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Parashat Vayeshev - 5774

My friends,

This Shabbat we read the portion of Vayeshev. It contains many stories, the most important being the story of Joseph and his brothers. It is a familiar story - favoritism, Joseph's dreams, gossip, sibling rivalry, anger, etc. I would like to concentrate on a Midrash commentary on the first two verses of this Parasha:

1) Vayeshev Yaakov Be-Eretz Megurei Aviv, Be-Eretz Canaan - Jacob dwelt in the land of his father's sojourning, the Land of Canaan.

2) These are the generations of Jacob: Joseph was seventeen year old, and he was feeding the flock with his brothers, being still a lad, even with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father's wives. And Joseph brought evil report of them to his father.

It would seem that this Parasha, which is mostly about Joseph and his brothers, should begin with verse two. Verse one does not add anything to the story. The Midrash explains it this way:

Vayeshev Yaakov - 'Lashevet' in Hebrew means to sit down, to settle in, to relax. Jacob sought to relax, to find some peace and relaxation after all the tumultuous years he has gone thru. G-d was not pleased and brought upon Jacob all the troubles caused by Joseph. That's why Jacob's desire for some respite is followed by, "Joseph was seventeen years old," etc.

In our own lives, sometimes, we feel like we have done enough, and it's time to just relax and let the burden fall on others. This is the time of the year when we get calls from fundraisers to come forward and help again, and it may feel natural to just say, "I have done enough, let others give." We are called upon to volunteer and help others. And again we might feel like we have done enough, we just want to be left alone. Jacob felt the same way, but trouble came around, as if to say that doing good things has no time limit. We must continue to help as long as we are able to. I am certain that we can apply this philosophy to many aspects of our lives.

May Hashem give you the strength to continue doing good things for many years to come.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram