Sunday, November 28, 2010

[KollelH blog] VaYeishev

Parshas VaYeishev is noted as a parshah of challenges and hardship. As a matter of fact, the Balei Tosafos point out that all but eight of the 112 p'sukim therein, begin with the letters 'וי' - 'woe' . (Perhaps the eight are hinting to the 8 days of Chanukah a truly happy and light eight days in the middle of the dark and cumbersome winter.) This, as Rashi mentions in the beginning of the parshah, was a response to Yaakov's quest to settle in calm peacefulness in Eretz Yisrael. בקש יעקב לישב בשלוה, קפץ עליו רגזו של יוסף .

The discussion of Tzaddik v'ra lo deserves a lot more attention than a short D'var Torah email permits. However, I'd like to share a question that came to mind while reading the Rashi.

David HaMelech, in Tehillim writes the well known words of  אחת שאלתי  - "One thing I ask of G-D, that is what I seek. To settle in the house of G-D all the days of my life." David seems to use the same terminology as Yaakov  אבקש שבתי בבית ה . Certainly Yaakov's desire for settling peacefully was not to recline on a beach chair with a soft drink! He surely would use the calm to continue his study of Torah and avodas Hashem. So why did David not receive the same response that Yaakov got?

The answer, I believe can be learned from the careful language of the Rambam [hilchos teshuvah 9.1 and further]. The Rambam tells us that the reward for mitzvos and punishment for aveiros are not paid in this world. All the world's greatest pleasures could not add up to appropriately pay for even a single mitzvah that was properly fulfilled l'shmah. "If so," asks the Rambam, "why do we find so many p'sukim in the Torah promising  material good for those who follow G-D's command?" The Rambam answers that this is not payment or reward at all. Rather G-D assures those people who are sincerely dedicated to His Torah, that He will assist them in fulfilling its commandments by removing the worldly problems that deter him. All the blessings of health, wealth, and peace are in actuality just preventatives from being disturbed from Hashem's avodah.

David HaMelech, with the many wars he fought, and the kingdom he ruled, was constantly disturbed from the level of avodas Hashem he felt he could attain (see Radak on the pasuk above). Therefore it was not wrong to ask or seek peace and harmony to provide him with the opportunity to serve Hashem better.

Yaakov on the other hand, had risen to a much greater level of avodah. There are many medrashim that describe Yaakov's stay with Lavan in great detail. He was constantly studying Torah, day and night even while working as the sheppard of Lavan's flock. He would be awake at night learning Torah and chasing sleep from his eyes while guarding the cattle as well.

Yaakov was steeped in Torah regardless of his environment! Yaakov was able to serve Hashem in the most dire circumstances, - (even living by his in-laws!). He did not need the worldly blessings of peace and tranquility in order to serve Hashem! Therefore that seemingly innocently small pleasure would not be considered assisting his avodah, rather it would be deemed as payment for his mitzvos. Although Yaakov had many z'chusim to bank on, היום לעשותם today is for doing, and only  ומחר לקבל שכרם - tommorow is for reward. Only Shabbos, which is מעין עולם הבא - is a day which is available for extra pleasures even without the intent of assisting in our avodah. It is a taste of  'reward'.

In truth, so long as sin and evil exist in the world, Hashem's presence in this world cannot be referred to as 'settled'. אין הכיסא שלם - until Amalek is gone and the entire world recognizes and accepts Hashem's reign. A true tzaddik who is attached to Hashem and His ways, can appreciate following the ways of G-D and not feeling settled peacefully in olam hazeh. For the rest of us, we can at least learn from here not to be terribly anxious for the material pleasures that are beckoning to us, even though they may be halachically permissible.

May we all merit seeing, and fully rejoicing on, the day of .... והיה ה' למלך !

Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 11/29/2010 01:03:00 AM

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