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Parashat Vayeshev


Jacob, after successfully escaping Lavan’s house and his epic confrontation with his brother Esav, finally returns to his ancestral home, the land of his youth, with his large family and great wealth intact.

His entire life was filled with conflict and strife and now he wanted to finally lead a peaceful and idyllic life. Little did he know that his greatest challenge lay ahead with the disappearance of his beloved son Joseph.

Our sages comment that Heaven declared “Is it not enough that the righteous have the next world, that they also seek serenity in this world too!”

This small but powerful statement clarifies how our great sages understood the focus of life to be one of growth and achievement, not vacation and retirement.

While there is no doubt that Jacob would have utilized a life without challenges for his spiritual development, the greatness he achieved despite the challenges and troubles was much greater and more meaningful, as The Mishna says: “The reward is commensurate to the challenge and pain” or to put it in today’s language, “No pain no gain”.

We are all put here on earth to fulfill a purpose and not just to seek a life of pleasure and relaxation. However, if you happen to be amongst the very few to be blessed with a life without turmoil, you may certainly enjoy it and hopefully use it to enhance your spiritual self and not just your golf swing.