Vayigash: Growth From Hardship

December 23, 2022

How can we give encouragement to a person going through a crisis? How did G-d encourage Jacob on his way to a difficult exile in Egypt?

  1. Have No Fear

Joseph reveals his identity to  his brothers and asks them to return to the land of Canaan and bring Jacob with them to settle in the land of Egypt, where Joseph pledges to provide for them during the years of famine (Source 1).

Jacob fears the descent into Egypt and exile, but G-d reassures him and tells him not to be afraid (Source 2). Jacob prefers to follow in the footsteps of his father Isaac and stay in the land of Israel. Therefore, when he offers sacrifices, he offers them to the “G-d of his father Isaac” (Source 3), implying that he wishes to be like his father, Isaac who never left the Land of Israel.

The exile to Egypt was already a done deal. When G-d made a covenant with Abraham, He had told him that “your descendants will live in a land that is not theirs” (Source 4). G-d encourages Jacob at the beginning of the journey into exile.

  1. It’s All Worth It

In order for Jacob to go down to Egypt joyfully, G-d follows by saying that good things will come out of it: “I will make you into a great nation”, and “I will also bring you up” – that this experience will ultimately lead to redemption. (Source 5).

Why will these gains only happen as a result of exile?

The Rebbe Rashab said that the significant development of Chassidic teachings – the Alter Rebbe’s explanation of Chassidut in a manner intelligible and comprehensible to everyone – was a result of the imprisonment and suffering that the Alter Rebbe went through in prison in Petersburg, like an olive that only releases its oil after being crushed (Source 6).

This is also the case with every Jew. The Baal Shem Tov likens us to the earth. Just as wonderful treasures lie in the earth and one only needs to dig and discover them, so too does every Jew contain wonderful powers waiting to be discovered.

Chassidut compares exile to the sowing process: a large tree can grow from a seed, but only after the seed has fully rotted in the ground. If we keep the seed on a gold plate, nothing will grow from it. Similarly with regard to the meaning of exile: It is precisely through the nullification that occurs in exile that growth and redemption can occur.

  1. The gain is commensurate with the pain

This is also the reason why we say that if a person says “I didn’t work hard and I found success, do not believe him.” (Source 7). Seemingly, there are smart people who grasp matters quickly  without expending effort? The answer is that  without hard work  it is impossible to connect to our deep powers and strengths. Because only through labor/rot (i.e. nullification) comes growth.



Teaching aids

My account

Welcome Guest (Login)