“It’s not fair, it’s just not fair.”

Thursday, 8 December, 2022 - 5:06 am

“It’s not fair, it’s just not fair.” That’s what I thought and even told myself and whoever was willing to listen for the greater part of my youth. I looked around, and saw friends who had no problem getting up in the morning on time to get to Yeshiva, while for me it was an exhausting struggle. There were those who had no difficulty sitting in one place for two hours, and even listening to a shiur (class), while yours truly was born with shpilkes (Google it!). I have friends who did everything by the book, and I was trying to write my own original volume. The most annoying thing was, that everything that the yeshiva framework demanded came easily to them, and I just heard the word “frame” – and felt the limits of that frame constantly. Well, you have to admit that I was justified in saying that it wasn’t fair.

When I was eighteen years old or so, Volume 35 of the Likutei Sichot of the Rebbe was published. A new book from the Rebbe is the cause for much excitement, and like many of my friends I went through it right away (not “according to the book”, as was my habit, since I took time from other studies I was supposed to be engaged in). When I reached page 150, the section on parashat Vayishlach, I finally found some balm for my soul and an answer to my question.

The Rebbe divides the ways people operate in the world into two types: Rachel and Leah.

Rachel was beautiful; everyone was sure that she was intended for Yaakov, the tzaddik, who had chosen her and had worked hard for her. She symbolizes all those for whom it is easy to do things right and according to expectations. In short: avodat hatzaddikim (the way the righteous serve Hashem).

Leah was not referred to as a beautiful woman. Her eyes were soft from tears, because everyone said that she would marry the wicked Esav. In order to marry Yaakov she had to go through much sorrow, and unpleasantness in terms of her relationship with her sister. And besides that, she married someone who had not chosen to marry her. Leah symbolizes all those to whom nothing comes easily; who has to fight for everything. In short: avodat hateshuva (the way the ba’alei teshuva serve Hashem).

The Rebbe then goes on to say that every person is meant to serve according to his abilities. If you are like Rachel, and your service is that of tzaddikim, it is possible that your service is internal, working on yourself, working with people who are like you. You have to follow the beaten paths and stick close to the frameworks, and within them do the best you can, what only you, with your special beauty. know how to do.

But if you are a Leah type – serving through teshuva, it is possible that you should use your abilities to get through to the most difficult people, to leave the beaten path often, to find the good and the special in the difficulty and confusion. 

This reminds me what Bill Gates said once: when I look for workers, I look for the lazy ones. Why? Because a lazy person knows how to reach the goal in the shortest way possible. 

Today, as a father of children, I can tell which of my children is more in line with “Rachel”, and which is more in line with “Leah”. Just being aware of this makes my parenthood much better and clearer.

Shabbat Shalom, 

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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