PARSHAT VA’YETZE: THREE THINGS SUSTAIN THE WORLD: TORAH, AVODA AND GEMILUT CHASADIM
By Sherrie B. Miller
“Jacob departed from Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. He encountered the place
and spent the night there because the sun had set; he took from the stones of the
place which he arranged around his head, and lay down in that place….Jacob arose
early in the morning and took the stone that he placed around his head and set it
up as a pillar;” (Breishit 28:10,18)
When referring to the stone Jacob placed beneath his head to sleep, the text begins
with the plural, “stones,” but a few verses later it ends with the singular, “stone.”
When Jacob originally prepared for sleep, he took 3 stones, according to the Midrash,
to lay his head on. When he arose, we read that in fact it was one stone.
How can this be?
Rashi questions this discrepancy and attempts to resolve it.
Rashi, quoting the Midrash asserts that each of the stones fought to be the one
to serve Jacob. Each wanted to provide him with comfort, which would enhance Jacob’s
sleep. Even inanimate rocks are depicted with the sensitivity to offer themselves
totally in service of this great Tzaddik.
Through the Midrash we learn that due to this sublime act of selflessness and complete
desire to serve another, Hashem blessed them with the ultimate blessing of unity
the hallmark of G-d himself. The three stones became one and possess an increased
power as the adage says: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
The three stones represent the whole foundation of Judaism: Torah, Avoda (Service)
and Acts of Kindness. When they are united into one with no relic of hatred, jealousy
or competition, our achievements are limitless and we can reach the stars!
So what seems to be stifling our present generation? What has changed so drastically
in the past few generation?
To quote the illustrious Rav Yissaschar |Frand, we are living in the generation
of the “Me-llenium.” The famous psychologist Abraham Maslow taught that the pinnacle
of humanity is “self-actualization.” It’s all about Me!
The value of giving has turned into “gimme, gimme, gimme.” (A Berenstein’s bear
The gift of affluence is a double edged sword, one that can be used for heartfelt
giving, or one with great expectations of accruing more and more possessions for
my self. The change of food names clearly illustrates this notion. Once upon a time,
foods used to be called: rugelach (lach means for you), krep-lach, kneid-lach; today
it’s bisli, (li means for me) kefli etc….
When we transfer our attention away from our problems and ourselves and focus on
helping and giving to others, we attain much greater satisfaction and inspiration
in life. Mother Teresa once said: “I have found the paradox that if I love until
it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.”
Dating for marriage is the time to note and assess one’s ability to sacrifice and
give up something that I value to benefit someone else. This might be your time,
your talents, your energy, money or even your blood. Rav Kavas emphasized this point
by the reaction of his Rav to his engagement. His Rav wanted to know if the Rav
Kavas was prepared to die for his soon to be wife. Quite stunned by the question,
the Rav Kavas understood that the tingly attraction and feeling of love, was not
what would sustain his marriage forever, but rather his ability to serve and make
sacrifices for the well being of the marriage. It’s been said “if you have nothing
that you are willing to die for then you have nothing to live for!”
Sacrifice means not feeling resentful or keeping score; sacrifice is a mechanism
that enables us to achieve real closeness, real and complete unity. Sacrifice means
that I expect nothing in return and I give to you with no strings attached. This
type of giving requires a developed level of maturity.
This is the reason for the centrality of korbanot in our faith. Karov, close, comes
from the word korban. It is a simulation of self-sacrifice: I place an animal on
the alter in my stead whom I identify with. G-d doesn’t want us to cease being,
but rather longs to re-unite with us and return to the original state of oneness
Marriage is the only framework within which this can be achieved. “And man shall
cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh.” Dating is a time to evaluate the
three foundations of Judaism in our selves and in a potential spouse: one’s commitment
to Torah values, one’s ability to serve Hashem, (avoda is service as well as worship
of G-d) and one’s proclivity for doing deeds of kindness. This is done through actions,
words, thoughts and material gifts.
If we can put theses necessary steps first and focus on giving rather than receiving,
we will be on the road to a loving and lasting marriage!
Sherrie B. Miller is a Jewish Matchmaker
on SawYouAtSinai.com and works with
Jewish Singles all over the world. She is an educational guidance counselor,
group leader, pre-marital coach, matchmaker and Judaic Studies teacher. Sherrie
is dedicated to promoting and enhancing emotional intelligence and communication
skills in conjunction with Torah values.
Sherrie received her educational counseling degree from the Michlalah in Bayit Vegan
and an M.A. in Education and Counseling from Touro College, Jerusalem, Israel. Sherrie
also holds a B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Brooklyn College and a
B.Sc. from Yeshiva University in Jewish Education. Sherrie is certified by Midreshet
Emunah and is accredited by the Rabbanut of Israel, to be a pre-marital couple’s
counselor and Kallah teacher.
Before coming to Israel in 1989 from Great Neck, New York, Sherrie taught Judaic
Studies at the North Shore Hebrew Academy. Sherrie also educated affiliated and
unaffiliated adults through the “Project Identity” outreach program under the directorship
of Rabbi Yaakov Lerner. Sherrie trained individuals and couples in the laws of Kashrut,
Guidelines of Parenting, Parshat Shavua and Pirkei Avot.
In her work as a Guidance Counselor in the national religious “Mamad” school, "Yehuda
Halevi", Sherrie instructed life skill workshops to students, parents and teachers,
with a focus on communication, conflict resolution and anger management. She also
leads support groups for children of divorce.
Sherrie is certified by the Life Center and leads Parenting workshops based on the
Faber/Mazlish workshops on, “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids
Sherrie is an executive board member of the Emunah World Zionist Organization, Mibreishit,
led by Rav Motti Alon, and Nishmat led my Rabbanit Hanna Henkin.
Sherrie’s diverse background in counseling and teaching, combined with torah principles
and values contribute to the depth and quality of her success with clients. Lessons
drawn from her own life transitions make her coaching perspective uniquely inspirational.
Sherrie helps individuals clarify their goals and take masterful action steps to
reach them. Sherrie is professionally known for her guidance in the educational
system as well as her outstanding capabilities teaching interpersonal relationship
skills to groups and individuals.
Having made a number of successful matches resulting in marriage, Sherrie volunteers
as a matchmaker for SawYouAtSinai, an internet matchmaking site.