I heard a very nice schmooze today from the Moshgiach of the yeshiva I went to.
He asked an interesting question. A few weeks ago, Yaakov finally settled down in Eretz Yisroel, hoping to raise his family in peace and quiet. That, we learn, was something that Hashem was not such a fan of. Shortly after, Yosef was sold to Egypt, and the rest of his sons split apart and began to live by themselves. It was a period of great turmoil. Yet, in this week’s parsha, we see that Yaakov lived in Egypt for 17 years, and Chazal say that those were 17 years of peace and quiet.
So… why did Yaakov get hit for wanting peace and quiet earlier, yet was granted peace and quiet now?
It’s well known that Hashem wanted Yaakov to learn that this world is about “the battle”. There is no rest and relaxation. It’s about the constant fight against the Yetzer Horah. That is why tribulations fell on him earlier. But here… here was something different, says the Moshgiach.
The Jewish people were about to enter 400 years of slavery. Slavery that we never saw before or after. Before sending us into that situation, he wanted us to have time of happiness and growth. By having those good times, the nation would be able to survive the bad.
When people would ask the Moshgiach’s mother, “You survived the Holocaust. You went through Auschwitz… how could you remain religious after all of that?” She would reply, “Why would I NOT? I had a beautiful childhood! I grew up enjoying Torah, enjoying the mitzvos. To go through all of that, why would I NOT want to return??”
He continued and explained that in order for our children to survive the tough times in life, they must have a happy beginning. The importance of having peace in the house, love between the parents, love between them and the children… these times of happiness and calm, will help them through times of hardship. They will always remember, in the darkest times, that they had a loving and caring family. They will always remember that when they learned or did mitzvos at home, it was done in an enjoyable fashion.
One cannot compare a stable family that goes through difficult times to an unstable family that goes through the exact same difficulties. And that is what Hashem wanted to give us before giving us the difficult times. A strong, loving and caring beginning, will carry anybody far in life, no matter how difficult things get.
Have a great Shabbos!