Weekly Dvar Torah on the Parsha
November 17, 2017
“It all Starts from the Small Stuff”
In Parshas Vayeitzei, The Torah tells us that Leah had one son after another and Rochel remained barren. Finally, G-d remembered Rochel, He listened to her prayers and she gave birth to a son. We read “She conceived and bore a son, and she said, ‘G-d has gathered in my disgrace’ (30:23).” she calls her son Yosef.
Rashi first states that the simple interpretation of Rochel’s reference to “disgrace” is the fact that she was barren. Rashi cites a Medrash that a married woman without children suffers disgrace because she has no one to blame if something is broken or eaten in the house. When she has a child and something breaks or is eaten, she can hang the blame on the child and tell people that it was the fault of his child.
This Medrash is extremely difficult to comprehend. How could this be Rochel’s reaction to having a baby? Rochel earlier said to her husband, “Give me children – if not, I am dead!” [Bereishis 30:1] Her state of barrenness was so painful to her that she felt it would not be worth living if she remained in that state. So what should her reaction be upon finally having a son? Certainly, it not “Now I have someone to blame for the messy house and the eaten leftovers!” What is the meaning of “G-d has gathered in my disgrace”?
Let us share a thought based on the opening blessing of the 15 morning blessing we recite every single day of the year: ‘Blessed are You Hashem our G-d, King of the Universe who has given the rooster the understanding to distinguish between day and night.’
One might indeed wonder how this blessing merited such a distinguished place in the sequence of daily blessings. Is it more significant that “He Opens the eyes of the blind”? We could understand if the leadoff blessing would be one that thanked G-d for allowing us to walk, to be clothed, to stand up straight. Thanking G-d for the wisdom of a rooster would not seem to deserve such a high ranking in terms of the order of the morning blessings. What is the understanding?
Perhaps as follows: We as human beings have unbelievable intelligence. We are thinking creatures who can communicate and accomplish wondrous things with our intelligence. However, the first “drop of intelligence” in this world is a rooster who knows how to distinguish between day and night. Just like we do not thank G-d for 35 inches of annual rainfall – or whatever amount we need to grow our crops – or just like we don’t thank G-d for having a 130 IQ or the fact that we might be a successful brain surgeon or all the other amazing talents He’s blessed us with. We thank Him for the minutest amount of intelligence that we perceive in the world – the instinctual knowledge possessed by a rooster that the morning has arrived. All of the intelligence that He showered on the world begins with the rooster who has a brain the size of a nail, but can distinguish between day and night. Only then, will we be able to thank Him for the great blessing he showers us with. It all begins with recognizing the small things and gaining a recognition that Hashem controls everything from bringing up the son to the most difficult brain surgery!
This too is the expression of Rochel’s gratitude for now having someone to blame her household misdeeds when her Yosef was born. Certainly, she was overwhelmed with gratitude that she was no longer barren and was now able to have a child. However, her very first expression of gratitude was for even the minutest derivative benefit of this blessed event. “Now having someone to blame” was only the beginning of her thanks, it was not the full extent of her gratitude.
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