Thursday, December 22, 2005

FRIDAY NIGHT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE: Peace and Quiet (Vayeishev)


Kislev 21, 5766 * December 22, 2005


Parshat Vayeishev

Peace and Quiet
- - - - - - - -

"You know," Ben said to his best friend one day, "sometimes I just want peace and quiet".

"I come home from school and my mother is telling me to put my stuff away nicely, then I have to help my annoying little sister with her homework, then I have to do my own homework, and before I even get a chance to finish I have to go down to supper because my mother wants me to eat with everyone. And then," Ben was really getting worked up, "to top it all my little sister spills her tomato soup all over me and I have to change and take a shower, so I shouldn't smell like tomato soup!"

"Hmm, that does sound rather stressful," David thought, and then said soothingly to his friend, "yeah, I some times feel like that too".

Ben had not yet finished his long complaint.

"I could understand," he said, "having to put my stuff away, and I could even understand helping my sister, and maybe I could even understand doing my homework". Ben stopped for a second, thinking "or, maybe not", but he did not say it.

Then he went on. "But why did I have to get soup spilled all over me, what good could possibly come out of that, the house doesn't look any neater and I wont get higher marks on the tests. I just want to be good and live peacefully and then, it's as if G-d says to me 'no, you can't live peacefully.'"

Suddenly, Ben stopped. A dim memory of something he heard in school came drifting into his mind. "Hey, you know what, I am like Jacob, he had lots of troubles, then as soon as he wanted to live peacefully, all of a sudden his son Joseph went missing".

"Yes, I remember," David said "it's in this week's Parsha. Mr. Benson told us about it. Jacob could understand having to live with his mean uncle Lavan, who tricked him many times, and he could understand the difficult problem with his brother Esau, but he couldn't understand why his favorite son Joseph should go missing".

"Yeah" Ben said, "like me, Jacob just wanted to live a good peaceful life and then suddenly something comes along and turns it all upside down just when you think it is all going to be O.K." Then he added, after a thoughtful pause, "But why does it happen that way?"

"I'm not sure" David said, "but it does often seem to happen like that".
After a few moments of thoughtful silence, David added "Maybe only through the problems that we don't understand, do we get a real peacefulness."

"What do you mean?" asked Ben.

"If it is a challenge that G-d sends you and it seems that it just doesn't make sense, and you face the challenge, then you get real peacefulness in the end."

"So what you mean is that today," Ben said, smiling, "I had a very peaceful supper, my little sister even poured her tomato soup over me, she is so cute."


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By Dr. Tali Loewenthal, Director of Chabad Research Unit, London

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