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Seeking serenity

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Rabbi Eli Spinner

Chabad of Glenhazel

Who can say they had a week that was truly tranquil and worry free?

The Torah tells us that Yaakov also sought this elusive blessing of peace and serenity, though for a very different reason. Yaakov spent years working for his cheat of a father-in-law, slaving day and night tending to Lavan’s sheep.

He finally returned to Israel and prepared to meet his brother Esav who harboured intense hatred toward him and wanted to kill him.

Miraculously, he survived the encounter. Now all he wants to do is settle down with his family and continue the legacy started by his grandfather Avraham, to teach his children the ways of Hashem and study Torah, without any external disturbing forces. This was why Yaakov desired peace. 

As Maimonides teaches, the sages all yearned for the messianic era not for the abundant wealth and riches that will prevail, rather for the peace of mind that comes with the freedom from persecution, allowing them to completely devote themselves to the study of Torah and the knowledge of G-d. 

Unfortunately, Yaakov’s request for peace was not fulfilled until the last 17 years of his life. First having to endure the suffering of being separated from his favourite son, until finally being reunited with him in Egypt, where he was at last able to truly enjoy the comfort of being surrounded by his family all following the path he set for them, and study Torah with peace of mind. 

As we think back to our own quest for rest and relaxation, with vacation season fast approaching, with many anticipating time on the coast, an oasis in a fast-paced year, when we are free to spend time with our family, absolved of our usual obligations, let us reflect on our true objectives.

To put it in perspective from a soul level, what gives us meaningful enjoyment. Perhaps to spend some time learning, or devote extra time to daven, that an otherwise busy schedule may not allow for.

Or even as King Solomon wrote: “Know Him in all your ways.”

Wherever we find ourselves, and whatever seemingly mundane activity we engage in, can be utilised for a higher purpose. A sunset walk on the beach can remind one of Hashem’s amazing creation. So, for the meanwhile let us utilise this opportunity to its full potential, and let us truly await the time of ultimate peace very soon. 

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