Friday, January 6, 2012

A Parsha Thought

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman, Dean, Cheder Chabad of Monsey

The Rebbe, in his diary “Hayom Yom”, tells the story of the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, the “Tzemach Tzedek”, who, as a child, asked his grandfather, Rabbi Schneur Zalman, the Alter Rebbe, a question based on what he had just learned in his Cheder class.  His teacher had said, quoting commentaries, that the opening passage in this week’s Torah portion, “Vayechi Yaacov B’eretz Mitzrayim..” (“And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt...”) teaches that our patriarch Jacob fully enjoyed and appreciated life particularly during the seventeen-year period that he lived in Egypt, 

This astounded the little boy, having learned as well, that Egypt, at that time, was the most base and morally corrupt country. How can Jacob, so pure and holy, find comfort and ease in such an environment!

His grandfather responded, that as Jacob had immediately prior to his descent to Egypt, sent  Judah to establish a Yeshiva and a campus of Torah study, where one can be close to the Al-mighty, then even in Egypt Jacob can feel comfortable and “live”!  

It is the spiritual quality of life that Jacob, the saintliest of our forefathers, came to appreciate. How was Jacob able to appreciate spiritual life in a place of such absolute moral depravity? The answer lies in the Yeshiva (Torah academy) that he established while he was in Egypt.

Even in such an unseemly place of spiritual impurity, Jacob developed a center of light, a source of spiritual energy that produced an environment of holiness.

Every Jew has inherited from Jacob the ability to transcend the limitations of one's own personal environment, the ability to transform a personal Egypt into a personal Jerusalem, by creating an oasis of happiness and G-dliness.

We can uncover spiritual life, even when friends, neighbors and acquaintances are not as spiritually in tune as we would want to be. Furthermore, it is possible to even positively influence those very friends, that they can  fashion for themselves a life of Torah, Judaism and holiness.

Have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!

Daily Mincha Time Change

Beginning this Sunday, 13 Teves, January 8, the daily Mincha minyan at Tzemach Tzedek will be at 4:30 PM.