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‘Are you Serious?’

By Rabbi Jonathan Tawil

How do you act when your spouse complains?

Some people are calm and collected, others are quick to fight back, but all agree that in the end the best way to approach complaints is to try and get a deeper understanding as to where they are emanating from.

Show a bit of compassion, and the rest of the day will be much easier!
What’s surprising is that when Rachel was unable to have a child for so long, she approaches Yakov and beseeches him to help her bring children to this world.

The Midrash elaborates and states that Rachel asked Yakov to pray for her.
Didn’t your father Yitschak pray for his wife? Why are you not praying for me?
Yakov replied that his father Yitschak was different. In his fathers’ case, he never had any children, and therefore prayed. But in Yakov’s case, he had children already from Leah. Therefore Rachel was told she shouldn’t compare the two cases!
This seems like a harsh response from such a righteous man as Yakov.
Is this how he really dealt with issues in the house?

The Midrash in Shir Hashirim brings the story of a couple that could not have children for ten years. They approached Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, and said that sadly although they both loved each other dearly, there was no option left for them other than to divorce. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai answered that they should go ahead with their decision, but before they get divorced they should have a party. Just like you married with a celebration, you should separate with a celebration. “Make it just as big as the wedding!” he told them.
They were confused, but rushed to implement the Rabbis orders.
Within a short time they were ‘celebrating’ their divorce. Many people attended, and the food and drink were plenty. Near the end of the evening, the husband showed his love of his wife by telling her that it would be his honour if she would take back home with her any item from his house.

Perhaps she would take a gold vase, or the treasured pottery set?
He drank away the evening and expected to go back to his parents house that night.
The next morning, he was shocked to find himself in his wife’s parent’s house.
He had a bit of a memory lapse as to what happened that night and came to his wife to ask her why he was in their house?
She answered that when he told her to take whatever she wanted to, she immediately decided to take him – he was the most precious thing in that house.

Now confused, they both went back to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.
He smiled and said to them you are now ready to have a child. You have shown extra love for each other. He blessed them and nine months later they were blessed with a child.
The Midrash continues and states if only we would appreciate Hashem and show a special love like this couple, we too would merit the Geula.

This Midrash is fascinating and with it we will answer the original question. But first a final piece to the jigsaw.

When Yakov set out on his journey to Charan, it was long and surely not simple.
Our Sages explain that when he arrived in Charan, he realised that he had passed by the Holy Place in which his father had experienced the Akeida. His heart was full of regret as to how he dared pass such a Holy site and not pay his respects and pray.
He decided full heartedly that he would go all the way back, just so that he could pray at that place.
What a decision to make! There were no aeroplanes, no buses, and Yakov seemingly didn’t even have any animals to help him on his way. All he had was a mere stick (Ki BemakliAvartiEtHayarden).

How would we have reacted?
How many excuses would we have given ourselves just to feel good?
Yakov was different; he knew that what was desired of him was to go back. That was the correct thing, and even if he had to travel for days or weeks all the way back to Yerushalayim and then back again to Charan – so be it!
What an expression of great character. That was Yakov.
Hashem saw this, and in turn made a miracle – Yakov had KefitsatHaderech (Ramban), and arrived there very quickly.
Miracles are hard to come by. People search the world for solutions. But with the correct outlook, the secret to success has already been taught!

Yakov was sincere; he was really going to go all that way back.
Why? Because he believed in Hashem and the importance of prayer and gratitude in a Holy place.
We see that when we are sincere and we have servitude of Hashem as a top priority in our life, Hashem responds miraculously.
This is the deeper meaning of the above mentioned Midrash:
If only we really believed in Hashem and showed our Love for Him, we would immediately witness the Geula!
Now we can understand what Yakov was saying to his barren wife – Rachel.
It was as if he was saying:

“My father didn’t have children, he prayed together with Rivka with earnest. They both knew deep down that only Hashem could help.
Rachel, the problem with you is that you are relying on my prayer. You need to approach prayer with the same sincerity I did many years earlier, just before I ever met you and I was transformed back to Yerushalayim. Don’t rely on me, I already have children, therefore your deep prayer will be much more acceptable and breed success.”
At the outset of building a family, our great forefather Yakov put into motion the secret to SiataDishmaya – Heavenly Help.
A sincere heart, conviction and complete belief can take you through mountains and back.
What about us? Let’s do a belief check from time to time and reenergise. Focus on Hashem’s love and we will breed success.

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