Vayeishev: Hectic Can Be Spiritual

  • After Trump’s announcement regarding Yerushaliyim (finally, four of my five children will have officially been born in Israel, according to the US), I’ve been trying to figure out who the world hates more: Trump or Jews.


Russia announced their recognition of Yerushaliyim six months ago.  Congress has voted on it a few times.  And Israel has been using it for seventy years.  Now Trump makes it official, and everybody, including many liberal Jews, are appalled.  He “killed” the “peace-process”! He’s starting World War III!  Now the Arabs will go on a rampage and avenge themselves!!! (which is a very racist thing to say, that the Arabs cannot control their behavior).


What he did, I think, was morally correct.  Will it be worth it?  That’s a legitimate question, on which I see both sides.  Does it make a big deal in my life?  Not really . . . and I hope it doesn’t negatively affect us.


But, my number one question, and I fear I know the answer, is: If Obama did this . . . how would everybody have reacted?


So . . . maybe the world DOES hate somebody more than they hate the Jews.


Okay, on to more important things.


There’s a Midrash quoted by Rashi (Bereishis 37:1) that Yaakov, after surviving everything that he had gone through, wished to settle down and live in peace.  But, Hashem said, “Is it not enough for tzaddikim that they are destined to enjoy bliss in the Next World, that they seek to be tranquil on earth as well?”  At that point, the episode of Yosef occurred, and Yaakov was left to suffer for 22 years, thinking that his son was killed.


The obvious questions raised by many commentators is, what exactly is wrong with Yaakov’s wish?  What is wrong with desiring peace of mind and tranquility from the world, in order to pursue spiritual endeavors?


Rav Yerucham Levovitz states that we learn from here that this world was created for people to struggle in so that they might perfect themselves.  Many wrongly believe that spirituality means sitting on top of a mountain with a big beard, meditating day and night.  But it’s not true!  A person (specifically men), for example, is commanded to get married and have children.  Not only that, and much to the dismay of most men, he has to stay around and actually partake in raising of his children (crazy, I know).  According to Torah, raising children, taking them to their different appointments, dealing with their schools, their health, their interpersonal relations, etc., this is all under the umbrella of spirituality!


Spirituality does not mean tranquility from everything.  We are to engage in the world, according to our mission(s) in life.  And we are to try to find tranquility WITHIN that world.  It’s very easy to sit in India and meditate.  It’s much more difficult to deal with work, family, etc., and keep a tranquil mind and heart.  But in the end, THAT is what we have been put on earth for.


Have a wonderful Shabbos!


Michael Winner