Parsha Vayigash

In this week's parsha Yosef brings his father Yaakov to meet Paroah. Paroah asks Yaakov how old he is to which Yaakov replies: "...the days of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty years, few and bad were the days of my life, and they didn't reach the years of the lives of my fathers in the days of their soujourning." (Breishis 47:9)

Yaakov's answer needs explanation. It certainly can't be that our great forefather Yaakov was complaining G-d forbid.

HaKsav v'haKabalah offers an answer. There are two ways in serving the Almighty. The first way is for a  person to be constantly waging a battle against his animalistic nature. The other way is when a person has filled his heart with the love of Hashem and doesn't have any desire except to fulfill the will of the Almighty.

When Yaakov said that his life was bad he meant that he served the Almighty in the first way and his whole life except for a "few" days were a battle with himself. This was as opposed to his fathers Avraham and Yitzhak who served the Almighty in the second way. They didn't have that same battle and therefore lived the ultimate pleasant life.

The truth is that Yaakov actually served the Almighty in the second way but he was being humble.

Then there's a third category of people who don't even engage their animalistic self and seem to live peaceful lives not having to wage the war with themselves. The truth is they aren't in the ballgame. They didn't begin to serve the Almighty.

Rabbi Beryl Glaser

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