Spiritual Days by Avi Wollman


One of the numerous events in this week’s Parsha, Vayigash, is the conversation between Yaakov and Pharaoh. On one end of the spectrum there is Pharaoh, king of Egypt, the most powerful country at the time; Pharaoh, in a physical sense, is the most powerful man on earth. At the other end of the spectrum, Yaakov is spiritual leader of his time and thereby, in a spiritual sense, the most powerful man on earth. So, in Parshat Vayigash, the two powerful men come to speak with each other and Pharaoh asks Yaakov, “How many are the days of the years of your life?” What sort of question is this for Pharaoh to ask?

Rav Hirsch answers that Pharaoh was really asking how many truly spiritual days Yaakov had in his lifetime. Yaakov replies, "The days of the years of my life are 130 years, but the days of the years of my life are few and bad, and did not surpass those of my fathers." Yaakov is answering Pharaoh that physically, he has lived for 130 years. However, spiritually, he did not “surpass the days of his fathers.” Yaakov has not made as many of his days as spiritually fulfilling as he would have liked because of all the troubles placed upon him that Avraham and Yitzchak did not have. He means to say that he does not care about the 130 years he has physically lived, only the truly meaningful spiritual days of his life. Like Yaakov, we should try to make our days more spiritual, by setting aside time out of our day for Torah and Mitzvot and so are days will really be days.

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