24. I Need Needs

When Yaakov Avinu ran away from Eisav, he turned to Hashem and he begged for four things: Hashem, protect me on the way, Hashem, return me to my house in peace, Hashem, grant me food to eat and clothing to wear. And the midrash tells us that Hashem said some of those requests I’ll grant. Protect you, I’ll grant that. Guard you, I’ll grant that, I’ll protect you, I’ll be with you. But in terms of guaranteeing you parnassah, in terms of guaranteeing that you’ll have food to eat and clothing to wear, I can’t guarantee that because then you’ll have nothing to ask me, says Hashem.

That midrash is rather difficult to understand. We’re dealing with Yaakov Avinu. We’re dealing with the greatest of the Avos (our forefathers), a man who lives to be close to his Creator. And it’s almost like Hashem says if I guarantee you food to eat and clothing to wear you’ll have nothing to ask from Me — you won’t call, you won’t write, you won’t love Me anymore. It sounds rather perplexing.

But the answer is that as great as Yaakov Avinu was, he needed a need. You see, when I need something, when I don’t have it, and I reach out to my Creator, I begin to understand more clearly that Hashem is here. I begin to get it on a more real level. And as great as Yaakov Avinu was, and as clearly as he saw Hashem, there were more levels and more levels of clarity. Even he needed needs. If Hashem would have granted him all of his needs he wouldn’t have needed to reach out, he wouldn’t have needed to beseech, he wouldn’t have needed to beg Hashem, and he would never have grown.

And I think that’s an important concept for us. Many, many times there will be things that we lack, things that we need, and we have to reach out to Hashem. But those lacks and those needs are not by accident. It’s not because Hashem doesn’t have enough money and not because Hashem can’t orchestrate things differently. Quite the opposite. Many, many times Hashem designs, custom hand-crafts a very specific situation so that we’ll have a need, so that we’ll have to reach out to Hashem. Because the process of asking Hashem, the process of turning to our Creator and saying I can’t do it, I rely on You is one of the key growths for us as human beings, as people who recognize Hashem in our lives.