Rabbi Yonah Burr
Vayigash: Dedicating Our Feelings to Hashem!
ויאסר יוסף מרכבתו ויעל לקראת ישראל אביו גשנה וירא אליו ויפל על צואריו ויבך על צואריו עוד
And Yosef prepared his carriage and went up to greet Yisroel, his father, towards Goshen. And he appeared to him, and fell upon his neck, and cried upon his need immensely.
It has been decades since Yaakov has seen his beloved son Yosef. Yaakov admits that he has despaired of ever seeing him again. For the past twenty-two years Yaakov has been mourning his loss, both on a personal level, as well as on a spiritual level. Yaakov knew that he was supposed to establish the twelve tribes of Israel, and with the sudden disappearance of Yosef, he felt total rejection and failure. Yaakov was concerned that this indicated that he would lose his share in the world to come as well. Our Sages tell us that in addition to all of this, Yaakov’s despondency caused the Divine Spirit to leave him, and didn’t experience the same closeness to Hashem that he did in the past.
At first, Yaakov had trouble believing that Yosef was actually alive and well; it was only the reference to the learning that they had done together that convinced him that it was actually true.
Finally, the great reunion was scheduled to happen. Yosef, in spite of his stature and prestige, insisted on personally readying his carriage, and ran to greet his father. As expected, it was an intense emotional experience, and brought Yosef to immense weeping.
Rashi points out an interesting thing; it seems from the possuk that only Yosef took an active role, of embracing his father, and weeping. Yaakov, on the other hand, seemed to be completely passive. Rashi explains that Yaakov was reciting the Shema. Why of all times was Yaakov reciting the Shema?!
The meforshim explain that Yaakov was feeling such strong emotions of love and thanks that he wanted to dedicate them to Hashem; ‘I am feeling such love right now, such feelings of gratitude, let me take these feelings and channel them towards Hashem’. Through these feelings, Yaakov wanted to grow spiritually.
The Balai Mussar teach us that this is something we can incorporate into our lives as well. If we are feeling sad or distressed, we can use these feelings productively as well. Let’s imagine, this is probably how Hashem feels, having the Beis Hamikdash destroyed, and his children in galus. Let’s use these tears, and channel them towards the pain of the Shechina! Elevating our feelings of pain into a growth opportunity. And certainly, during times of joy and happiness, to dedicate some of that happiness and channel it into love of Hashem.
Including Hashem in our everyday feelings is a tremendous way to gain a connection and mature in our emotional relationship with Hashem!
Have a wonderful Shabbos