Why is Life so Challenging?

December 9, 2014 at 6:36 PM , , ,

“….And behold, we were binding sheaves in the midst of the field….” – Bereishit 37:7

״…והנה אנחנו מאלמים אלומים בתוך השדה…״ – בראשית לז, ז

Yosef and Pharaoh both had dreams involving grain, but the contexts in which they each saw the grain could not be more dissimilar. In Yosef’s dream, he saw himself and his brothers binding sheaves of grain in the field; in Pharaoh’s dream, the ears of grain were growing on their own but he was nowhere to be found. In other words, Yosef’s dreams opened with a scene of toil, while Pharaoh’s dreams made no mention of work at all.

This contrast brings to light the difference between a life that is sustained and influenced by kedushah, holiness, and a life that is nourished from unholy sources.

Why is Life so ChallengingChasidus explains that a life sustained by elements that are contrary to kedusha comes easy, and involves little or no challenge. We thus find that the Jewish people told Moshe that, “We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt free of charge (Bamidbar 11:5).” Rashi explains that this does not mean that the Jewish people in Egypt were provided food at no cost, but that their lives were “free ofmitzvos.” Such a life is called “free of charge” because nourishment from Egypt, an allusion to all things unholy, comes easy, and does not require effort or toil.

In a life that is nurtured exclusively by the G-dly and holy, however, everything is earned only through hard work. This is so because G-d desires to bless us with the very ultimate of goodness and delight, but things that come effortless can never be truly enjoyed. In the words of the Talmud Yerushalmi (Orlah 1:3), “One who eats from the food of another is ashamed to look at his benefactor’s face.” The blessings we enjoy most are those that are the fruits of our labor, which we’ve earned through our own contribution to achieving them.

It is only natural then that Yosef dreams of work, while Pharaoh dreams of stalks growing on their own. When one takes the demanding path of Yosef, however, and not the easy path associated with Pharaoh and Egypt, then his successes too will follow the pattern of Yosef’s dreams. Though his early beginnings may be in the earthly “field”, Yosef’s first dream, he will ultimately reach true heights, as represented by Yosef’s second dream of “the sun, the moon and the stars”.


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—Likkutei Sichos, vol. 3, pp. 807-808, 820






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