jump to navigation

It’s a Tough World

Flower“Jacob dwelt in the land of his father’s sojourning, in the land of Canaan.” (Bereishit – Chapter 37:1)

Rashi explains that when Jacob sought to dwell in tranquility, the troubles of Joseph sprang upon him. The righteous seek to dwell in tranquility but said the Holy One, blessed be He, “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 Yerucham Levovitz, the great pre-WWII Mirrer mashgiach asks a difficult question. Which type of tranquility did Jacob desire? Surely, it was not tranquility in our terms. Jacob was requesting a life of hard work and self-sacrifice for Torah and mitzvoth. During the fourteen years that he served in the house of Eber, he did not lie down at night, because he was engaged in Torah study. (Gen. Rabbah 68:11) What was so terrible about requesting this sort of tranquility? He was only asking to not be oppressed by Laban or pursued by Eisav. What in truth was wrong with Jacob’s desire?

The answer is, that tribulations, difficulties and problems are the essential makeup of this this world. Hashem desires that we learn Torah and perform the mitvoth within the “smelting pot” of the tribulations in this world. It is only the mitvoth which are done under difficult circumstances which can lead us to greatness, purity and eventually the next word.

The house of Laban was the furnace which purified Jacob. When Jacob had to work another seven years to marry Rachel the Medrash compares the other ones to the first ones. Just as he worked for him during the first ones faithfully, so did he work for him during the other ones faithfully, even though Laban had dealt with him deceitfully. (Gen. Rabbah 70:20) Living amidst the lies, idol worship and lusts of Lavan brought Jacob to even greater heights.

The Medrash Rabbah, Numbers 19:1 explains that the purity of the next word actually comes forth from the impurity of this world.

Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Is it not the One? (Job XIV, 4) For example, Abraham out of Terah; Hezekiah out of Ahaz; Josiah out of Amon; Mordecai out of Shimei; Israel out of the idolaters; the future world out of this world. Who did this? Who commanded this? Who decreed this? Was it not the world’s Only One?

It is both important and helpful to understand that this world is overflowing with troubles, aggregation, hardships and filth. Our portion in the next world of illumination and purity is dependent on how we handle our things here. It is the next world where we will receive our true tranquility.

As Iyov 3:25 states – I was not at ease, neither was I quiet, and I did not rest, yet trouble came.

About the Author
Rabbi Eliyahu Mitterhoff is the director of the Global Yeshiva. The Global Yeshiva is devoted to creating a warm and friendly yet serious place for people of all levels to share and discuss Torah and Orthodox Judaism. He envisions this as a great and unprecedented historic opportunity to share, learn, teach and spread Torah on a global level.


no comments yet - be the first?