Weekly Dvar Torah on the Parsha
December 7, 2017
“Chessed begins at home”
In the opening verse of this week’s Parsha Rashi points out that Yaakov was punished with the aggravation of the story of Yosef because he wanted to live with tranquility and requested so from Hashem in which Hashem answered “is it not enough what you have in allotted for you in the world to come?!”. (Rashi 37:2)
This is mind boggling. Let’s try to picture this: Yaakov according to calculations (which we will not get into) was 106 years old at this time. Let’s rewind 106 years, Yaakov was born and as the Torah tells us, they fought in their mother’s womb. He was then born and immediately quarrels with his twin brother over the birthrights. Then, he gets older and he disputes with his future father-in-law over marrying his daughter which results in him having to work 7 years and then work again. After all, he simply wanted to get married! What is wrong with the fact that he wants to have somewhat of a relaxed life. And we know he wanted to sit and study Torah, not relax and do nothing? Was his request from Hashem so outlandish that he was punished??! What is the basic understanding of this Midrash quoted in Rashi?
Perhaps we can explain this with a small introduction. As human beings, we have an in-born challenge which we face every day. That is “getting along with your fellow”. There are two groups where this challenge may arise. There is with ‘out’ and there is with ‘in’. The outcome of the ‘with out’ is indeed to keep them out. That for us as Jews, is our enemies. Starting with number one the evil inclination. No one will say that we need to “get along” with our Yetzer Harah. Our purpose in life is to constantly fight him and NOT get along with him. The same with our physical enemies, the Arabs—we draw the line and we fight them..
The second scenario where the challenge arise is “with in”. This is referring to family, your people, and your community. This is where it’s most challenging. The old, famous saying of “Chessed begins in the home” can’t be more right. How many times can you come across a person who seems like a great person so loved by many while with him and his family it’s turmoil! To live and to succeed in making sure your family is one, your achdus as a person together with your people, your community and most important, your family is a tremendous accomplishment!
Hashem saw that Yaakov was very suited to become the next Patriarch of His nation. He fought Esav and kept him away. He fought Lavan and kept him out… etc.…which was great. However, what Hashem has yet to see was that his own family was perfect, that with in his very own home all was well. Hashem had to see that Yaakov can lead his family to achdus and then be ready to lead Klal Yisroel. Hashem said “I see you suffered much, but I still don’t determine you as ready just yet. Let’s see how you handle your family when all of your sons turn against Yosef for jealousy reasons. Once I see that, THEN I know you are ready!”
This is something which we possibly face every single day. Our workplaces can be peaceful and serene yet our home can have strife G-d forbid. On Chanukah, which note is always on the earliest week of the year when it’s the onset of the winter months, and is the only mitzvah that isn’t performed ideally in Shul rather at home. Why is this done “ner ish Ubeiso” (specifically at one’s home)?
When the Greeks came to fight they weren’t coming with the intention to fight like all other enemies in the history which was to kill and wipe out. They came on a spiritual mission HATMAIM BYAD TEHORIM. They wanted so badly to come into our homes and mess things up. To come into our shuls and take away bris Milah, Shabbos and all the Mitzvahs which make us Achdus and family. This was the challenge that Yaakov passed after the story with Yosef. This is the challenge which we constantly face. Chanuka, with all the parties, when we ignite the light in our homes and specifically in our houses, we must learn that Chessed begins at home.
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