June 24, 2024
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God Helps Those Who Help Themselves

Take a moment and think, when you are in danger or trouble, what do you do? Do you call someone? Do you try to distance yourself from reality? Do you take action? Do you pray to God? Or do you do something completely different?

In Parshat Vayishlach, Yaakov is filled with fear that his brother Eisav is coming to kill him now that his father has passed away. Instead of trying to run away from this trouble, Yaakov does two things. First, Yaakov takes action and sends messengers with gifts to Eisav. Yaakov also splits his family into camps to ensure that one camp will be able to escape if needed. The second thing that Yaakov did was pray and call out to his Father, Hashem. Yaakov both took action himself and prayed to God, but why didn’t Yaakov pray first and take action later? Even more so, why did Yaakov need to take action when he knew he was going to pray to God?

While God can do anything, relying on a miracle is not something that we are supposed to do. We aren’t supposed to wait for God to do something like split the sea. Miracles that are above nature aren’t supposed to be expected and if we want them, we must deserve them. Yaakov needed to do his part for God to help. By first putting in the effort to try and stop Eisav from attacking and then praying to God, Yaakov is saying I understand that I need to try but I also understand that everything is up to You.

In life, we may sometimes think, it’s fine, God will handle it. Or, we may think the complete opposite—look at what I have accomplished and not give God any credit. We must realize that the things we accomplish in life are a group effort. We are partners and work with God to try and achieve goals. The next time you need help, put in the effort and open a door for God to help you, because once you show you are trying, God will be able to help. As my great grandfather, z”l would always say, “God helps those who help themselves.”

By Shira Sedek

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