IDF and civilians
IDF and civiliansOz Vehadar

We read, at the beginning of our parasha, (37:1):’Yaakov dwelt in the land of his father’s sojourning, in the land of Canaan’.

The parasha then continues to relate the tale of Yosef, and his disaffection from his brothers.

Our Sages comment on the juxtaposition of these two matters, as Rashi brings:’Dwelt’: When Yaakov sought to dwell in tranquility, the troubles of Yosef sprang upon him. The righteous seek to dwell in tranquility. Said the Holy One:’What is prepared for the righteous in the world to come is not sufficient for them, but they seek also to dwell in tranquility in this world!’.

Rav Baruch Halevi Epstein, in his sefer ‘Tosefet Bracha’, expounds on this Rashi, noting:’The word וישב bears two meanings: sitting, as distinct from standing, AND settling in a place in peace and tranquility - which meaning it bears, can be learned from the context in which it appears.

‘Here, where the pasuk says וישב יעקב: ‘and Yaakov dwelt’, it clearly has the second meaning.’

Might we add, that this is reinforced from the continuation of the pasuk, where the dwelling of Yitzchak is referred to as ארץ מגורי אביו: ‘ the land where Yitzchak dwelt as a גר, which, as we learned in Yaakov’s words to Esav: עם לבן גרתי: ‘with Laban I dwelled’, refers to a different quality of dwelling, one of alienation, in a land not yours, in complete contrast to one of peace and tranquility.

The Alshich Hakadosh expounds:’How strange that the righteous should be punished, for seeking tranquility in this life - why should they not enjoy the fruits of their Torah and mitzvot in this life, and still merit the קרן: principal, in the world to come!

‘I have heard those who answer, that the fault was that Yaakov ‘sought’ (to dwell in tranquility), rather than just desiring it, since - whilst it is permitted to desire something - the righteous do not ‘seek’ it, but trust that Hashem will provide that which is for their good.

‘Out of His love for the righteous, Hashem does not want them to ‘consume’ the fruits of their toil in this world, because all the fruits of this world are passing, and, the reward Hashem wants to give them, is to transform these physical rewards into spiritual rewards - which are enduring - in the world to come.

‘Therefore, He does not want them to ‘waste’ this eternal reward, in the pursuit of tranquility in this world.

‘Another, literal, elucidation: let us note the seemingly unnecessary words ‘the land of his father’s sojournings’ - it could have simply said: ‘the land of Canaan’.

‘To better understand this, let us recollect the Divine decree, told to Avraham, which started out with גרות: being aliens in a land not theirs, and concluded with the tidings of affliction and enslavement there.

‘The decree of four hundred years was, by Hashem’s chesed, to be reckoned from the birth of Yitzchak, the decree of being in a land not theirs, and the decree of affliction, being separate, in the original decree.

‘This is alluded to by the double words of the original decree to Avraham: ידוע תדע: ‘know you shall know’ - two separate things you are to know: one, that you will be in a land not yours, starting from Yitzchak who is to be your seed, and, second, when your seed multiplies and you become a people, then the affliction and bondage will begin - the combined period of these two separate periods will be four hundred years.

‘Therefore, had Yaakov now dwelt in tranquility, and settled in the land where his father, Yitzchak, was but ‘a sojourner’, there would be a great loss to Bnei Israel, as this period of tranquility would not be reckoned in the four hundred years - being neither alienation, nor affliction.

‘To prevent this, Yaakov’s desire to live in tranquility could not be permitted, and so, instead, the exile to Egypt, and affliction, immediately unfolded, by the occurrence of the strife between Yosef and his brothers.’

Rav Zalman Sororzkin expounds along the same lines, if in a much condensed form:’The four hundred year decree had already started with the birth of Yitzchak, as even Avraham viewed himself as a גר: a sojourner’, not a resident, even when he dwelt in one place for a considerable period of time, as the Torah relates: ( 21:34)’ויגר: And Avraham dwelt in the land of Plishtim for many days’, yet still considered himself there as a גר: ‘a sojourner’.

‘It had already been decreed that Yaakov should descend to Egypt, but this could have been fulfilled immediately prior to his death - but only if he considered himself as being in גרות, wherever he was, as this would have satisfied the decree.

‘However, now that he sought to dwell in tranquility - not in גרות - these years would not have counted towards the four hundred year decree; therefore ‘the troubles of Yosef sprung upon him’ prematurely, and Yaakov and his sons, measure-for-measure, descended prematurely, to Egypt.’

The Kli Yakar offers a different elucidation as to the ‘punishment’ of Yaakov Avinu, for seeking to dwell in tranquility.

‘Why’, he asks rhetorically, does the Torah relate that Yaakov dwelt ‘in the land of Canaan’, instead of, just, ‘the land of his father’s sojournings’?

‘The answer is, because Yaakov is accused of seeing himself as a permanent denizen of this world, in the place where his father was but ‘a sojourner’ - unlike his father, who saw this world as a temporary stop, on the way to his real place, the world to come.

‘Indeed, this was Hashem’s command to him:(26:3)’גור: dwell in this land’ - Hashem chose the word גור, to instruct him that His will was that he not seek a permanent dwelling in this world.

‘Clearly this could not have referred to the land of Canaan, as Yitzchak was indeed a resident - not an alien - in that land, as it was his inheritance - so what did Hashem allude to, in telling him ‘גור: dwell in the land’, as an alien?

‘Hashem therefore alluded to this world, that here he should not seek to dwell in it in tranquility; alas, Yaakov had not learned this lesson, and to set him on the right track, ‘the troubles of Yosef sprung upon him’.

Might this not also be the underlying teaching of the Gemara (Sanhedrin 106.) on our pasuk:’’וישב יעקב: ‘and Yaakov dwelt’: in every place that וישב is written, it is always the language of sorrow, as in our pasuk, where it is immediately followed by ‘and Yosef brought evil tales about them to their father’.’

Might the ‘sorrow’ also allude to the sorrow of our Heavenly father, that, by seeking tranquility in this world, they are, as it were, ‘diminishing’ the real tranquility that Hashem had intended for them, in the world-to-come?

Rav Baruch Halevi Epstein, in Torah Temima, proffers a different explanation of this Gemara:’By seeking to dwell in tranquility in this life, they are not fulfilling their purpose, which is solely to repair the faults of this world.’

Rav Elchanan from Dolodok sweetens this insight, stating:’It is clearly right that the righteous should dwell in tranquility in this world, but not that they should ask for it; by asking, they appear to give too much importance to this world.

‘We find that our holy forefathers always considered themselves as גרים: sojourners in this world, even if they settled for a long period in a place, because the affairs of this world were, in their eyes, ephemeral and passing.’

Rav Gedalia Scharr offers a different insight into our subject:’Yaakov Avinu, in truth, was entitled to seek to dwell in tranquility, and we see that later he was given 17 years of tranquility, and our Sages say that these 17 years were ‘a taste of the world to come.

‘Yaakov therefore thought that now - in our parasha - that he had already endured so much travail, from Esav, Laban and Dinah, to now dwell in tranquility; however Hashem felt that he still needed to undergo more affliction, and brought the trouble of Yosef upon him.

‘This was because, even though in truth he merited to dwell in tranquility, when he took on the portion of Esav in the service of Hashem, he had to also fulfill that which was intended to be the role of Esav.

‘We can see this in that only after he took the brachot intended for Esav, Yaakov had to go into galut at the household of Laban, which was the first of four galuyot that were decreed.

‘This was essential, so that his generations would be able to survive in their galuyot throughout the centuries, and merit to enter the world to come, at their appointed time.’

The Chatam Sofer adds:’The righteous are prepared to endure being gerim, so long as they are able to serve Hashem in tranquility; however, this is not the will of Hashem, but rather that all our days we should be ‘walking’ and toiling, so that Hashem’s name be magnified in the world.’

This, expounded the Netivot Shalom, as we brought as to the message of Yaakov’s dream of the ladder, that ‘the ladder whose foot was earthward, and whose top reached skyward, that it was Hashem’s wish, that in all our endeavours in this world, we toil to elevate the mundane activities to sanctify Hashem’.

A parting thought from Rav Eliyahu Dessler:’Because, as the Torah testifies, Yaakov Avinu reached the level of completeness: ויבא יעקב שלם, he thought that he had completed the battle with his yetser ha’ra, and could therefore dwell in tranqility, having successfully contended with the many tests he faced.

‘Said Hakadosh Baruch Hu: is it not enough for the righteous what has been prepared for them in the world-to-come, that they also want to dwell in tranquility in this world? - the very fact that Yaakov Avinu should think that he had completed his battle with the yetser ha’ra, was in itself the objective of the yetser ha’ra.

‘To correct this flaw in Yaakov Avinu, Hashem brought upon him the trouble of Yosef, to teach Yaakov that this battle continues as long as man is in this life.’

לרפואת נועם עליזה בת זהבה רבקה ונחום אלימלך רפאל בן זהבה רבקה, בתוך שאר חולי עמנו.