Sharona Margolin Halickman

Strength during the war

Photo Courtesy Sharona Halickman

As we read about Yaakov and Rachel’s relationship in Parshat Vayetzei, this is a good opportunity to talk about Yaakov’s inner strength when he meets Rachel.

The story of the first time that Yaakov sees Rachel is in Breisheet 29:9-12:

While Yaakov was still speaking with the shepherds, Rachel came with her father’s flock—for she was a shepherdess. When Yaakov saw Rachel, the daughter of Lavan, his mother’s brother, with the sheep of Lavan, his mother’s brother, he stepped near and rolled the stone from the mouth of the well. He then watered the sheep of Lavan, his mother’s brother. Yaakov kissed Rachel and cried in a loud voice. Yaakov told Rachel that he was a relative of her father, that he was the son of Rivka. She ran and told her father.

The stone that Yaakov rolled off the mouth of the well was not an ordinary stone. It was huge. Usually all of the shepherds had to remove it together.

According to Ramban, the Torah tells this story at length in order to let us know that “They that wait for the Eternal shall renew their strength.” (Yishayahu 40:31)

The fear of God gives strength.

Ramban continues: Yaakov is coming from the journey and he is tired. Yet he alone rolls away the stone, a task which required all the shepherds. The many shepherds and all the watchmen of the three flocks of sheep could not shift the rock.

Yaakov had an inner strength that he didn’t even know that he had in order to accomplish the extraordinary.

On October 7, we saw a tremendous amount of strength from our soldiers as well as from civilians. Although the soldiers didn’t even know what exactly was happening in the south, they went down and fought as best that they could, killing many terrorists. The soldiers focused on what they needed to and got the job done. Somehow they found their inner strength like Yaakov did and saved many lives. Civilians as well helped get as many people out of harm’s way as possible by driving participants away from the party or by protecting the people who they were with in the shelters. Without their strength many more lives would have been lost.

As we recite the blessings upon arising in the morning- we should add special kavana, intent when we say: Baruch Atah HaShem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam HaNoten Layaef Koach, Blessed are You, Hashem our God, King of the Universe, Who gives strength to the weary.

May we learn from Yaakov and from our brave soldiers to look for our inner strength and may we all have the energy to get through this war and overcome all of the challenges that we are facing.

As we recite in Tehillim 29:11:

HaShem Oze L’Amo Yiten, HaShem Yivarech et Amo BaShalom, May God give strength to His people; May God bless His people with peace.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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