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The Torah portion of Vayeshev contains the story of Jacob and his son Joseph, a story full of energy and deep insights that reveal many secrets of life. Personally, I always like to look at the processes of the ancestors of the Israelites, the Patriarchs—those amazing chariots of energy on their journey through the 1% reality— and how they went through their lives on earth, examining the tools and consciousness they used to achieve their souls’ purpose.
Vayeshev means ‘he sat’, and the portion begins with Jacob in a state that the kabbalists describe as ‘complacency’. After all of his tests and trials, Jacob felt he had accomplished what he had set out to do and reached his destination, so he sat.
Soon after reaching this state, Jacob was led to believe his beloved son Joseph had been killed. In that moment, Jacob’s complacency turned into a sadness so deep that it completely disconnected him from the Light of the Creator. For many years, Jacob lived in darkness. At one point, Jacob said to the Creator, “My years have been difficult and few.” The Zohar tells us that the Creator responded, “I saved you from Esau, I brought Dinah and Joseph back to you. Why are you complaining?” Because of his complaint, 33 years were taken from his lifespan. Only when Jacob reunited with his son did his soul return to him:
Rav Shimon said that Jacob was sorrowful all his life, and his days passed in sorrow in the beginning. When he saw Joseph standing before him, Jacob looked at Joseph and his soul was made whole as if he saw Joseph's mother. For the beauty of Joseph resembled that of Rachel, and it seemed to him as if he had never known sorrow."
The Zohar, Portion Vayechi 15:113
This story raises many questions that contain huge life lessons for us.
First, what state should we be in after we feel we have accomplished a major goal in our life? Right after a successful project or event, Rav Berg would ask us many times, “Are you satisfied?” The question was quite confusing! Obviously, there is a sense of fulfillment that comes from the completion of something we have worked hard to create. However, Rav Berg was raising our consciousness in order to consider two important questions: First, to what degree do we take credit for any achievements in life – rather than acknowledging that all of our ideas, efforts, and successes come from the Light? Second, how motivated are we to continue to keep creating and working – even after we have accomplished something challenging?
The nature of life is constant evolution and movement towards the Light. If we become complacent and do not choose to keep evolving and moving, the universe will force us to move, and unfortunately, we are most commonly forced to grow by pain.
Just as Jacob experienced it, this pain can be so deep and so strong that it actually paralyzes us, leaving us unable to do anything at all. When we let pain take over, we become complacent again, and that complacency only creates more pain. What do we tend to do when we are in pain? We complain. Not surprisingly, the areas in our lives that we complain about are the areas in which we are complacent – the areas that we need to put more effort and energy into. It’s a dangerous loop of complacency, pain, and complaints—‘complain-cency’ and pain.
Recently, someone asked our teacher, Karen Berg, “What’s your secret? How do you have so much energy to go all around the world despite all of the challenges and pain?”
Karen said, “It’s simple. I go and I do. If I’m tired, or weak, or sad, or sick or whatever it may be, I get up and do what I need to do. The basic point is this: If you want from the Light you have to give to the Light.”
We are in the month of Sagittarius, the month of miracles. The kabbalists explain that a miracle is created every time we go against our reactive nature. It is natural to feel pride when we have accomplished something and to feel sadness when we have lost someone or something. By resisting the natural tendency of resting on our achievements and dwelling on our pain, we can create miracles in our lives. Within Jacob’s story, we can learn the antidote for darkness and apply the secret of miracle-making to our lives today.
Questions to ask ourselves this week:
In which areas of my life have I stopped giving full energy and effort to create, give, share and appreciate?
When and where do I fall into complacency after I have achieved something?
Do I allow pain to stop me from moving forward?
Wishing a week of transformation and miracles for all of us.