Impressions of a Tsaddik

It says that Yaakov Avinu
left Be’er Sheva and went to Charan. Why does it say, vayatzay, and he
left? It could have just said that Yaakov went to Charan, and we would have
known that he left Be’er Sheva. Rashi explains that it teaches a lesson—that
as long as the tsaddik is in the city, the city retains its ziv,
its hod and its hadar; when he departs, the ziv, hod and
depart with him.

First, let’s understand why we are taught this here, in this
parasha. Why wasn’t it taught when Avraham left Charan? It could have said, vayeitzey
Avraham miCharan
. And what does it mean that when a tsaddik leaves,
all these things leave with him? Doesn’t he leave any impression on the city?
Doesn’t something remain there?

To answer the first question: There is a special lesson
taught here: That even though there were two tsaddikim left in the city—Yitzchak
and Rivkah—still Yaakov’s leaving made an impression. Every tsaddik is
unique. Each one has a unique contribution to make, and therefore, even though
there are other tsaddikim left, each one that leaves makes an impression.

What is the concept of ziv, hod and hadar? The Maharal
and others explain that ziv is the enlightenment that the tsaddik
imparts to a place by the Torah he teaches. Hod is the mitzvos
that he teaches, which gives a person glory. Hadar is the beauty of midos
tovos. So, when the tsaddik leaves those qualities also leave.

But this does not mean that when he leaves, there’s no more
enlightenment, nothing left in the city. It would speak very poorly of what the tsaddik
accomplished while he was there, if it all left with him. However, Rashi doesn’t
say yatzah zivah; rather, he says panah
zivah. Panah means that it turned aside. It’s not the same. The
Gemorah says that a person should always live where his rebbe lives, because as
long as Achiha HaShiloni was alive, Shlomo HaMelech didn’t marry Bas Pharaoh.
The tsaddik’s presence makes a difference. When he’s there physically,
and you actually see him, the influence is much stronger. When he leaves, it
turns aside. It’s not the same as before.

Now when the tsaddik leaves the city, what happens?
Something negative. So why does Rashi say that it’s oseh roshem—it
makes an impression? That’s a positive statement. He should have said that it
covers up or takes away an impression, not that it makes an impression. When a tsaddik
leaves a city, it doesn’t make anything; it removes something that was

This parasha, Vayeitzey, is the parasha of sheifah,
aspiration. It says that Yaakov Avinu passed by the Makom HaMikdash,
and then almost reaching Charan, said “Oy vey, I passed by the place where my
forefathers davened, and I didn’t daven there.” So HaShem gave him kevitzas
haderech, which means that he either returned in the twinkling of an eye
to the Makom HaMikdash, or that it was brought to him.

Wouldn’t it have been easier for HaShem, instead of moving
mountains or making him go faster, to just tap Yaakov on the shoulder as he was
going by the Makom HaMikdash, and say to him “Hey, Yaakov, there’s
the Makom HaMikdash. Why don’t you go in there and daven?” After
all, he wanted to daven there, he just forgot. Why did He wait until Yaakov
reached Charan?

The answer is that when a person does something without
aspiring towards it, without wanting it, the effect is minimal. When you want
something, when you aspire towards it, and then you do it—then the effect is
tremendous. Had Yaakov not wanted to daven there, had he not had the aspiration,
then his davening there would have been minimal. But if you want it, you’re
aspiring, you have a sheifah—then it’s worth moving mountains.

My Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Gifter, shlita, said that we find
this in many gemoros. “A person who wants to be a chassid,
should learn avos…nezikin…brochos…A person who wants to be wise,
should daven towards the south. Why does the gemora waste words? Why doesn’t it
just say, "One who faces south becomes wise? One who learns avos,
and brochos, will become a chassid?" Why do we
need the preface, “Whoever wants to be…” The Rosh Yeshiva said that you
could do these things for the rest of your life and you won’t become anything,
unless you want to be something. For you have to want to be a chassid.
Then if you do these things, you’ll become a chassid or a chacham.
But if you don’t have any such aspirations, nothing will ever come of it.

What did Yaakov see in his dream? A ladder standing on the
earth and reaching to the heavens. You have to have the greatest aspirations.

A person can know from his dreams what his aspirations are.
Yaakov wanted to know what his aspirations were. He couldn’t go to Lavan’s house
without the right aspirations. Otherwise, he could get lost there. When he saw
the dream of the ladder, he felt confident in going to Lavan’s house.

When a tsaddik isn’t in a city, there’s no ziv, no
no hadar; but nobody recognizes that anything is missing. This
is the status quo, the way they think it should be. When the tsaddik
comes to the city and adds these qualities, and then he leaves, does everything
revert to the way it was before? No. Because now the ziv, hod and hadar
are missing, as before, but the difference is that now you know that it’s
missing. People feel that there’s something missing, and they aspire to get it
back. Once you’ve had it and you’ve lost it, it’s not the same thing as not
having it to begin with. Now you feel you’re missing something. Now there’s an
aspiration. In that way, the tsaddik’s departure is oseh roshem,
because now people aspire to regain the ziv, hod and hadar that he
brought with him. That’s a positive thing.

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