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“Yaakov settled in the land of his father’s sojourns…” (Bereishis 37:1).

The Medrash says Yosef’s troubles sprang up on Yaakov when he sought to live in tranquility. Hashem k’vayachol said, “Is it what I have prepared for the righteous in the World to Come not enough that they seek also to dwell in tranquility in this world? ”


Iyov 5:7 states, “Man is born to weariness.” If one dwelt tranquilly all his life, he would be unable to accomplish the mission for which his neshamah was sent down to this world.

The Bais Shalom Mordechai points out a pivotal difference between the words “leishev” (to settle) and “lagur” (to dwell). “Lagur” is a temporary dwelling. When Yosef’s brothers appeared before Pharaoh they said, “We have come to dwell in the land” (Bereishis 47:5). Their request was for a temporary residence since their focus was on their life in the World to Come.

When Yaakov encountered Eisav he used the same word: “Im Lavan garti.” Our Sages tell us that the numeric equivalent of “garti” is 613, signifying that Yaakov fulfilled all 613 mitzvos of the Torah. But it also suggests that Yaakov regarded himself as merely a sojourner at Lavan’s house since he was totally concentrated on Olam Haba.

The Gemara tells us that R’ Shimon bar Yochai and his son lived in a cave for 13 years to avoid capture by the Romans. They were sustained by a carob tree that grew at the entrance of the cave and by a spring of water. To preserve their garments, they would remove their clothes and bury themselves in sand up to their necks while studying Torah, only donning their clothes when it was time to pray.

When R’ Pinchas ben Yair met them in the bathhouse, he saw that their skin was cracked and began to cry, “Woe is to me that I see you like this!”

R’ Shimon said, “Happy are you that you have seen me like this, as had you not, you would not have found in me this prominence in Torah.” The Gemara relates that when R’ Shimon bar Yochai used to raise a difficulty in learning, R’ Pinchas ben Yair would respond to his questions with 12 answers. After his sojourn in the cave, though, R’ Shimon bar Yochai would respond with 24 answers when R’ Pinchas ben Yair raised a difficulty. The time spent under duress in the cave helped him progress to a very high level in Torah.

Beside suffering adversity and distress in the cave, R’ Shimon bar Yochai was also fleeing danger. Yet, it was particularly during this period that he was able to plumb the depths of Torah. The Michtav M’Eliyahu notes that when a person immerses himself in Torah study with mesiras nefesh, without regard to his challenges and difficulties, he is most successful in advancing to the highest levels.

Yirmiyahu 30:7 says, “It will be a time of trouble for Yaakov, but he will be saved from it.” Our Sages explain that suffering and difficulty themselves yield salvation. Moshiach is born and grows during the darkest period in galus. Moshe Rabbeinu was born in Egypt. The redemption and salvation are commensurate with the distress and challenges of galus.

Pirkei Avos (6:4) states, “Such is the way of Torah: Eat bread with salt, drink water in small measure, sleep on the ground, live a life of deprivation, but toil in Torah.” Rashi asks why one must experience such hardship to acquire Torah. Evidently, these challenging circumstances generate the element of mesiras nefesh that is an essential component for integrating Torah. It is “the way of Torah” – i.e. by riding out one’s challenges, Torah becomes man’s essence, and not merely a subject matter.

The great R’ Yissochor Ber of Radoshitz committed himself never to come onto others, directing his requests solely to Hashem Himself. He would only accept unsolicited gifts.

Once before Pesach, he had absolutely nothing at home – no matzos, no wine, no maror, no charoses. On any other day, the family would simply have fasted, but that wasn’t an option on the holy night of Pesach. Yet, the tzaddik was reluctant to discard his principles.

Perceiving the difficult circumstances of his talmid, the great Chozeh of Lublin sent a messenger to his house with enough money to make the necessary purchases for the yom tov, including wine and matzos. The Radoshitzer sincerely and joyfully thanked Hashem for His bounty, especially since he didn’t have to renege on his pledge not to ask others for help. He was especially grateful that the blessing had come through such a holy source as his revered rebbe, the Chozeh of Lublin.

Everything was beautifully prepared for the seder night, and the Radoshitzer celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervor and yiras shamayim and simcha, reaching elevated spiritual levels. At the conclusion of the seder, he read Shir HaShirim, as is customary, and then spent the entire night in devoted service of Hashem. Without going to sleep, the Radoshitzer went directly to shul in the morning, came home from the yom tov seudah, and returned to shul to learn.

By the time he returned home for the second seder, R’ Yissochor Ber was exhausted, and he went to rest for a few minutes. He felt he needed some sleep to renew his strength.

As soon as he lay down, however, he immediately fell into a deep sleep, and only awoke close to chatzos. The Radoshitzer was distraught; there was not much time left before the Afikoman had to be consumed. R’ Yissochor Ber hurriedly went through the rituals of the seder, omitting all singing, commentary, and divrei Torah, barely making the deadline for consuming the Afikoman.

Needless to say, the Radoshitzer was brokenhearted. He had made a very simple seder, hardly appropriate even for the simplest Jew. He was pained the entire yom tov by the unpleasant turn of events.

The Radoshitzer went to the Chozeh for the yom tov of Shavuos, who promptly commented on the events of the Pesach sedarim. “I want you to know,” he said, “that there are other sedarim that were like yours the first night. But the second seder illuminated the heavenly spheres.” The Chozeh of Lublin explained that often when a person is low and downtrodden and feels that his service of Hashem is inconsequential, it actually reaches the uppermost heights.


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Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, a prominent rav and Torah personality, is a daily radio commentator who has authored over a dozen books, and a renowned speaker recognized for his exceptional ability to captivate and inspire audiences worldwide.