web analytics
July 26, 2014 / 28 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

A Generous Spirit


The-Shmuz

“And from the Nile rose up seven cows beautiful of appearance and healthy of flesh.” – Bereishis 41:2

Pharaoh had a dream. First, seven “good” cows came out of the Nile. Then seven “bad” cows came up and consumed the first cows. When he awoke in the morning, he called for Yosef to interpret the dream. Yosef explained the seven “good cows” represented seven years of plenty that would be followed by seven years of famine.

Interestingly, the expression the Torah uses to describe the first set of cows is “beautiful of appearance, and healthy of flesh.” Rashi explains that “beauty of appearance” means that since everyone would enjoy abundance during the seven years of plenty, no one would cast a jealous eye and the possessions of neighbors would look attractive. During the seven years of famine, in contrast, since they would be lacking, their neighbors’ belongings would look ugly.

This Rashi is difficult to understand. He seems to be saying that because a person doesn’t have, he will become jealous and therefore his neighbor’s possessions will look distasteful to him. It would seem to be just the opposite. If I don’t have something and you do, my not having it will make me want it more, so that item, now being an object of my desire, should look more attractive, not less.

The answer to this question can best be understood through an observation about human nature.

Rose-Colored Glasses

The world uses the expression “The optimist sees the glass as half full, while the pessimist sees it as half empty.” While there is truth in this statement, it actually goes further. Our attitudes color what we see, and our moods shape our thoughts. Those thoughts become the prism through which we perceive reality. And so when looking at an eight-ounce glass with four ounces in it, the optimist sees a glass that is full; the pessimist sees a glass that is empty.

Two people can look at an identical situation yet see vastly different worlds. One sees potential while the other sees pitfalls; one sees obstacles to overcome and the other sees barriers blocking the path. Because we experience the world through the filter of our attitudes, to an optimist the world is filled with beautiful things and generous people. To a pessimist the world is filled with ugly things and petty people.

This seems to be the answer to Rashi. When a person has his needs met, he is satisfied, and a satisfied man can be generous of sprit. To a man generous of spirit, the world is a place of beauty. That which my friend has is lovely. His farm is impressive. His flocks are splendid. His crops are outstanding.

However, a person who isn’t satisfied hungers and craves, and his needs can cause him to be bitter and stingy of spirit. To him the world is a place of bitterness and resentment. I begrudge my friend for what he has. I cannot forgive his success. His farm is poor. His flocks are pitiful. His crops are pathetic. The world itself is an ugly place.

This concept is very applicable to us. Many people we meet aren’t happy. The strange part of it is they have so much, yet something is holding back.

Like a mantra, people utter the words, “I will be happy when…” Each person has his own fill-in for the blank, but whatever it is, his happiness depends on it. It might be the newest car, the fanciest house, the corner office, or the wardrobe worth dying for. It could be the right spouse, acceptance into medical school, that great job, or people who understand me… Each person has his own value system and his own criteria, but he clearly knows, “Once I get it, I will finally be happy.”

Yet an amazing thing happens. He does finally get it – and lo and behold, he still isn’t happy. What happened? It was all he needed. It was all he wanted. He finally has it. Why isn’t he satisfied? What is the problem?

The problem is that it wasn’t what he needed to be happy. The sad part is that he spent years pursuing something with a hunger that didn’t allow him to enjoy life.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the www.theShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Generous Spirit”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
John Kerry
Entire Israeli Cabinet Rejects Kerry’s Proposed Ceasefire, Talks Continue
Latest Judaism Stories
Weiss-072514

Just as the moon waxes, wanes and renews itself, so has the nation of Israel renewed itself through the millennia.

126_masei_web

Parshat Masei: Rabbi Fohrman addresses the age-old question, are we our brother’s keeper?

Hertzberg-072514

When Germany invaded neutral Belgium on August 4, England declared war on Germany. Thus, by the end of the first week of August all the major powers of Europe were at war.

Winiarz-072514

The Talmud teaches that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed because of baseless hatred.

When taking any major step in life it is a good idea to carefully re-evaluate one’s past.

Ours is a small and intensely vulnerable people. Inspired, we rise to greatness. Uninspired, we fall

The enormity of Hiram’s accomplishments crazed him and deluded him into self-deification.

When Hashem first thought (if it could be) about creating the world, the middah of din was in operation.

Hallel On Purim?
“Its Reading Is Its Praise”
(Megillah 14a)

If the only person available to perform the milah on the eighth day is a person who is not an observant Jew, the milah should be postponed until a devout mohel is available.

It is apparent from the Maharsha that he does not see galus as atoning for killing accidentally; otherwise, this Gemara would not bother him.

It was found to be a giant deer tick living in her head – with its claws in her scalp.

While daydreaming about finding the perfect job, I never expected to be rewarded in spades for my aforementioned experience.

We are all entrusted with the mission of protecting our fellow Jews

Today, we remain Hashem’s nachal.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

When Hashem first thought (if it could be) about creating the world, the middah of din was in operation.

The-Shmuz

We may not recognize the adverse affect of eating forbidden foods, but they leave an indelible imprint.

There are often two distinct perspectives of an event: the perspective from living in the moment, and the perspective of history.

The rock doesn’t have needs, yet it listens to Hashem. How much more so should we, who have so many needs?

Clearly, they were lacking in bitachon. Their faith in Hashem was deficient. But they weren’t guilty of speaking lashon hara.

Of even greater significance, once the miraglim made their mistake and concluded that Hashem wasn’t powerful enough to bring the people into the land, what they then spoke wasn’t lashon hara at all

To gain power or distract the population from their suffering, a monarch would look for a place to put the blame.

Why can’t a man just admit it is wrong to steal but he wants to do it anyway?

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/a-generous-spirit/2012/12/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: