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וישא את קולו ויבך

And he raised his voice and wept. (29:11)

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Horav Yaakov Galinsky, Shlita, relates that he once visited the Steipler Gaon, Horav Yaakov Kanievsky, zl, and the Gaon’s countenance was illuminated. The Steipler was the essence of Torah, and, undoubtedly, this was Torah related – which it was. “Sit down; I want to share a chiddush, original thought, with you. When Avraham Avinu sent Eliezer to seek a wife for Yitzchak, he did not send him empty handed. The Torah details the wealth of gifts that Eliezer brought with him to ‘seal the deal.’ Clearly, Yitzchak Avinu sent his son with no less. Yet Yaakov Avinu bemoaned the fact that he came with nothing more than his makeil, walking stick. How are we to understand this? Rashi explains that Eisav had dispatched his son, Elifaz, in pursuit of Yaakov, with one mission: ‘kill my brother.’ When Elifaz caught up with Yaakov, he was faced with a quandary. On the one hand, he had his father’s mission to carry out. On the other hand, having been raised b’cheiko shel Yitzchak, in Yitzchak’s lap, he could not execute the deed. ‘What should I do concerning my father’s command?’ he asked Yaakov. ‘Take all my possessions. Since a poor man is considered like a dead man, you will have carried out your mission.’ Thus, Yaakov was left in abject poverty.

“Let us view this scenario in perspective. Elifaz was far from being a saint. He was morally profligate, having had relations with Timna, his father’s wife. After taking her as a pilegesh, concubine, their union produced Amalek, the archenemy of our people. Clearly his DNA was deficient. Yet, Yitzchak found reason to reach out to him, to the point that Rashi writes, godal b’cheiko shel Yitzchak.

“This is actually how Yitzchak saved Yaakov’s life, and, by extension, the entire Klal Yisrael. He raised Elifaz, and this early childhood influence made the difference!

“I have young, dejected students who come to me. They have been rejected by the system, having been dismissed from their yeshivah. Why? They acted inappropriately. How? They wasted time and did not occupy themselves with Torah study. They acted foolishly. Is this a reason to throw them into the street? Are we prepared to drown them in the river, to throw them in front of a speeding train? As long as they are not hurting anyone else, they should be allowed to remain in the yeshivah! Yitzchak raised Elifaz, and the benefit was that, instead of becoming a murderer, he became a thief!

“The Chazon Ish was wont to say that a yeshivah that dismisses a student who is not up to par with the school’s spiritual and academic standards is tantamount to a hospital that prematurely sends home a seriously ill patient. Rather he should die at home than at the hospital. It might hurt the hospital’s ‘numbers’. There is no concern for the patient – only for the hospital’s mortality record.”

This is a powerful lesson, especially in light of the numbers of young men and women who do not “fit” into the system. Every school wants to be the “mainstream A+” yeshivah or Bais Yaakov. To chas v’sholom keep a student that is not “perfect” would be bad for business. The school has standards; the parent body expects that these standards be upheld – until it happens to their own child. Then all the rules are suspended. Should not every Jewish child be considered like our own child?

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