Home Subscribe Services Support Us
Print Version

Email this article to a friend


Rabbi Label Lam

There to Share

And Yaakov pledged an oath saying, "If You will protect me on the way that I am going and give me bread to eat and clothing to wear and return me to the house of my father and Hashem will be for me a G-d, then everything You give me I will tithe for You! " (Breishis 28:20)

Why does Yaakov ask for bread to eat and clothing to wear? What else does one do with bread and clothing? Does one wear bread and eat clothing? The infinitive form of the verb is entirely superfluous, or so it seems.

Secondly, if Yaakov is requesting a mere subsistence living, then what will there be left to tithe to fulfill the final condition of his personal pledge?

When my wife and I were engaged we went to visit a great person in our community to receive his blessing. As we approached his house, we noticed Rabbi Mordechai Schwabb ztl. had already stepped out and was walking quickly to Yeshiva. We went hastily to the corner where he would be crossing and met him there in full stride.

We greeted him and told him our special news. He lit up with enormous and genuine joy, and as he exulted, he repeated a phrase, a peculiar blessing, I later learned from close family was his own unique expression, "The simcha should be with simcha! Ah! Ah! Ah! The simcha should be with simcha!" He walked on excitedly.

We stood in stunned silence having experienced the personality of a real Tzadik. Afterwards, though, we were left with the riddle of that blessing, "The simcha should be with simcha!"

What did that mean? I was told as a kid not to define a word with the same word. Sure a rose is a rose is a rose. It had to mean something! As we walked and talked it became clear to the point that that phrase was our banner, our theme for the entire engagement and marriage process.

We realized that there is the noun, "the simcha", which includes a whole host of other nouns, such as the menu, the venue, the flowers, the gown, the booze, the band etc. Each one of those items has a price tag and requires some discussion as to how much one is willing to expend. Therefore each detail of the "simcha" is a trigger, a pressure point, potentially a pitfall for lasting pain and resentment too. Mazel Tov!

Then there is the attitude, the state of mind, called "simcha" that represents the inner world, the centerpiece of the experience. One need not be sacrificed at the expense of the other. Don't forget to revel in the true inner beauty of the occasion and not to let any of the details weigh down and destroy the true joy of the day.

Maybe we can understand that when Yaakov asked for bread to eat and clothing to wear he was not wasting words or anything else. Clothing can be for the practicalities of warmth and dignity or one can dress to impress or even "dress to kill".

How many people have gone into debt and been pushed to the precipice of insanity for the sake of an extravagant wedding, Bar-Mitzva, you name it? How much food and hard earned money is wasted for the sake of a reputation? How much good health and personal happiness is undone by unnecessary intake and indulgence in food-stuff?

To know the difference between what we "want" and what we really "need" is a sign of budding maturity. How uncomplicated and uncluttered our lives become when those powers of discernment are properly exercised.

When a healthy self-discipline is employed one takes only what's necessary. The little gifts of life are then appropriated in a blessed way, for the good that was originally intended. Residual resources are made more readily available to develop an inner world of joy and that leaves more and more of us there to share.

Text Copyright © 2002 Rabbi Label Lam and Project Genesis, Inc.



View Complete List

Nothing Wasted
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

Holy Kitchen, Holy Sidewalk, Holy Workplace
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

Faith Healer
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5774

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Rabbi Frand on Parshas Acharei Mos
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5765

Leaving a True Legacy Behind
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5771

The Divine Push
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5763


Motherhood & Shabbos Pie
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5759

Now Become Holy!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5770

The Command To 'Be Holy' Was Given In A Mass Gathering
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5765

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Not Just an Act of Kindness
Rabbi Moshe Peretz Gilden - 5766

Enjoyment as a Guide
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

More Power To You
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5763

> The Kedusha Infomercial
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

The Fundamental Rule
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5758

Why Is this Parsha Different From All Other Parshios?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5774

It Is Easier To Overcome Physical Pain Than To Suppress The Human Psyche
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5772

Project Genesis Home

Torah Portion

Jewish Law



Learn the Basics




Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base


About Us

Contact Us

Free Book on Geulah! Home Copyright Information