Parshas Vayechi 2018: Achieving Spiritual Perfection
“Nobody’s perfect,” True.
However, practice makes perfect, right?
“When I came from Padan, my wife died with me.” (Genesis 48:7)
Rashi explains Yaakov buried his wife Rochel in Beis Lechem rather than in the Cave of Machpelah with the other matriarchs. This was Hashem’s command so she should be able to help her children when they’re crying and begging Hashem for mercy by serving as an advocate for them in Shamayim (Heaven). Specifically during the period of the exile of Nebuchadnezzar.
The Zohar reveals to us, Leah who cried to marry Yaakov, was granted the merit of being buried with him for eternity. While her sister Rochel who cried for her children (to have them), was buried on the road in Beis Lechem a place where she could cry for them. As it says, “Rochel crying over her children.” (Jeremiah 31:14)
When the pasuk says, “died with me” the Hebrew word can also be translated to mean “die on my behalf”. Interestingly, Yaakov was not allowed to be married to sisters while residing in the holy land of Eretz Canaan (Israel), as we learn from the Rambam. Rochel actually had to die before they entered into the land.
This illustrates the incredible self-sacrifice of our father Yaakov who, for the sake of upholding the holiness and perfection of the land of Israel was willing to not just lose one of his wives, but Rochel, the one he loved the MOST!
In a similar vein, it has been stated that the Chidushei HaRim, a father of many children, would lose another child fatally upon visiting his personal Rebbe. Yet he did not even once, cease to travel to visit his Rebbe. This story is difficult for us to understand but he needed his Rebbe to try to achieve spiritual perfection and nothing could deter him.
Our job is to become as close with Hashem as possible in our lifetimes each of us with our own given situations. How is this done? How can one fulfill his life’s purpose? Learn Torah! Live by the Torah, observe the mitzvos out of love for Hashem, and pray to Hashem over our concerns, needs, and wants and to do teshuva (repentance). Through these and only through these modalities can a person reach spiritual perfection.
Our job is NOT to be perfect. Our job is to get our “effort” as close to perfect as possible. We look at our forefathers and the great Torah luminaries of the generations and we see how they strived for perfection. We learn from their ways and then try to emulate them with our focus being on “effort” and “growth”.
This is something that should motivate us and encourage us every minute of every day on our journey of spiritual growth. Of course nobody’s perfect but that shouldn't stop us from aspiring to be!
Have a wonderful Shabbos and weekend!
Maverick V. Peters