web analytics
September 3, 2014 / 8 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



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
Hamas's leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh (in blue shirt, center), benefitted politically - and in a dramatic fashion - from this summer's war.  Photo from Hamas victory rally, Aug. 27, 2014.
Gazan Deaths and Destruction Dramatically Drives Popularity for Hamas
Latest Judaism Stories
shofar+kotel

If you had an important court date scheduled – one that would determine your financial future, or even your very life – you’d be sure to prepare for weeks beforehand. On Rosh Hashanah, each individual is judged on the merit of his deeds. Whether he will live out the year or not. Whether he will […]

The_United_Nations_Building

It is in the nature of the Nations of the World to be hostile towards the Jewish People.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

First, how could a beis din of 23 judges present a guilty verdict in a capital punishment case? After all, only a majority of the 23 judges ruled in favor of his verdict.

Of paramount importance is that both the king and his people realize that while he is the leader, he is still a subject of God.

Untimely News
‘A Mourner Is Forbidden To Wear Shoes…’
(Mo’ed Katan 20b)

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Menachem
Via Email

When a person feels he can control the destiny of other people, he runs the risk of feeling self-important, significant, and mighty.

Needless to say, it was done and they formed a great relationship as his friend and mentor. He started attending services and volunteered his time all along putting on tefillin.

He took me to a room filled with computer equipment and said, “You pray here for as long as you want.” I couldn’t believe my ears.

On Friday afternoon, Dov called Kalman. “Please make sure to return the keys for the car on Motzaei Shabbos,” he said. “We have a bris on Sunday morning and we’re all going. We also need the roof luggage bag.”

On Chol HaMoed some work is prohibited and some is permitted. According to some opinions, the work prohibition is biblical; according to others, it’s rabbinical.

If there is a mitzvas minuy dayanim in the Diaspora, then why is there a difference between Israel and the Diaspora in the number of judges and their distribution?

Judaism is a religion of love but also a religion of justice, for without justice, love corrupts.

The time immediately preceding Mashiach’s arrival is likened to the birth pangs of a woman in labor.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

When a person feels he can control the destiny of other people, he runs the risk of feeling self-important, significant, and mighty.

The-Shmuz

If a man sins and follows his inclinations, he will find comfort in this world – but when he dies, he will go to a place that is all thorns.

While it’s clear to you and to me that a 14,000-pound creature can easily break away from the light ropes holding it, the reality is that it cannot.

One of the manifestations of the immature person is a sense of entitlement.

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

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?

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

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: