After our forefather Yaacov received the patriarchal blessing from his father Yitzchok in a seemingly manipulative fashion, the Torah tells us that Yitzchok realized that Yaacov, rather than Aisav, was indeed worthy, and the one deserving to receive the blessing.
Aisav was burning mad and decided to eventually kill Yaacov. Rivka was informed through prophecy about Aisav’s intentions and immediately instructed Yaacov to escape to her brother Lavan, who lived outside of Israel.
Rivka said, “Stay there ‘Yamim Achadim – a short while’, until Aisav’s wrath calms down.” Yaacov eventually made it to Lavan and wished to marry his daughter Rachel. Yaacov told Lavan he would work for him for seven years and then marry Rachel, and Lavan agreed to the deal.
The Torah tells us that the time that Yaacov worked were in his eyes like, ‘Yamim Achadim – a short time’ due to his love for her.
Rashi is quick to point out, that when Yaacov mentioned ‘Yamim Achadim’ in association with the seven years he was conveying what his mother meant when she said, ‘Yamim Achadim’; this was the amount of time it would take for Aisav’s full wrath to dissipate.
Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin o.b.m. points out, if Rachel was already old enough to get married at the time when Yaacov proposed to her, why did Yaacov specifically choose a seven-year engagement period?
Reb Zalman gives a thoughtful answer which is a lesson for sound relationships. Yaacov understood from his mother’s warning that he would be on AIsav’s wanted list for seven years. During these years, Yaacov would always be on the fearful lookout for Aisav’s possible attack. During this frightening time, Yaacov did not want to be married to Rachel and raise his family since the law is that if one of a couple is in a state of fright they should not have intimate relations, and if they do, the children born will be lacking in wisdom and piety.
Yaacov and Rachel’s intentions were to build their family into the pure, pious and wise 12 tribes of Israel. Yaacov therefore chose to wait until Aisav’s threat and fear would be behind him and then he could establish an effective and successful marriage in a tranquil, focused, confident and peaceful setting.
At times, people question, what their prayers, good words or deeds can accomplish.
I read a story of a student studying in a foremost Yeshiva in Israel who received a letter from the US containing an invitation to a wedding along with a voucher for an airline ticket to attend the wedding.
The recipient looked at the names of the groom and bride and they were both unfamiliar. He thought it was mistakenly addressed to him, so he called the number printed on the invitation.
The groom picked up and the recipient introduced himself and began telling the groom that he received an invitation and airline ticket by mistake. The groom explained that it was indeed his intention to invite him, and he told him the following.
“A few years back, I decided to travel from the US to Israel to enroll in a Yeshiva. I found it very difficult; I was unfamiliar with Ivrit and I also came alone without friends. After some time, I felt unproductive and decided to go back home to work in my family’s business.
“The day of my flight back home, I trudged down to the dining room for lunch. While I was there a student came over to me and fixed my collar and said something nice to me. At that moment I felt I was not alone with someone giving me the time of day. I began to see things a bit clearer and decided not to give up. I canceled the flight and pulled myself together and began studying intently and diligently and I developed into a fitting Torah student.
“You know who that person who gave me that uplift was? It was you! I am most appreciative of you for being the instrument to who I’ve developed into today! I therefore want you to join me in my momentous day!”
Trust in the Almighty:
Rabbi Yitzchok Elchonon Spector o.b.m. the Rabbi of Kovna was wont to repeat this story that he heard from the personal Jewish doctor of the Czar of Russia himself. He was once leaving the palace close to the onset of Shabbos, when a woman asked if he could come to her home and examine her sickly son.
The doctor went and immediately recognized that the boy was in the throes of death with really no hope. Out of compassion for the mother, he prescribed a medicine and instructed her to give him 4 drops every 17 minutes.
On Sunday as the doctor was about to enter the gates of Palace, there was the mother of the sickly child along with her son! The mother said she wanted to thank the doctor for helping her son out. The shocked doctor couldn’t believe the child made it. He asked the mother what she did? “I didn’t do exactly what you told me to do. Since it was right before the onset of Shabbos, I wasn’t sure if the pharmacy was open. I therefore took a bottle and filled it with water and I put your prescription inside. I prayed to G-d that the same way He makes medicine work, He should do the same with this. I followed your instructions and administered the requisite drops at the intervals you told me, and thank G-d it worked and my son got better!
Whenever we pray, we are placing this type of absolute trust in the Almighty!