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100% PURE

by Rabbi Shmuel Weiss    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

Forget the World Wrestling Federation. Forget the Royal Rumble and Summer Slam. The greatest wrestling match in history is about to take place. Jacob, champion of Truth and Good, is taking on Esauís Angel, the Master of Disaster.

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Forget the World Wrestling Federation. Forget the Royal Rumble and Summer Slam. The greatest wrestling match in history is about to take place. Jacob, champion of Truth and Good, is taking on Esauís Angel, the Master of Disaster.

But first, Jacob does something--something that is mighty strange. The Talmud (Tractate Chulin 91) relates that Jacob crossed back over the river Yabok to retrieve some "pachim ktanim--small little jars or pitchers" that he apparently had forgotten.

Whatís going on here? What could be so important about those jars that Jacob would go back for them?

Our sages suggest that righteous individuals such as Jacob are extra careful about their property. Not because they care so much about material things, but because they recognize that these gifts come from Hashem and must be utilized fully. No matter how small, they must be guarded 100%.

Is this not also the message of the "little jar of oil" of Chanukah? Remember: the Kohanim (priests) who entered the Temple after it had been desecrated by the Greeks found many jars of oil for the menorah, but none with the seal unbroken. And though rabbinic opinion found a heter (permissibility) to use that sullied oil, they insisted on using only that one, 100% pure jar, which ended up lasting--miraculously--for all 8 days until new oil was brought.

In fact, maybe it was because they had the highest standards of purity that the miracles of Chanukah were performed for us in the first place.

I recall vividly an incident that occurred when I traveled to the USSR in 1985, before Perestroika, when Jews were still prisoners behind the Iron Curtain, and when it was still dangerous to be a practicing Jew.

I had brought ketubot (marriage contracts) in order to conduct wedding ceremonies with refuseniks, who had no rabbi there to help them. But when I offered to marry several couples, they refused. They said there was no kosher mikvah (ritual bath) in their city. I then told them that since they were already civilly married, they could immerse in a mikvah when one became available.

The couples conferred, and then politely declined. "When we can fulfill the law 100%," they said, "then we will get married. But not before." I was awe-struck and so impressed. These brave souls "went back" for the jar of 100% oil; and perhaps that is why, today, they are all free.

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Rabbi Shmuel Weiss, a close friend of the Torah from Dixie family, is the director of the Jewish Outreach Center in Ranaíana, Israel.

You are invited to read more Parshat Vayishlach articles.

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