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  JEWISH AND KOSHER UNITED STATES       
 
 
  KD MAGAZINE!                      ב"ה     
 
RABBI ASHER BRANDER Vayeshev
21 Kislev 5772 

By: Rabbi Asher Brander, rabbi@kehilla.org

 

The Best is Yet To Come   

   

One would have thought that for Yaakov Avinu, it would be Miller time. Yaakov is finally home - and a sense of you can go back emanates from the serene 1st verse of our parsha

 

א. וַיֵּשֶׁב יַעֲקֹב בְּאֶרֶץ מְגוּרֵי אָבִיו בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן:פ

1. Jacob dwelt in the land of his father's sojournings, in the land of Canaan.

It is a lone verse that belies the turbulent storms that lay ahead. As troubling as the preceding 36 years were for Yaakov - they are dwarfed by what was to be.

 

Consider this: Yaaakov is filled with the anxiety of what will Lavcan pull next and the impending unavoidable storm clouds of an Eisav that certainly must be confronted - but through it all Yaakov produces a beautiful picture-perfect mitaso shleima mishpacha -- the elusive desire of all Jewish parents.

 

And now that Yaakov is finally home and Yosef descends to Egypt, we know scant little about Yaakov's next 22 years; we only know Yaakov for what he is unable to do:

 

A picture of a paralyzed Yaakov emerges. One who can not be comforted, who is busy grieving - can not possibly be productive. [Hence halacha exempts him from positive mitzvos]. In fact, it might even be said that Yaakov during this period of time is like a walking dead man - a stunning notion confirmed by the Torah's formulation of Yaakov's revival when informed that Yosef is still alive [Bereishis, 45:27]

 

27. And they told him all of Joseph's words that he had said to them, and he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, and the spirit of their father Jacob was revived.

 

So for Yaakov, the worst is yet to come. A famous and troubling Midrash cited by Rashi, confirms this sense while raising an incredibly troubling notion:

 

"dwelt" (verse 1) When Jacob sought to dwell in tranquility, the troubles of Joseph sprang upon him. The righteous seek to dwell in tranquility. Said the Holy One, blessed be He, "What is prepared for the righteous in the world to come is not sufficient for them, but they seek [also] to dwell in tranquility in this world!"

 

An obvious question - what is wrong with Shalva - why does Hashem not want Tzaddikim to have it in this world - is it so bad for Tzaddikim to live oin this world with a sense of serenity and peace of mind[1]. Furthermore, is that not the centerpiece of the shabbos -mincha prayer

 

A day of menucha nd holiness to your nation you have again .... A rest of love and donation, a rest of truth and faith , rest of peace and shalve [tranquility]

 

There is something very deep going on here - but I believe that this is the foundational concept. Shalom in this world is great - but Shalva is not for the spirutally upwardly mobile. For Shalva is where we are when we arrived with no place to go[2]. It is the destination, and as long as we are alive - we must ipso facto be on a journey. A simple midrash [contrasting Bila'ams wordview to Yitzchak's] states it quite elegantly:

 

רבי יצחק בר רבי חייא אמר הרשעים ע"י שתחלתן שלוה וסופן יסורין פותחין בברכה וחותמין בקללה מברכיך ברוך ואורריך ארור

הצדיקים ע"י שתחלתן יסורין וסופן שלוה הם פותחין בקללה וחותמין בברכה אורריך ארור ומברכיך ברוך

 

And what of our Shabbos prayer - where we explicitly laud the Shalva nature of Shabbos? The answer [you might have already figured this out] is that Shabbos does not belong to this world. It is is a sneak preview of the next world [me'eien olam haba, yom shekulo shabbos [cf. Teachings, p. 46-47] - thus we need a shabbosdik neshama [i.e. neshama yeseira [cf. Ohr Hachaim Shemos 31] to appreciate the next world in this one. When we operate in shabbos Shalva mode, we are getting a glimpse of the next world. In this world however, there is no room for shalva - for shalva is state of arrival and in this world there is no room for arrival

 

One must delight in having achieved and feel inner peace for every ounce of progress along the way - but to the extent that we are still here, the best, that is the shalva , is yet to come

 

Good Shabbos - Asher Brander

  


[1] My 7th grade Rebbe was so bothered by this question that he found a variant text that replaced said Hashem with said the satan

[2] Cf. Sotah 48מאי מעוררים אמר רחבה בכל יום ויום שהיו עומדים לוים על דוכן ואומרים עורה למה תישן ה' אמר להן וכי יש שינה לפני המקום והלא כבר נאמר הנה לא ינום ולא יישן שומר ישראל אלא בזמן שישראל שרויין בצער ועובדי כוכבים בנחת ושלוה לכך נאמר עורה למה תישן ה'פ


 
   
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