Vayishev Yaakov – and Yaakov settled. RASHI quoting the Midrash: Beekaysh Yaakov Layshayv B’Shalva– Yaakov wanted to live in tranquility. And, therefore, he got the struggles and problems that follow.
“Adam L’amal Yaga’ata” – man was created for struggle. A soul comes down to this world to struggle and work, to put in effort. We sometimes have a choice in life – to pick our own struggles, or if we don’t pick the struggles, Hashem gives us the struggle. No person’s life is without struggle. What kind of struggles can we pick? We can pick to work out our middos – we say, okay, I am going to struggle with my character traits. Changing our nature is a struggle. Why, you ask, why must we struggle? For that is what allows us to fix flaws in the world and release purity from the trapped straits they might be found in within our universe.
You know what I’ve found in life. Not only do you get struggles thrust upon you if you don’t pick your own battles, but you get the same struggle again and again (and sometimes again and again ad nauseum) until you get it right. Say you have a classmate who, for whatever the reason, has a personality that grates on your nerves…if you don’t work out your ability to act gracious to that individual, chances are you will end up with a boss or coworker with the same issue. And, if that won’t do the trick, you just might end up with a spouse with that personality…or a child with it. Basically you will be thrown that annoying scenario many times over until you finally are “metaken” fix-up the flaws within you and the world which your soul has been sent to do.
Three years ago my family went through torturous times of my father being really ill. Last year we went through the same. Two years TO THE WEEK – both times his most critical point of health crisis was the week of the Parsha of Yaakov’s struggle with the angel. My sister says that gives her the goosebumps. But to me, I think it is somewhat of a clarion call and a comfort. Not for nothing do we get our struggles. It is even timed and slotted to reflect the struggles of past history. Something greater than us little family was going on in our struggle. Something was being set right as my father fought for his life.
May each struggle that we go through fix the flaws needed to be fixed, so that we can “graduate” to our next, and hopefully more cheerful struggle. May we have the foresight to “pick” our struggles, rather than have them pick us.
And, if you’ve never heard it yet, here’s Lipa Schmeltzer’s song about Yaakov’s struggle (and ours, too) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ap8Q6rHHjOU