Vayaishev 2005

The Parsha begins with the words Vayaishev Yaakov – and Yaakov dwelled in the land of his fathers’… The sages tell us that this is much more than just a historical fact. The Torah is describing a mind set of Jacob at this juncture in his life. Vayaishev Yaakov, - Jacob wanted to have a calm moment; Jacob wanted to be able to live in peace and tranquility. He wanted to be able to have a calm, uneventful life. Hashem observed this mind set, and criticized it. “ Isn’t it enough for the righteous that they have a share in the world to come? Does he also need to have an easy life in this world? Immediately the troubles of Joseph started to befall Jacob.

Isn’t this astounding? Does Jacob seem to have such an unreasonable request? Does it bother Hashem if a righteous person has a little easier life in this world?

Rav Leib Chasman explains the lesson being conveyed here with a basic question. If we would ask a person, “what do you need in this world to be able to be very devoted to Hashem, to be very righteous and spiritual”? Our answer would be that we need a spacious house, a separate study to learn Torah, a tremendous library, a nice level of income, perfect health,…

Hashem doesn’t want a person to feel that serving Him is in any dependent on having physical success. Indeed, the greatest Torah commentaries that were written in our history were written under the most trying of circumstances. Hashem wants to see us shine and do our best in the particular, individual situation that He puts us in. Jacob had lived through very trying circumstances in his life. His brother wanted to kill him; his father-in-law cheated him a hundred times, and then chased him with the intent of wiping out his whole family, his brother than approached him with a huge army, his daughter was taken by Shechem... After all that, Hashem still wanted Jacob to grow more. The way for that to happen was dependent on Jacob having more challenges in life. Doing mitzvohs when it’s easy doesn’t help us become a better Jew; it doesn’t make us develop and utilize the potential that we possess. We certainly do not look for challenges; however, when they do come our way we must recognize that Hashem is sending us an opportunity to draw closer to Him by perfecting ourselves and observing His commandments in all situations.