Friday Candle Lighting: 4:31 pm
Shabbat Ends: 5:20 pm
Kids Chanukah Party @ Castle Park Dec. 27, 2016
A Problem of Peace
“And Yaakov dwelled…” (37:1)
The Midrash explains that Yaakov wanted to “dwell” in tranquility, and so G-d sprang upon him the troubles of Yosef.
What was this tranquility that Yaakov wanted, and why was he prevented from having it?
The Talmud (Berachot 64a) describes the different expressions appropriate for taking leave from the living and the dead. When one leaves a dead person, one should say “Go with peace!”, but one should say to a living person, “Go to peace!”
The English translation of the word for “peace” — “shalom” — doesn’t capture the nuance of one of shalom’s most important meanings, which is “completion” or “perfection”.
The blessing that we give a living person is that they should “go to shalom”. Because their life is still storm-tossed with the challenges of this world; challenges that are necessary for them to achieve their shleimut, their perfection, we bless them they should achieve this. That they should go “to” peace.
A person who has left this world has already garnered up as much perfection as he was able, and thus our blessing is that he should take that perfection with him: “Go with shalom!” Go with the peace that you have already achieved in this world.
Yaakov Avinu thought that after all the stress and problems of his life, G-d would not challenge him further, and he looked forwarded to dwelling in tranquility with the fruits of his efforts in this world.
The troubles of Yosef were sprung upon him to teach him that he had still more to achieve here in this world. He was still going “to peace” and not “with peace.”
- Sources: Rabbi Yehoshua Malko on the Rambam as seen in “Shollal Rav”