plain meaning), remez(the implied meaning), drush (the scholarly meaning) and sod (the hidden meaning).
In our quest to understand the vast depths of Torah, we most often delve into the implied, scholarly, and hidden meanings. But in doing so we sometimes overlook the simple explanations.
In Parshas Veyeitzei, we are told, "And Yaakov departed Beer Sheva and traveled toward Charan. Rashi elaborates: "When a tzaddik lives in a city, he is its glory, splendor and beauty. When he departs, its glory, splendor, and beauty depart with him."
Rashis simple explanation teaches a deep and essential lesson in the foundations of human relationships.
When we have someone great in our midst we sometimes fail to appreciate his or her full value. Only when that person is no longer with us do we pine over the loss. Whether that person is a parent , a spouse, a child or a friend, we often forget to disclose our feelings until it is too late.
One of the most heart- rending moments in a rabbis professional life comes when a family that has experienced a loss sits with the rabbi to prepare the funeral. Family members will use very affectionate terms in describing their beloved.
I often wonder if these same glowing words were ever communicated to the deceased during his lifetime.
What can be said or done on a regular basis so as not to forget what we have in our midst? For the answer, some drush is in order.
In the Shema, we are commanded to serve Hashem "with all you heart, with all your soul, and with all your means." "With all your heart", says the Sefas Emes, is reminiscent of Rosh Hashanah, a time when we open our hearts and approach Hashem with humility; "with all your soul" is a reminder of Yom Kippur, when the Torah commands each of us to "afflict our soul" through fasting; and "with all your means" is representative of Succos, when we buy material possessions such as the lulav and esrog to fulfill Hashems commandments.
So why wait for Yizkor to remember and appreciate our loved ones. Why wait for the High Holy Days to develop a relationship with Hashem. By reciting the Shema on a daily basis and digging a bit deeper into its words, we can enhance our perspective on the things that matter most.
Rabbi Meir Rosenberg
Rabbi Rosenberg is rabbi of Congregation Ohev Tzedek in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.