Asking for the Basics by Mordechai Gilbert


While Yaakov sleeps on his way to Charan, he has a Nevuah in which Hashem assures him a great legacy.  Hashem promises Yaakov that he won’t abandon him as long as he follows the Torah.  When Yaakov wakes up, he immediately builds a Mizebach.  He even changes the name of the city in which he slept to Beit El, House of Hashem, because of his prophecy.  Yaakov seems to be taking his Nevuah very seriously and excitedly.  Why, then, does Yaakov immediately request food and clothes from Hashem?  In this holy time, why was this concern significant to Yaakov?

If we analyze Yaakov’s request, we can come to an answer which also teaches us an important lesson.  When Yaakov asks for food and clothing, his words are (28:20), “Lechem LeEchol UVeged LiLbosh,” “Food to eat, and clothes to wear.”  Why does Yaakov need to say why he needs these items - we are well aware of the purposes of food and clothing!

Perhaps, Yaakov is asking for clothes and food not for his own enjoyment, but because these are basic staples of life.  He asks for food to eat and clothing to wear, but doesn’t care or intend to derive pleasure from these things.  Yaakov isn’t interested in the material aspects of life; rather, he is concerned only with getting by simply and minimally in physical terms.

We should follow Yaakov’s example.  He had all necessary physical aspects of life and thought he had “Kol” (33:11).  We have more bread than we need to survive, but we waste time and money trying to get more than we truly need.  If we were less concerned with Gashmiut and more focused on our spiritual aspects, we would be able to improve ourselves and reach higher levels of spiritual purity. 

Use It Well by Yitzchak Richmond

The Journey of Yaakov Avinu by Willie Roth