By Rabbi Ephraim Hochberg
weeks Parsha begins with the words, "Vayeshev Yaakov
and Yaakov settled". Rashi quotes a seemingly perplexing Midrash.
"Yaakov was seeking to live in tranquility, when the travails
of Yosef were thrust upon him. The righteous seek to live in tranquility.
G-d says, The righteous do not consider that which is prepared
for them in the World to Come to be enough for them, but they seek
to dwell in tranquility in this world as well."
Assuredly the tranquility which Yaakov
desired was not a life of self-indulgence and hedonistic pleasure,
instead it was a life of studying Torah and fulfilling G-ds
will without distraction. Why then was G-d displeased with Yaakov?
To understand this point, another
basic question must be explored. We know that G-d is the essence
of all good, kindness and compassion, and that his desire is to
bestow good upon us. If so, why are our Neshamos- souls- sent away
from G-ds presence down to this world? Would it not be better
for our souls to remain in the heavenly, spiritual sphere where
we can continually enjoy G-ds goodness?
The Chofetz Chaim, in Toras Habayis,
answers with the following: Although it is true that our Neshamos
would be able to benefit greatly if we remained in the World to
Come, that benefit would be realized without any effort on our behalf.
A person can only enjoy a reward if he feels that he has earned
it. Even a son, whose father wants to benefit him, would have a
hard time taking constantly, unless he feels that he has worked
for what he is receiving. Therefore, G-d in his infinite wisdom,
sends away our Neshamos for our own good. We can then feel by performing
His mitzvos that we have earned our share in the next world.
However, continues the Chofetz Chaim,
this answer alone does not suffice. Why cant G-d create some
form of mitzvos that can be performed in the World to Come, and
allow our souls to stay there? Why must we come down to this world
in order to do his will? The answer must be that reward in the World
to Come is based on the tests that we successfully complete, and
the effort that is put forth in this world in fulfilling His mitzvos.
If our souls would live in the World to Come, where G-ds existence
is so obvious, it would be unthinkable not to fulfill the mitzvos,
and the reward would be given without having to work for it. Only
in this world, where G-d has concealed his existence, and the soul
is joined with the physical body, which is an impediment to recognizing
G-ds greatness, can a person really feel as though he has
earned his reward.
Using this principle, we can now answer
our original question. Of course Yaakovs idea of tranquility
was to fulfill G-ds will without distraction, however, since
the entire purpose of a persons existence in this world is
to overcome the obstacles that come his way, and to fulfill the
mitzvos despite hardships, it was necessary to bring upon Yaakov
the misfortunes involving Yosef.
May we all merit to fulfil our purposes
in this world, to serve G-d despite all difficulties.
Last Updated Wednesday Dec 17,