Tefillah - 014 Balanced Compassion
ואלוקי יעקב – “And the G-d of Yaakov”, refers to the trait which Yaakov Avinu embodied – the trait of emes, truth. “Give truth to Yaakov.”
Avraham Avinu had two wives – Sarah Imeinu and her maidservant, Hagar. Yitzchok Avinu had only one wife – Rivkah. Yaakov Avinu had four wives – Leah, Rachel, Bilhah and Zilpah. The children of Yaakov, the 12 Shevatim, did not all come from just Rachel and Leah; they also came from the maidservants Bilhah and Zilpah. Here we see the following novel concept: besides for the middos which we inherited from our Avos and Imahos, we also inherited middos from the maidservants.
The maidservants (Bilhah and Zilpah) do not come from Avraham Avinu’s family, yet, a third of Klal Yisrael comes from the maidservants! What do we have to do with the maidservants??
We find that our forefathers Avraham and Yitzchok had differing approaches. Avraham is called av hamon b’goyim, the “father of the nations”; he fathered Yishmael, and he wanted Yishmael to remain in his household. If not for Sarah’s pressure, he wouldn’t have sent Yishmael away. [This is because Avraham is the middah of ahavah\chessed.]
Sarah, however, came with din. She wanted Yishmael out of the house. Yitzchok Avinu was like his mother Sarah – he represented din, because Yitzchok’s trait is yirah and pachad (awe and fear). Sarah wanted all evil to be expelled from the home, and this is like Yitzchok’s middah of pachad, which is to sift out the bad from the good.
Yaakov, however, combines the two approaches. On one hand, Yaakov is the trait of emes, which goes with din\judgment. Truth cannot stand falsity, and it demands that the bad be sifted out from the good and expelled. On the other hand, Yaakov is also the trait of rachamim\compassion. The ability of compassion comes to bring harmony. He combined both the approaches of Avraham and Yitzchok and harmonized them. On his outside, he showed emes, strict truth and judgment, but Yaakov’s inner essence is rachamim\compassion.
Chazal say that “Yaakov is the choicest of the Avos.” Yaakov is the paradigm of perfection, for he possesses the trait of compassion. When Hashem created the world, originally He created it with middas hadin (judgment), and He saw that the world could not survive, so He created it with middas harachamim (compassion), and then Creation was complete. Thus, the trait of compassion completed and “perfected” Creation, and therefore Yaakov is the most “perfect” of all the Avos, because he possessed the quality of rachamim\compassion.
A person cannot survive with just emes alone (except for a few rare individuals who can). If a person would live his life purely based upon emes, he would disassociate himself completely from the world. To live with just emes alone would also cause a lot of disagreement and strife with people.
On the other hand, if a person goes on in the opposite extreme, and he is being too compassionate with people, he will compromise on the truth. He will become too naïve. If someone steals from him, he will judge the person favorably and think, “The stealer took what was rightfully his.”
We must be balanced in our Avodas Hashem – we need to harmonize the traits of emes and rachamim together.
The first part of our Avodah is that we need to clarify what the truth is. After we are burning for the truth in life, we can then develop our trait of rachamim, and the rachamim will be a balanced kind of compassion, because it is built upon truth.
We must know what the emes is and clarify it - and burn with it.
If not, a person is in mortal danger. “The yetzer hora is evil from a man’s youth” and he continues to get worse and worse each day – unless a person clarifies what truth is, he will succumb to the yetzer hora, without a doubt.
Yaakov exercised the trait of emes on his outside, but his essence is rachamim. The outside protects the inside – so when a person has emes, his rachamim is protected. If a person seeks emes, he will have protection.
Our actual essence, though, is to strive for ahavah\love and achdus\unity with Creation. It is just that emes is the protection that we need in order for our rachamim on Creation to be balanced.
May we merit to combine both emes and rachamim – which is expressed through the words ואלוקי יעקב.
 See also Tefillah #089: Truth and Peace Together