VayechiWomen’s Torah Portion

Can I Have More Pain? Bring it On!

There’s a story of a man that went to visit a great rabbi to get a blessing. He suffered immensely in his life and wanted a blessing to get some reprieve from all his suffering. He waited in the anteroom for his turn and fell asleep from the fatigue of his travels. He had a dream. A truck was coming and he wanted the driver to stop and take him. “Are you going to the heavenly court? I need a ride there”, the man asked the driver. The driver said he was going there but the truck is so full of the sins of someone named ‘Yankele’ that there was no room for passengers.

“Yankele; that’s me!” the man exclaimed. Another truck passed by then a third and a fourth all with the same story; they were too full carrying the sins of someone named Yankele. Somehow he gets a ride to the heavenly court and the prosecutor starts rattling off all the sins he did as they get unloaded from the trucks and onto the massive scale weighing them. The side of his sins is buckling from the load and Yankele was mortified. The prosecutor clapped his hands with glee as the man had far more sins than merit. The defending attorney then called upon all the pain and suffering the man experienced and they all started piling up on the merit side and started to balance the scales. The scales were almost balanced but the bad deeds still outweighed the merits. The pain and suffering were only trickling in now. The man shouted:  “Pain please come and balance the scales…Where are you?”…

The assistant of the great rabbi said; “Hello can you hear me? It’s your turn to speak to the great rabbi”… But the man awoke startled and he said: “Thank you, but I don’t need it anymore, I’ve got to go!” He left and from that day onwards he was happy with all that befell him in life.

Our sages tell us that our forefather Jacob merited being happy and content during his last years even though he was living in Egypt at the time. “And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt 17 years.”  Living means life, happiness and closeness to G-d. But how did Jacob merit this in Egypt of all places? Egypt is the place with the most impurity, idolatry and a culture totally foreign to Jacob and his ideals?

Our sages teach us a great point. Jacob revealed the light of truth that lights up happiness and gratitude in life specifically in Egypt, the darkest place he could be in! Specifically in the place of future exile, punishment, sins and tests, pain and affliction is where Jacob reaches his perfection and fulfills his eternal mission!

Every Jew has great upheavals and setbacks in life but we must entrench in our hearts the deep understanding that precisely from dealing with the greatest difficulties on our lives is the place we grow the most both spiritually and physically. The greatest light bursts forth from within the fearful darkness. If we internalize this we will merit the fulfillment of the verse in the prophet: “Come my light for your light has come and the honor of G-d will shine upon you!”
Shabbat Shalom! Rabbanit Chagit Amayev


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