Former Shaliach in Greater Washington
Bitachon-which translates as confidence or trust- is one of Judaism’s best known virtues, and one which our sages refer to and deal with extensively. Bitachon is the Confidence/Trust in G-d to lead us on the right path and ensure that we are being taken care of.
There are two main doctrines regarding how to approach the virtue of Bitachon. The first is ascribed to the “Chovat Halevavot”. His approach is that each person has to do his utmost and not rely on G-d’s miracles. The other approach belongs to The Ramban who teaches that you have to put your whole trust in G-d. These two approaches seem to be in total contradiction and can’t stand together.
The Grandfather from Novardok provides a solution to this seeming contradiction. He claims that the two different approaches are for two different kinds of people. Regular people have to do their utmost and not just sit around and wait for a miracle from G-d. But Talmidei Chachamim have to take the other approach, and put their full trust in Hashem.
In Yaakov’s actions, in this Parsha and the previous ones as well, we can see how he puts his trust in Hashem completely. When Yaakov is leaving home, not knowing what to expect or what is going to happen, he still continues to trust that Hashem will guide him. The Midrash tells us that the Pasuk –“esay einay el heharim…” – I lift my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth” relates to Yaakov when he leaves Be’er Sheva. The Beit Halevi explains this Pasuk to mean that Yaakov’s Bitachon virtue goes so far that not only does he have complete trust in Hashem but he also doesn’t question how Hashem will help and guide him, he is just completely confident it will happen.
In our Parsha we see that Yaakov abandoned this virtue, and upon straying from this position of complete trust he brought danger upon himself. We know about the hatred that Eisav feels for Yaakov which forces Yaakov to flee from their home. This hatred is so rampant that it even goes so far as to see Eisav promise to murder Yaakov as soon as their father passes away. Yet, Yaakov is still going with all his family towards Eisav and even sends emissaries towards him.
Because of this action, it is said in Midrash Raba that Yaakov got involved in a fight that was not his. Eisav was just walking on his way, he didn’t know that Yaakov was there and didn’t expect to meet him. But once emissaries came to him, he changed his direction and moved towards Yaakov with 400 men with the intent to fight. We even see from Eisav’s actions that he wasn’t impressed with the presents that Yaakov sent him as Eisav was still advancing his way after the emissaries came back. Eisav with his army could have taken everything and not just the presents that Yaakov gave him.
Yaakov sent the emissaries to try and please Eisav, but the Midrash says that he should have continued with the virtue of complete trust in Hashem and not try independently to solve the problem. If he would have continued with the virtue of his level, all of this could have prevented.