Parshas VaYaishev

וַיֵּשֶׁב יַעֲקֹב בְּאֶרֶץ מְגוּרֵי אָבִיו בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן:(בראשית לז/א)

On the possuk “And Yaakov dwelled in the land….” Rashi explains, “Yaakov asked to live in tranquility, the troubles of Yosef sprang upon him. Tzaddikim seek tranquility. HaKodesh Baruch Hu said, “What is prepared for the tzaddikim in the world to come is not sufficient for them, that they seek [also] to dwell in tranquility in this world?!”

Zera Shimshon asks why did Hashem get angry at Yaakov for wanting to have his reward of Olam Haba in this world instead of waiting to receive it in the proper time; in the next world? We find in the medrash that Yaakov Avinu was so wealthy that it was as if he had a taste of Olam HaBa. We see from there that it IS possible to receive our reward for our good deeds in this world. Therefore why was it wrong that he wanted also to be tranquil in this world?

He answers that there is a difference between receiving reward and asking for it. For instance, it happens that sometimes a lender or worker will receive the money that is owed to him before it is due. When this happens obviously the lender or worker is very happy. Even though the one who owes the money sometimes does give it early, it is still improper for him to ask for it!

Therefore although Yaakov received wealth and he experienced a taste of Olam Haba it still wasn’t the right thing to ask for other sechar.

However the answer is still not complete. We still have to understand why Hashem got angry at Yaakov? He was upset with him to such a degree that He even punished him (with the troubles of Yosef). A boss (or one who borrowed money) doesn’t get angry when the one to whom he has to pay asks for the money owed to him before the due date, he just says that it is not possible.

He answers in light of a machlokes in the Gemrro Berachos concerning on who does Hashem bestow goodness in this world. RYochanan in the name of RYossi holds that Hahsem bestows good only on perfect tzaddikim. RMeir argues and holds that Hashem has mercy on people who he wants to be merciful towards them. We cannot understand the decisions and ways of Hashem and even absolute tzaddikim can suffer and absolute reshayim can enjoy life.

According to RMeir a person’s wealth and prosperity is no proof to his righteousness. It could be that even though that on the outside it seems that he is a great tzaddik, he is really sinful in his insides and Hashem has mercy on him and gives him a good life, independent of his true level. And a tzaddik who suffers could really be a total tzaddik who, for reasons known only to Hashem has a difficult life.

On the other hand according according to RYochanan a person who is prosperous and content with his life shows that he is a tzaddik and a person who suffers is certainly a rosho.

According to this, posits Zera Shimshon, a person who asks Hashem to give him his reward in this world is relying on RYochanan in the name of RYossi and he believes that he really deserves it. However Hashem is not content with this because if Hashem will grant him his request because of the reason of RYochanan, then people who will see other tzaddikim who suffer (because of the opinion of RMeir) will look down at them and think that they are not really tzaddikim.

Since his request causes a defamation of the character of the other tzaddikim it comes out that he is not an absolute tzaddik and therefore Hashem is angry at his request! 2

וַיֵּשֶׁב יַעֲקֹב בְּאֶרֶץ מְגוּרֵי אָבִיו בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן:(בראשית לז/א)

And Yaakov dwelled in the land of his forefathers. (Breishis 37/1)

On this possuk the Midrash comments, “And Yaakov dwelled”- It is written (in Yeshiya), ‘When you cry (to Hashem) your assembly will save you’-  the Rabbis learned, ‘your assembly and your children’s assembly saved you from the hands of Eisav‘ …”

In other words, it was the merit of Yaakov and the merit of his children that saved them from Eisav.

Zera Shimshon asks why does the Medrash mention the merit of his children. Why wasn’t his merits enough?

He answers in light of the Medrash (Yalkut Shimoni Shoftim remez 51) that says that Eisav will fall in the hands of Rachel’s children (Yosef and Binyamin) and not in the hands of the children of the other brothers. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, so that when they come to kill Eisav, he will not be able to persuade them that they have not right to kill him because they are no better than him. Just like he tried to kill his brother (Yaakov) so too they tried to kill their brother (Yosef). And secondly, Eisav can argue that he doesn’t deserve to be killed. He had a good reason to chase after Yaakov because Yaakov stole his birthright and the blessings that were meant for him. These arguments, however, are powerless against Yosef. He never tried to kill his brothers and even though that his brothers tried to harm him, he didn’t seek revenge.

There is, however, one argument that Eisav can use against Yosef; why doesn’t he have mercy on him like he had on his brothers?

In truth this argument is also weak because the brothers regretted that they planned to kill him. When Yehuda suggested that they sell him into slavery instead of killing they agreed with him. On the other hand, even after we are sold to Eisav as slaves he continues to persecute us.

According to this, concludes Zera Shimshon, we can now understand the reason that the Medrash mentions that we were saved from Eisav also in the merit of Yaakov’s children. It is to teach us that ALL the brothers were tzaddikim. We are saved not only in the merit of Yosef who never tried to take revenge and harm his brothers but also in the merit of the other brothers who although initially wanted to kill Yosef they eventually regretted their decision.


וַיֵּשֶׁב יַעֲקֹב בְּאֶרֶץ מְגוּרֵי אָבִיו בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן:(בראשית לז/א)

And Yaakov dwelled in the land of his forefathers. (Breishis 37/1)

On this possuk the Midrash comments, “And Yaakov dwelled “: It is written (in the prophet Yeshiya), ‘When you cry (to Hashem) your gathering will save you’-  the Rabbis learned, ‘your gathering and the your children’s gathering saved you from the hands of Eisav‘ … (the posuk in Yeshiya concludes) ‘and those who trust in me will inherit the land’- this is refering to Yaakov (like it says) ‘And Yaakov dwelled’.”

In other words, in the merit that Yaakov and his children stayed together and didn’t run away from Eisav and met him and his troops, Yaakov and his sons were saved from Eisav’s violent plans and inherited the Land .

Zera Shimshon asks where did Chazal see that it was the fact that  Yaakov and his children stayed together caused them to be saved from Eisav.

Secondly, he asks, where do we find that Yaakov had trust in Hashem to such a degree that the Midrash concludes “and those who trust in M. will inherit the land”?

He explains that normaly people run away from  someone who wants to harm them. Why then did Yaakov “look for trouble” and meet with Eisav.

Even more difficult to understand is why did the children of Yaakov also “stick around” and not run away or hide?

For instance, Chazal (Megila 16/a) teach us that when Mordechai would meet Haman he commanded all of his talmidim to run away so that Haman would not harm them. Why then did the children of Yaakov not only not run away from Eisav but drew close to greet him?

The answer is that they had tremendous trust, bitachon,  in Hashem and therefore were not at all afraid of Eisav. They therefore felt no need to run away from him. (And even though it says that Yaakov was VERY afraid, this doesn’t mean that his fear took away from his bitachon in Hashem. Rather he used this fear to strengthen his trust in Hashem.)

This is meaning of the Midrash; that in the merit of their bitachon, which manifested itself by assembling and not running away, they were saved from the hands of Eisav.

A proof to this idea that having bitachon can save one from his enemies is found in the Gemorro (Menochos 29/b) Whoever puts his trust in Hashem, will have shelter in this world and in the World To Come.HaRav Shimshon Nachmaini, author of Zera Shimshon lived in Italy about 300 years ago in the time of the Or HaChaim HaKodesh.

The Chida writes that he was a great Mekubal and wrote many sefarim including sefarim about practical kabbolo but asked that all of his sefarim be buried after he passes away except for Zera Shimshon and Niflaos Shimshon on Avos.

He had one child who died in his lifetime (hence the name Zera Shimshon) and in the preface he promises for people who learn his sefarim after he dies ... And your eyes will see children and grandchildren like the offshoots of an olive tree around your tables, wise and understanding with houses filled with all manner of good things and wealth and honor These d’vrai Torah are dedicated to Esther Yenta Bas Chana Chassia. In the merit of the learning Zera Shimshon’s divrai TorahHashem should answer her prayers and she should quickly find her proper match along with all the other members of Clal Yisroel who are also looking for their zivug hagun.

To have new D’vrei Torah sent directly to your inbox fill in boxes below: