Vayeitzei - "I have the power"
Chananya Weissman
ויצא

יש לאל ידי


[לא:כט] יֶשׁ לְאֵל יָדִי לַעֲשׂוֹת עִמָּכֶם רָע וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבִיכֶם אֶמֶשׁ אָמַר אֵלַי לֵאמֹר הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ מִדַּבֵּר עִם יַעֲקֹב מִטּוֹב עַד רָע:

Lavan exhibits incredible brazenness throughout his conversation with Yaacov, but this remark might be the most brazen of them all. In one breath he claims the ability to harm Yaacov, then acknowledges Hashem's direct warning not to interfere with him in any way. Essentially, Lavan is saying that he has decided to defer to Hashem's wishes, and it is only because of this "graciousness" that Yaacov will avoid harm; the power belongs to him.

While this attitude might seem outlandish to us, unfortunately it is not limited to the Lavans of the world. In fact, it is prevalent to a degree in all but the greatest among us. The average Jew believes in Hashem, but in an abstract way He is the creator of the world, and is involved in the world in some vague, indirect, irrelevant fashion. Perhaps they even accept on an intellectual level that Hashem is fully involved with and in charge of the day-to-day affairs of Man (aside from limited, though significant, areas reserved for free choice). But when push comes to shove, when the moment of truth arrives, they hedge their bets and place their ultimate faith in themselves and other people, not in the Master of the Universe.

Two of the most common and severe manifestations of this spiritual deficiency are business and shidduchim. One must always put forth a reasonable amount of effort according to the ways of the world, since anything less would constitute relying on a miracle, which is forbidden. However, we must never lose sight of the fact that success in these and all areas is dependent not on our ability to curry favor with other people, but on the will of Hashem. It is with Him that we must try to curry favor, as it is He and only He Who controls our respective and collective destinies. To act in discord with this demonstrates a shortage of true belief in Hashem, which taken to an extreme would lead one down the path of Lavan.