Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Vayishlach

Find Serenity

Our father Yaakov lives in a very violent and dangerous world. Escaping from Lavan and his treacheries, he falls into a wrestling match with an angel and an actual encounter with Eisav, who apparently is determined to kill him. Extricating himself from these difficulties, bruised, wounded and slightly poorer materially for the events, Yaakov then suffers the tragedy of his daughter Dina being kidnapped and assaulted and the resultant war that his sons, led by Shimon and Levi, conduct against the leaders and citizens of Shechem.

Yaakov is appalled by the violence perpetrated by his sons but is apparently powerless to limit it. Even on his deathbed he will reprimand Shimon and Levi for their violent nature and behavior. This parsha therefore turns into a litany of tragedies and untoward events that befall Yaakov. I have always felt that when Yaakov told the Pharaoh that “my years have been few and bad” he was referring to this week’s parsha and its events.

It certainly seems that any assessment of Yaakov’s life, based on the events of this week’s parsha, must certainly be a bleak one, full of shade with very little light shining through. Yet in the assessment of Jewish history and rabbinic tradition, Yaakov’s life is seen as a triumph and success. He is the one who takes a family and builds it into a nation. He takes thirteen disparate children, each one with a distinct personality and differing goals and welds them into the people of Israel. He imbues them with the belief of monotheism, good purpose and probative behavior, in spite of their living in a world of paganism and dissolute behavior.

Yaakov is strengthened in his belief by the promises made to him by God many years earlier in his life, before he embarked on his fateful journey to Aram. He never questioned the validity of God’s support of him, of his eventual salvation and survival, no matter how difficult the circumstances. In this he is the paradigm of all future Jewish existence that mimics his life and circumstances.

Jewish life and events can be characterized as always being one of “out of the fire into the frying pan.” There never seems to be a letup, a respite from the challenges and dangers that constantly arise. Yet we Jews are constantly aware of God’s promise that He will never completely forsake us and that within us is the ability of being an eternal and constantly renewed people.

Being a loyal and Torah abiding Jew can create within each of us a sense of serenity and harmony. However, as a nation and people, such a pleasant passage through the waters of human history is unlikely. It is natural for us to wish that this would somehow be otherwise. But the events of the life of Yaakov stare us in the face. They chart our course in life as well. Faith in God and the will to persevere under all circumstances define our goals and hopes in this difficult world in which we live. For, after all, we are all the children of Yaakov.

Shabat shalom.

Rabbi Berel Wein


Rabbi Berel Wein- Jewish historian, author and international lecturer offers a complete selection of CDs, audio tapes, video tapes, DVDs, and books on Jewish history at www.rabbiwein.com


 






ARTICLES ON NOACH:

View Complete List

Law and Order
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5760

What a Deal!
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760

Great In His Own Times
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein - 5768

ArtScroll

New Stage, Old Actors
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

Beyond Youth
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

Beshegam Hu Moshe?
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5767

> Intellectual Beliefs
Shlomo Katz - 5758

Now -A Hopeful Place
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

The Flood
Shlomo Katz - 5769

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Not Just Despite, but Because of!
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5759

The Day Falsehood Married Destruction
Shlomo Katz - 5761

From Life
Rabbi Label Lam - 5773

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Go the Distance!
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5762

Saved From a Rainy Day
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

People In Stone Houses Should not Cast Bricks
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5774

G-d's Message for All Humanity
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information