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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Yonah Burr

Vayeshev: Taking it Easy

וישב יעקב בארץ מגורי אביו בארץ כנען

Yaakov settled in the land of his father’s sojournings, in the land of Canaan

Rashi, citing the Medrash, sees in this possuk a subtle criticism of Yaakov.

"ביקש יעקב לישב בשלוה קפץ עליו רוגזו של יוסף. צדיקים מבקשים לישב בשלוה אמר הקב"ה לא דיין לצדיקים מה שמתוקן להם לעוה"ב אלא שבמקשים לישב בשלוה בעוה"ז!"

Yaakov was hoping to settle in tranquility: instead, the crisis of Yosef pounced upon him. The righteous seek to live in tranquility; says Hashem, ‘is it not sufficient that the righteous will gain the world to come, that they also wish to live tranquilly in this world!

The Klei Yakar sees this hinted to in the change of expression: Yaakov ‘settled’ in the land of his father’s ‘sojournings’. Yaakov settled where Avraham wandered. Avraham did not seek rest, while Yaakov sought to live in tranquility.

The question is how are we to understand Yaakov’s intentions? Can we possibly say or even think for one minute that Yaakov was somehow seeking to ‘slack off’ from his Avodas Hashem!? Yaakov, whose image is engraved on the Throne of Glory, Yaakov who experienced the vision of the ladder, Yaakov who was the pillar of Torah and Truth, taking a break!

Rav Schwab z”l offers a powerful insight: we find that the work of the Avos was to spread the word of Hashem in the world. Avraham would travel, and build wells, invite people- all for the purpose of bringing the Honor of Hashem into the world. Yitzchak as well, in his way, lived a life of Kiddush Hashem, and became a role model for the fear of Heaven. Yaakov as well. Yaakov devoted his life to maintaining his integrity with Lavan, struggling with Eisav, and showing the way to live a life of Torah.

Sometimes someone so involved in ‘public life’ eventually feels that the time has come to work on themselves. ‘I would like to involve myself in my own Avodah, work on myself and develop my own levels, as a private individual’.

Of course, Yaakov was planning on continuing his intense service, but on a more personal level. To this Hashem says, no, whatever your purpose in this world is, keep at it, and don’t look to do something else. This is what you were created for, and this is how you will grow.

On a smaller scale, this applies to each of us as well. Often, we sense what our tafkid is, but sometimes second guess ourselves that perhaps we should be doing something else. Sometimes these thoughts are justified, but sometimes they are just a desire to ‘take it easy’.

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

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