web analytics
April 1, 2015 / 12 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Gedolim Had It Easy


The-Shmuz

This week’s parshah opens up with the statement “Vayechi Yaakov b’eretz Mitzrayim shevah esreh shanah – “And Yaakov lived in Egypt for seventeen years.” The Bal HaTurim explains that the gematria of vayichi (lived) is seventeen. The Torah is telling us that the life of Yaakov was seventeen years. Up until that point, he had suffered so much that his years couldn’t rightfully be called a life. The sum total of the years that he spent without torment was the seventeen years that he lived in Mitzraim. That was his life.

With this, the Bal Haturim gives a very different perspective on the life of Yaakov — he had a rough existence. For the first sixty-three years of his life, he suffered at the hands of his twin brother Aysav. From the time that they were in the womb together, they were fighting about this world and the Next. That period ended when he ran for his life because his dear brother was plotting his murder. He then spent the next fourteen years hiding out as a fugitive in the Yeshiva of Shem VaEver.

When it was time to marry, he found himself in the house of Lavan, “the devious one.” For the next twenty years, Yaakov was an unwelcome intruder in a culture alien to his nature, eating at the very table of a father-in-law who attempted in any way possible to swindle and cheat him. That period came to an end when Lavan chased him down. Once again, he escaped as a fugitive. Immediately after that, he met up with Aysav, who had set out with 400 men to kill him. Barely escaping with his life, he settled in Eretz Yisrael, only to have the tragedy of the taking of Dina befall him. After this, his most beloved and precious son, Yosef, was stolen from him, and for the next twenty-two years he lived in a state of mourning, not sure if Yosef were alive or dead. Finally at the age of 130, he settled in Mitzraim, where he enjoyed seventeen years of peace.

The Bal Haturim is telling us that the Torah uses the expression, “Yaakov lived for seventeen years in Mitzraim,” to teach us this point. He suffered so acutely during the earlier part of his life that it wouldn’t be called living. This was the first time that he’d lived without affliction.

This concept becomes difficult to understand when we focus on who Yaakov Avinu was. Chazal tell us that Yaakov was the greatest of the Avos. He was born with a father and grandfather who were his rebbeim. From the time of his earliest youth he spent his days in the tent of Torah, completely immersed in the sea of learning. Surely he didn’t need a difficult life. Surely he could enjoy this world and not become distracted by the glitz and the glitter. So why did he need to suffer?

The answer to this question can be understood with a mashol. Picture a very exclusive health club with two separate sections. On the left is the spa and on the right is the gym. The spa is where people relax. Whether sitting in the steam room, lying in the Jacuzzi, or lounging in the sauna, the mode of activity is to loosen up and enjoy. The gym is where people exercise. They push themselves, they strain, and they challenge their bodies.

Imagine that the first time you visit this health club, you decide to go right to the spa. By mistake, instead of turning left, you turn right and find yourself in the gym. You look around, and all you see are red-faced men lifting heavy loads, grunting, groaning, and sweating away. The first thought that comes to your mind is, “What kind of lousy spa is this? What is all of this straining? The red faces? The grunting and groaning? I thought people are supposed to be chilling out, enjoying?”

This is a very apt parable for life. When Hashem made man, He created two worlds – this world and the World to Come. Each has its purpose. This world is the place of growth. The World to Come is the place that we enjoy that which we accomplished.

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 “Gedolim Had It Easy”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Obama Stops Punishing Egypt for Dumping Muslim Brotherhood Prez
Latest Judaism Stories
Bodenheim-032715

Our ability to teach is only successful if done by example.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

Outside of the High Holidays, Pesach is probably the most celebrated biblical holiday for the majority of Jews.

Business-Halacha-logo

“If I notify people, nobody will buy the matzos!” exclaimed Mr. Mandel. “Once the halachic advisory panel ruled leniently, why can’t I sell the matzos regularly?”

The-Shmuz

So what type of praise is it that Aaron followed orders?

Her Children, Her Whim
‘Kesubas Bnin Dichrin’
(Kesubos 52b)

Question: Must one spend great sums of money and invest much effort in making one’s home kosher for Passover? Not all of us have such unlimited funds.

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Yachatz is not mentioned in the Gemara. What is the foundation for yachatz?

First, the punishment for eating chametz on Pesach is karet, premature death at the Hand of God.

Why is it necessary to invite people to eat from the korban Pesach?

How was I going to get to Manhattan? No cabs were going, we didn’t have a car, and many people who did have cars had no gas.

Did you ever notice that immediately upon being granted our freedom from Egypt, the Jewish people accepted upon themselves the yoke of a new master – Hashem?

Why does Torah make the priests go through a long and seemingly bizarre induction ceremony?

Often people in important positions separate from everyday people & tasks-NOT the Kohen Gadol

You smuggled tefillin into the camp? How can they help? Every day men risked their lives to use them

Rambam: Eating blood’s forbidden because connected to idolatry;Ramban: We’re affected by what we eat

Rambam warns that a festival meal without taking care of the needy isn’t fulfilling simchat yom tov

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

So what type of praise is it that Aaron followed orders?

The-Shmuz

If my garment is clean, then I will be careful about maintaining its beauty. If it is soiled, I will not be as careful.

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The avodah (service) of the kohen gadol is vital and highly sensitive; the world’s very existence depends on it.

While it may appear that man is in charge, Hashem orchestrates every activity on the planet

Hashem placed this world at man’s disposal. In a real sense, man is the steward of Creation.

He is fully aware that who he will be for eternity is in his hands.

How can the Da’as Zekeinim say this was Hashem’s plan to allow them to become the Torah Nation? We know it was actually a punishment.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/gedolim-had-it-easy/2012/12/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: