web analytics
November 23, 2014 / 1 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Life Is Like A Video Game


The-Shmuz

“And Yaakov said to Pharaoh, ‘The days of my sojourning are a hundred and thirty. Few and difficult were the days of my life, and they haven’t reached the length of days of my father’s life.” – Bereishis 47:9

For most of his life, Yaakov Avinu suffered tests, trials and tribulations. It seems his days were spent moving from adversity to crisis. Clearly he didn’t have it easy, and the suffering took its toll.

When Yaakov went down to Mitzrayim and appeared in the king’s court, Pharaoh was so astounded at how aged Yaakov looked that his very first utterance was, “How old are you?” The Rishonim explain that Yaakov looked older than anyone Pharaoh had ever seen.

Yaakov responded: it wasn’t that he was that old; it was that he had a hard life. “Few and difficult were the days of my life.”

The Midrash (Das Zakainim 49:9) says that when Yaakov said these words, Hashem responded, “I saved you from Eisav and Lavan, I returned Dina and Yosef to you, and you are complaining about your life? Because of this you will lose 33 years!”

This Midrash is very difficult to understand. Every word Yaakov said was true. He did live a very difficult life. He was beset with troubles and distress. He suffered for decades. The proof of this was his appearance – his suffering aged him. What possible sin did Yaakov commit by expressing the reality of his hard life?

The answer to this question can be best understood with a parable.

If you enter a video arcade, you might notice the boxing game. For your two dollars in tokens, you get to fight a virtual boxer. When you put your money in and put the gloves on, up on the screen the referee appears to usher you and your opponent into the center of the ring. And then, “Ding!” – the action starts. Jab, jab, duck, punch. Jab, jab, duck, punch. Your opponent circles. He swings wide, you block and counter.

THUD! He falls to the canvas. The count: 1, 2, 3… But no. He’s back up and now on the offensive. He throws a power right to your midsection – thud! Now, a hook to your jaw – smash! Now it’s you who’s down. The count 1, 2, 3, 4… but you’re back up, and the fight continues. Jab, jab, hook. Duck. Jab, jab. Move right. The bell rings again, signaling the end of the round.

And you’re sweating. No matter what shape you’re in, the pace is so fast and the simulation so real that you are putting everything into it. And then you go to spend the rest of your day with your children. No headaches, no bruises.

If you speak to someone who has been in a real boxing ring, you get a very different picture. Likely, you will hear something like, “Nothing in my life prepared me for those two minutes – the punches to the jaw, the jabs to the head, and more than anything, the fear that at any moment this beast is going to smash my brains in. . .” All of that make boxing a very different experience than the boxing arcade. It’s a whole lot less fun.

The Video Game of Life

This is a very apt parable for life. Throughout our lives, Hashem puts us through many different situations, all measured, all finely focused for our growth. Some are tests of endurance, some are tests of faith, and some are tests of patience, but each one is custom-designed for our growth. But like a video game, it’s not real. It’s a mirage, just a frightening image. When it is over, we see it for what it was: an empty threat.

The Chovos HaLevovos explains that one of the basics of our belief system is, “You can’t harm me; you can’t help me.” Everything – every ounce of suffering, every event that is to befall a person, is all decided, defined and directed by Hashem Himself. No human being can inflict damage on me that wasn’t already decided by Hashem.

With this recognition comes a deep understanding: the doctor isn’t the determinant of whether I live or die; the threat isn’t the failing economy; the danger isn’t man. All humans are powerless to affect my destiny. Like a simulated opponent in an arcade game, they look very menacing, but it is just smoke and mirrors. Hashem is hiding behind every scene, orchestrating the outcome. And all along, I am always safe and sound, guarded and protected.

This seems to be the answer to the Midrash. Yaakov suffered during his lifetime, and that was the problem. It is expected reasonable for any mortal going through these events to feel felt fear and anxiety. But this was Yaakov Avinu. This was the man who walked with Hashem. This was the man who saw Hashem in every moment and every action. He should have recognized the fight scene as the mirage it was – a mere illusion. If he felt fear and actually suffered, then on some level he didn’t see through the smoke and mirrors, and for Yaakov Avinu, that was unacceptable.

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 “Life Is Like A Video Game”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
What, me incite terror? Abba: "The Jews must be barred by any means possible."
Ex-Senior Justice Official Asks Homeland Security to Ban Abbas from US
Latest Judaism Stories
Rabbi Avi Weiss

Yitzchak thought the Jewish people needed dual leadership: Eisav the physical; Yaakov the spiritual

Weiss-112114-Sufganiot

According to the Sefer Yetzirah, the nature of the month of Kislev is sleep.

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

Though braggarts come across as conceited, their boasting often reflects a low sense of self-regard

Nimchinsky-112114-Learning

Not every child can live up to our hopes or expectations, but every child is loved by Hashem.

Leaders must always pay attention to the importance of timing.

While our leaders have been shepherds, the vast majority of the Children of Israel were farmers.

Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165

If a man dies childless, the Torah commands the deceased’s brother to marry his brother’s widow in a ceremony known as yibum, or to perform a special form of divorce ceremony with her known as chalitzah.

Dovid turned to the other people sitting at his table. “I’m revoking my hefker of the Chumash,” he announced. “I want to keep it.”

Ever Vigilant
‘When Unworthy, One’s Number Of Years Is Reduced’
(Yevamos 50a)

Question: My young daughter was recently diagnosed with autism. She does not function well socially and is extremely introverted, but we have noticed that she reacts very well to small animals. We reported this to her therapist who suggested that we get a dog or cat as a pet. We know that most religious people frown upon having pets, but we hate to see our daughter suffer and want to do anything that would make her happy. Would it be okay to own a pet in the circumstances we described?

Her Loving Parents
(Via E-Mail)

Ramban interprets Korban as self-sacrifice, each Jew should attempt to recreate Akeidas Yitzchak.

Dr. Schwartz had no other alternatives up his sleeve. He suggested my mother go home and think about what she wanted to do.

Why does Lavan’s speaking before his father show that he was wicked? Disrespectful, yes. Rude, certainly. But a rasha?

We find that in certain circumstances before the Torah was actually given, people were permitted to make calculations as to what would better serve Hashem, even if it were against a mitzvah or aveirah.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

Why does Lavan’s speaking before his father show that he was wicked? Disrespectful, yes. Rude, certainly. But a rasha?

The-Shmuz

What happened was that Frank Jr. stopped being the little babe looking with love into his father’s eyes, and the relationship took on a very different nature.

Is it possible a man could be standing in a burning building, knowing this life is in danger, and be too lazy to move?

Avram’s father was not impressed with the cleverness of his son. In fact, he was so unimpressed that he took him to Nimrod the king, who pronounced him an enemy of the state and attempted to execute him.

Strict din demands perfection. There is no room for shortcomings and no place for excuses; you are responsible.

I, the one who is housed inside this body, am completely and utterly spiritual.

When Hashem formed man, He gave him the keys to Creation. As the Midrash tells us, Hashem said to Adam, “This is your world now. You are in charge of it; take care that you don’t destroy it.”

Imagine a man who, after having a few too many drinks, gets into his car and begins driving. It takes a while before he is pulled over, but finally the police arrest him, and he stands trial for driving while intoxicated.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/life-is-like-a-video-game/2011/12/29/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: