Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Shabbos Chanukah - Parshas Vayeishev #1

ועוד נדרש בו וישב ביקש יעקב לישב בשלוה, קפץ עליו רוגזו של יוסף. צדיקים מבקשים לישב בשלוה אומר הקב"ה לא דיין "לצדיקים מה שמתוקן להם לעולם הבא, אלא שמבקשים לישב בשלוה בעולם הזה

“Another Midrashic exposition: "[Yaakov] settled." Yaakov was seeking to live in tranquility, when the troubles of Yoseif were thrust upon him. [Whenever] the righteous seek to live in tranquility, G-d says, "Is it not sufficient for the righteous [to have] what has been prepared for them in the World-to-Come that they should also want to live in tranquility in this world?”
Rashi to Sefer Bereishis, 37:2

Presumably, when Yaakov asks to live his live in tranquility, he isn’t asking to play football until the end of days; rather, he is probably asking that he should live a life without tzuris and in peace. Why such the harsh reaction by Hashem?

If we look at the problems between Yosef and his brothers, it all seems to have stemmed from the fact that Yaakov gave Yosef (Joseph) the “Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” The brothers became jealous and eventually plotted to kill him. Where did Yaakov get off treating Yosef better than any of his other sons, singling him out to be the one to receive the dreamcoat? The Tiferes Yonasan explains what Yaakov’s intentions were: Yaakov, while he married Leah first, really wanted to marry Rachel first. If he had his wish and this was the way history would’ve played out, then Yosef would’ve been his first born son, as Yosef was Rachel’s first born. So, if we’re following the rule of “basar machshava” (that we follow what one thinks), Yosef was his first born, and he then had every right to treat him better than the other brothers. But if you follow the rule of “basar maisah” (that we follow what one actually does – ie, he REALLY married Leah first, so in reality, Yosef WASN’T his first born).

Back to our original question of what Yaakov was really asking for when he said that he wanted to live the rest of his life in tranquility. Where did he get the idea of living his life in tranquility? Says the Tiferes Yonasan, he didn’t just stam get the idea to live in tranquility; rather, he was just asking for the bracha that he received from his father (Yitzchak) to come to fruition. Yitzchak’s bracha to Yaakov was that he should receive “the dew of heaven, and of the fatness [riches] of the land, and abundance of grain and wine.” Essentially, the blessing was that he should live a good life; this was what Yaakov was asking from Hashem when he spoke of living in tranquility.

But let’s think about it like this. Yitzchak’s bracha wasn’t really meant for Yaakov – it was meant for Eisav. So in order for Yaakov to have received the bracha from Yitzchak, that would’ve meant that we follow the principle “basar maisah”, as this was what ACTUALLY happened – Yaakov got the bracha. But then if you say that we follow the principle of “basar maiseh”, then LEMAISAH Yosef wasn’t his son, and he therefore had no right to treat him better than any of the other brothers. And if you want to say that Yaakov did good by treating Yaakov better, then we must follow the principle of “basar machshava”, as we saw with the whole vort about Yaakov really wanting to marry Rachel first. But if we follow the principle of “basar machshava”, then the bracha given by Yitzchak wasn’t really given to Yaakov, it would’ve been given to Yitzchak; and then we can say that Yitzchak had no precedent for asking for a life of tranquility. Therefore, he gets the reaction from Hashem that he does.

We see from the fact that Yaakov was punished with all of the tzuris of Yosef and his brothers that he didn’t do right by treating Yosef better than the rest; therefore, we see that we follow the concept of “basar maiseh”. The practical lesson is that while machshavos (thoughts/intentions) are a good start, we have to do maisehs, we have to act on those intentions. How many times have your friends said, “I meant to call you last night.” Does that count as actually calling you? Perhaps it’s better than nothing that you thought to call me, but no phone call is no phone call. It’s easy to have the proper intentions and the proper motivations, but putting them into action is a different story. To end off this monstrosity of a d’var Torah, I think there is a clear connection to Chanukah.

There is the unique halacha brought down by the Rambam saying that if one can’t afford Chanukah candles, he must go around begging for money, and even go as far as selling the shirt off of his back. Everyone asks why this is the case. The answer of the Avnei Nezer fits in perfectly with what we are saying. A poor person, when unable to afford things for mitzvos (ie. Lulav, esrog, etc.) could say to himself, “I have the proper machshava. I want to do this mitzvah, but I’m too poor, so what can I do.” The lesson here is that at the end of the day, it’s our actions that count, not merely our machshavos. May the light of the Chanukah menorah inspire us to act on our pure intentions.


Anonymous BOTS member said...

I think there is a typo. It says the brachos from Yitzchak were meant for Yitzchak. Did you mean to say they were meant for Eisav?

8:41 AM, December 14, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

Ahh yes, you're right. Thanks for keeping me on my toes. Unfortunately, my work web filter has filtered so I can't log on now to change it. Interesting, the original site ( still works.

8:44 AM, December 14, 2006


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