I know that I am living but am I alive*
They have eyes but don’t see, ears but don’t hear… so says King David. One can be alive but not really living. Jacob lives the last 17 years of his life, and although he is reunited with his son Jacob, it is after all, Egypt, the lowliest of lands. And yet, the Torah and the commentators tell us that 17 is the numeric equivalent of Tov = Good.
The word that opens the Parsha this week is Vayechi – “and he lived”. In Yiddish you might say “gelebt” which loosely translated would be “lived it up” or to use the title of this blog, he was “alive”. All of this emphasizes the perplexity of why is it that the best years of Jacob’s life are lived in Egypt?
The answer in brief, is that although all of us would like life to be smooth, easy, free sailing, that’s just not the way it is. If it seems to good to be true it usually is. Nothing good comes easy, and any other cliches you want to throw in all make the same point.
Real happiness, satisfaction, etc. comes from digging deep, overcoming challenge, finding the light in the darkness, etc. Oh if it were only not so, but that’s just the way it is until Moshiach comes.
So, Jacob who has lived the struggles of his life and now finds himself in the lowliest of places uncovers the real light that is deep down. He understands the purpose of the journey and to the extent possible on this physical earth enjoys the positive result. He experiences the gems that he uncovered from the darkness.
As we navigate life, and sometimes it seems like the darkness is too great, look deep, dig deep and find out that you are not only living, but you truly are alive!
*Credit to my BIL Rabbi Ruvi New for the title from his new album Storm the World – get it on Itunes and wherever good music is sold!