Genesis -‘Vayeitzei’: The Artists Way

Hashem is the ultimate Artist. During our lifetime, we see one fragment of the master piece

milky way, human, lake

Yaakov awakens from his prophetic vision  and made a vow “ ושבתי בשלום אל בית אבי והיה ד לי לאלוקים ”-  and I will return in peace to my father’s house and Hashem will be a G-d to me..

Rashi on this posuk comments  that His name will rest upon me from beginning to end.

The medrash  states  that Hakadosh Baruch Hu took the discussions of the Avos and  transformed  them into the key for  the geulah of his children. Said Hakadosh Baruch Hu “You (Yaakov) stated : והיה ד לי לאלוקים” by your life all the tovos and brachos and nechamos that I give to your children I will only give in this language…. And it will be on that day that  the great shofar will be blown.

The Sefas Emes offers a majestic explanation of this cryptic medrash. In reality any nechama that is in the hands of mankind is not a true consolation since its main purpose it to ensure that the tzarah should be merely forgotten,  Hashem on the other hand is the Baal Hanechamos . The reason for this is that in regards to Hashem nechama, consolation is something radically different in that He is able to console the individual by holding up a mirror and showing retrospectively that there never was a tzarah in the first place. What appeared at the time as a tzarah was in fact for the individuals ultimate benefit this is a true nechama. In the future when we will usher in the Geulah Sheleimah the  final redemption it will be revealed in  the eyes of all of humanity that  the catalogue of tragedies and persecution our darkest moments that have  beset our nation in exile  over the course of the millennia, were in fact for our ultimate benefit. In the future it will be clarified for us that Hashem never left our side and all the tzaros which appeared as bad were in reality for our long term benefit.

Rav Gedaliah Schorr avers that this notion is hinted to in the very first word that Yaakov stated in his vow. The word  והיה, the root   being “היה” refers to the past, yet with the letter vav preceding it,  the word is transformed from past to the future and therefore all the prophecies concerning the redemption are written in this form since at the time of the  future redemption it will be revealed to us the sorrow of golus was truly for our benefit.

With this remarkable insight we can understand the posuk in In Devarim ( 4/)  ki mi goy gadol asher lo elokim kerovim elav  kehahsem elokenu  bechol karenu elav- for which is  a great nation that has a G-d close to it as is Hashem our G-d  whenever we call to Him. In describing the close relationship enjoyed between the klal yisrael  and Hahsem, the posuk employs the term Elokim which is middas hadin the  attribute of strict justice, thereby  underscoring  the fact that even when Hashem is forced to exercise His attribute of strict justice in relation to our people He is still close to us and we are close to Him. It is all performed for our ultimate benefit and underlying the attribute of justice is Hashem really acting in a compassionate and merciful manner towards us despite appearances to the contrary at the time we experience the hardship. For this reason we find it expressed in Tehillim that retrospectively at the time of the redemption we will see everything in the correct perspective and appreciate it was all for our benefit and thus the idea that we suffered in exile will be reappraised and  determined as “hayinu kecholmim” it was like a dream something that is unreal that had no basis.

This principle to recognise that we are only seeing and experiencing one fragment in the cosmic  picture  being painted and cannot expect to comprehend the true chesed that Hashem performs in every aspect of our lives is reflected in an idea from Shmuel.  The  posuk says  איו צור כאלוקנו- Rashi famously commented  אין צייר כאלוקנו  there is no artist like Hashem.

Rav Shraga Feivel Mendelovitz- explained the idea of Hashem being an Artist by way of a moshul There was once a king who commissioned the greatest artist alive to create a master piece for him. The artist agreed on condition that during the six months that he would be working no one was permitted to view the canvas. After two months the king became impatient and in the middle of the night the king secretly viewed the picture but to his shock and horror it looked a mess with smudges of paint across it .The next day furious  he called in the artist and demanded an explanation. The artist explained that a true masterpiece has different shades and textures and one cannot appreciate it until it is completed. After six months the king was invited to a viewing and was amazed at its beauty he now was able to see the colours in the correct perspective and appreciate that what had appeared earlier as smudges were in fact shadows from the beautiful sun shining down on the trees and now he was able to see a true master piece in all its glory.

This is the meaning of Hashem being the ultimate Artist, we view during our lifetime’s one fragment of the master piece being created over six thousand years and like the king in the moshol we become frustrated at not understanding it.

May we be zocheh to experience the geulah shelemah when we will appreciate that Hashem is the Baal Hanechamos.

Published by Rabbi Piny Hackenbroch

Rabbi Piny Hackenbroch is currently the Senior Rabbi in Woodside Park Synagogue – a modern orthodox thriving community of some 1,400 members. His innate love for people and his empowering brand of leadership make him a well-loved figure in Woodside Park & London.

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