Friday, December 15, 2006

Parashat Vayeshev

This week's parsha shiur.

Rashi quotes a disturbing Midrash in the opening lines of the Parsha:

“Vayeshev Yaakov - Yaakov wished to dwell in calm and tranquillity. The trouble (lit. rage) of Joseph pounced upon him. God says: Tzaddikim want a peaceful life? Is the good that awaits them in the World To Come not sufficient that they desire calm and tranquillity in this world?”

I say that it is disturbing, because if we are to take the message of this midrashic comment to heart, then what is being demanded from the righteous is to expel all aspirations of personal calm and harmony, and to set forth on a path of torment and self denial. Is this the ideology which is recommended by Torah?

We shall return to the theology in a few minutes. But for now, let us attempt to examine the midrashic method itself. How is this Midrash created? From where does it draw its ideas?


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