Gleaned from the Sfas Emes

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Parshas Vayeitzei

A Tzadik's Splendor

Ya'akov takes flight to escape Esavís wrath, heading for Charan...

"And Ya'akov departed from Be'ersheva and went towards Charan." (28:10)

The verse could have stated simply "And Ya'akov went towards Charan," since we know that he was in Be'ersheva (see B'reishis, 26:23). But this teaches us that a tzadik's departure from a place makes an impression. When the tzadik is there, he is its majesty, he is its splendor, he is its glory. When he leaves, its majesty is gone, its splendor is gone, its glory is gone. (Rashi)

Rashi writes that a tzadik's departure makes an impression. Yet what impression remains if the city's majesty, splendor, and glory are gone, and everything is as it was before he came?

A tzadik radiates holiness, imprinting it wherever he goes. But, when a tzadik is in a city, his majesty, splendor, and glory outshine any qualities the place may have. Amid the brightness of Ya'akov Avinu's holiness, what other splendor could Be'ersheva project? Ya'akov alone was the city's majesty, splendor, and glory. Only after he left Be'ersheva - and his majesty, splendor, and glory were gone - was his imprint noticeable. Only then did the city itself radiate the majesty, splendor, and glory he'd impressed upon it. Be'ersheva could radiate the majesty, splendor, and glory which the tzadik impressed upon it only after he left. Because when he was there, the tzadik's own holiness outshone all other illuminations. (Sfas Emes Vayeitzei, 5636)

We often loose sight of the value in objects, because of the overwhelming value of more precious objects. The Bais Yisroel, zt"l, (Gerrer Rebbe, d. 1977) distributed charity secretly, so that recipients had no idea who the giver was. But one man, though near starvation, refused charity. How could the Rebbe help this person?

Yom Tov was approaching. The Bais Yisroel bought a new satin kapote and instructed the gabbai to give the old one to the poor man. The man was honored to receive the holy shiraim and thought to wear it on the coming Yom Tov.

Once it became known that he had the Rebbe's kapote, however, he was offered for it for a handsome price. True, he wouldn't be wearing the kapote, but now he would have food.

While the Bais Yisroel wore the kapote, who noticed its holiness? There was the saintly Gerrer Rebbe to be seen. Only when the garment was given away - so the Rebbe's saintliness no longer outshone it - only then was its value, its holiness, apparent.


"Gleaned From the Sfas Emes"- excerpts adapted from a soon to published book, G-d Willing, by Simcha Leib Grossbard.Rabbi Grossbard is author of "The Sfas Emes Haggadah"(Targum Press) and "Kasheleg Yalbinu", a two volume (Hebrew) work based on Sfas Emes.


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