Vayetze: Chapter 2

Seven vanities


The hidden meaning of Ecclesiastes' maxim, "Vanity of vanities, vanity of vanities, all is vanity" is revealed here. Rabbi Elazar comments that the apparent frustrations and disappointments of life are in fact blessings in disguise. He calls them "holy and necessary," because they establish the limits within which Man can find authentic happiness. "The sun also rises and the sun goes down," refers to the negative aspect of the seven vanities. In its dark midnight or sundown aspect, the inescapable vanity of human existence is compared to a man "Trying to catch the wind" - a futile and useless activity that is harmful to the spirit, and thus evil. Such habits or vices must be left behind.


The spiritual influences radiating through this section help us overcome inner weaknesses that impede our progress toward the Light. These positive forces foster deeper awareness of the aspects of life that can bring us lasting happiness and true fulfillment.