Monday, August 2, 2010

A Special Visit

Our sages tell us that after Yaakov reached Charan he regretted not having davened at the place where Avraham and Yitzchak had prayed, so he decided to return. The Chidushei HaRim, zt”l, addresses this teaching with a pointed question. “How could Yaakov Avinu, the bechir ha’avos, miss such an obvious opportunity to daven at the holiest place in the world?”
His answer highlights a very practical lesson. “Yaakov Avinu was a true tzaddik and understood that when he was passing by the makom hamikdash on his way to Charan, a random visit was not the right way to visit the holiest site in the world. He knew that such a holy place should merit its own exertion. It was therefore not spiritually valuable for him to just make a short stop over on the way to Charan. He preferred instead to first pass it by and arrive at his destination and only then to turn back and make a special journey to this most holy place.”
He concludes that every person should learn from this. Many chassidim did not visit when passing their rebbes or great tzaddikim on their business travels and the like. Instead, they preferred to visit the rebbe on a special visit when the only purpose of their trip was to see the tzaddik.
Nevertheless, it should be pointed out that a person must know himself truly and determine if he is on a sufficiently high level to implement this kind of advice. As the Chovos Halevavos, zt”l, points out, the yetzer likes to use a person’s desire to do a mitzvah perfectly to prevent him from doing anything. For example, although it is better to do a mitzvah in private, sometimes a person will refrain from doing a mitzvah publicly but will also not have the strength of will to do it privately, despite his good intentions. The same is true in this case.

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