Shabbat Parashat Vayeishev| 5771
Parashat Hashavuah: Yaakov Desired to Live in Tranquility(Harav Shaul Yisraeli - from Siach Shaul, pp. 118-120)
Our parasha opens: “Yaakov lived in the land of his father’s dwelling” (Bereishit 37:1). Rashi (ad loc.:2) comments famously that Yaakov desired to live in tranquility. Ostensibly, who could blame him after the difficulties with Eisav, Lavan, and Dina? However, our forefather, who served as a forerunner for our nation, was not able to have his wish granted.
A new storyline begins to unfold, one which will spread over several parshiyot, and it brings to fruition the prophecy said to Avraham that his offspring would be strangers in a land that was not their own and that they would be tormented there. Chazal (Bereishit Rabba 84:3) so appropriately put Yaakov’s feelings into the words of Iyov (3:26): “I did not have tranquility, (from Eisav), and I did not have quiet (from Lavan), and I did not rest (from Dina), and agitation came (from Yosef).”
While the Hand of Hashem was certainly behind the playing out of the events, Chazal saw Yaakov responsible for the more direct cause and effect of what transpired, in that he desired to live in tranquility. A person is more likely to see stumbling blocks that arise before him from external causes and is less likely to notice those that are self-imposed, and that is a danger.
The similarities between Yaakov and his son, Yosef, are striking (as Midrash Rabba 84:6 points out). Of the dozen of similarities mentioned, the most critical might be that each was hated by his brother(s) to the point that the latter wanted to kill him. This is the nature of hatred - not only a wicked man like Eisav might contemplate killing his brother, but even the fathers of the tribes could, under certain circumstances, come to such a situation. The problem was that Yaakov, clinging to the hope/belief that he had finally reached an end to the tests he had to pass, was lax in his vigilance against disaster. If he had been as careful as he had been when he encountered Eisav, he could have nipped the hatred between Yosef and his brothers in the bud. Granted, Bnei Yisrael would have had to go into exile in some way, but it would have come about without his active or passive involvement. It was the desire for a respite in his struggles that brought on the very type of problem he was trying to avoid.
We have been trying to learn this lesson throughout the generations, and we need to learn it in our generation as well. In
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