Peace Without and Within by Rabbi Avi Pollak

(2004/5765) Chazal tell us that after enduring many years of
difficult challenges, including dealing with Lavan, confronting
Esav, and dealing with his daughter’s assault, Yaakov Avinu
wished that he could finally live in peace and tranquility.
Unfortunately for him, he was forced to deal with another
tragic turn of events - the debacle of Yosef and his brothers.
The Midrash adds that God felt that Yaakov should
not have expected to live in peace and tranquility. Is it not
enough that he will spend his life in the World to Come in
peace? Does he deserve to spend this world with that
comfort as well?
This criticism of Yaakov is puzzling. Was it wrong for
him to wish to finish his life with contentment, especially
considering that he had already endured so many
challenges?
Rav Nissan Alpert explains that until that point,
Yaakov had fended off enemies from the outside. He was
forced to run from Esav, to deal with Lavan’s trickery, to
confront Esav one final time, and to deal with an assault on
his daughter. These were all challenges from people who did
not share his values and world-view and wanted to take
advantage of Yaakov and his family. But in focusing all his
energy on protecting himself from the world around him, he
neglected to notice the problems that were brewing within his
very own family. With such intense hatred surfacing between
his sons, he could not have expected to live out his life with
ease; he should have confronted the internal challenge and
solved it before it would be too late.
Chazal and the Rishonim often point out parallels
between the lives of our Avot and the history of our nation.
There are many examples of the Jewish people succeeding in
dealing with challenges from the unfriendly world around
them, only to be crippled by internal conflict and hatred.
We must be careful to avoid this tragic error
ourselves. As we hope to succeed in securing a safe,
peaceful and spiritual existence for Klal Yisrael in Eretz
Yisrael, we must be able to transcend our political or religious
differences to coexist peacefully. We must show respect and
appreciation for all those who have taken the courageous
step to live in Eretz Yisrael and confront our national
challenge on the front line.

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