Friday, December 10, 2010

254 - Vayigash

When Yaakov meets Yosef after many years of separation, the Torah describes the emotional encounter. "And Yosef fell on his (Yaakov's) neck and he cried on his neck again" (Bereishis 46, 29). Rashi notes that the Torah only recounts how Yosef reacted while neglecting to tell us how Yaakov reacted. He explains that Yaakov did not fall on Yosef's neck nor did he kiss Yosef since he was busy reciting shema.

Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) comments that such behavior demonstrates the amazing level of menuchas hanefesh that defined Yaakov's character. Despite the fact that he had not seen his son for more than twenty years and had been under the impression that he had died many years earlier, nevertheless, when they were finally reunited, he did not lose his composure.

Nowadays, people have all but lost this middah of menuchas hanefesh. People are constantly busy. Many are caught up in feelings of depression. Many people act differently when they are together with a group of friends; they seem to change hats with their surroundings. They lack the menucha needed to define who they are without worrying what others will say about them. Some people simply can't come to terms with their faults and are always worried that other people will find out about them. Such behavior negates the possibility of them being satisfied with their lot and the menuchas hanefesh that such contentment brings along with it.

However, we must appreciate that menuchas hanefesh is an important middah in avodas Hashem. The Yeshiva in Kelm, which produced countless gedolim and ba'alei mussar, centered their avodah around the middah of menuchas hanefesh. Incorporating this middah is imperative to achieving shleimus, since it allows one to act in accordance with the Torah regardless of the situation in which he finds himself.

Yaakov Avinu perfected this middah, and hence he succeeded in perfecting himself. Although we are far from such shleimus, the least we can do in our quest toward attaining menuchas hanefesh is to focus primarily on our qualities instead of our faults. This will bring us to an awareness that we aren't as bad as we thought we were, and to feelings of confidence that will help in improving our avodas Hashem.

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