The Company Man
Rabbi Yaacov Haber
What kind of Jew cuts a deal with G-d? What a chutzpah to say to G-d: I will behave; I will do Your will – IF – You promise to take care of me. The true servant of G-d, you would think, worships his Creator with unconditional servitude. He or she will do G-d’s will in the face of all adversity. From Job to Rabbi Akiva, to the great men and women who perished in the Holocaust or in the Israel Defense Forces, no one of integrity made bargains with the Master of the Universe. What G-d deems appropriate for our lives we are obliged to accept.
And then there was Yaakov. “Jacob took a vow: IF G-d will be with me and will guard me on the way that I am going; will give me bread to eat and clothes to wear; and I return in peace to my fathers house, and Hashem will be a G-d to me, … THEN I will tithe everything.” (28; 20) If all goes well, said Yaakov, I will give one tenth of my money to G-d, one tenth of my children (Levi) to G-d and even one tenth of my time to G-d. When we were children we learned, “If” is a small word with a very big meaning! Yaakov’s observance was conditional! Yaakov cut a deal with G-d!
The answer is that Yaakov is a company man. He was totally dedicated to working for G-d. He had no self, he had no personal interests, he only had a mission. His mandate was to build a Jewish nation. His mandate was to make the world more peaceful. His mandate was to make spirituality and G-d more a part of people’s lives so that they could more productively fulfill their mission in this world. Yaakov said to G-d: “I’m willing to give it everything I have – just keep me covered.” No one expects soldiers to supply their own guns or fighter jets, no one expects top executives to buy their own laptops, no one expects the mailman or the police force to buy their own uniforms – these are things that are needed for the job! There was no Yaakov – there was only his job. Yaakov needed G-d’s full financial and security support in order to be able to do his job. “For G-‘s sake – take care of me!”
We can do the same thing. Two people ask G-d for parnossa. One says, “IF I were a rich man – I wouldn’t have to work hard, I’d have a house with three sets of staircases etc.” This is a prayer for personal comfort – maybe it will be answered, maybe it won’t .“B’zechusa talya milsa” -- it depends on what we have going for us. The other says, “I’m totally dedicated to doing the right thing in life, I’m loyal to the cause of the Torah, I just need bread to eat and clothes to wear, but I’m on line. This prayer will definitely be answered. He’s Guaranteed. I’m praying for G-d.
Not only did Yaakov teach us a way to pray, he taught us a way to live. He taught us to live spiritually. He taught us to be dedicated to our children, to our community and to G-d’s world. And what’s more, he taught us that if we do that we could ask G-d for just about anything and He will deliver. Guaranteed.
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