Through The Eyes of a Woman
Vayigash: Don't Just Sit There. Do Something!
I would like to repeat a vort from Shabbos. I see there are a lot
of newcomers and they don't know what I mean. When I say "a vort from
Shabbos," I mean a synopsis of teaching from the farbrengen concerning
the weekly Torah reading -- in this case, Parshas Vayigash --
at which the Rebbe spoke this past Shabbos in 770. One of the tenets of
Chabad Chassidus is that a person must live with the parshah of the
week. That means not just read it, but actually go through his week getting guidance
and inspiration from the parshah. The Rebbe always imparts a teaching from
the parshah that is relevant to each and every one of us.
So what is the teaching derived from the first word of the parshah --
"Vayigash?" The translation of the word is "approach." Yehudah approached
Yosef. Not only is this the first word of the parshah -- it is
also the name of the parshah, which makes it even more significant. In Torah,
and in Chassidus particularly, names are significant. Now the name of every
parshah is not necessarily the first word of every parshah, as you
will see if you go through their names.
The Rebbe explains that the word Vayigash, relates to the period that
we are living in now. Right before the coming of Mashiach, one's main
avodah (divinely-appointed task) is to serve HaShem with pure faith rather
than intellect. (However, as regards our behavior between man and man, you definitely
have to use your seichel.)
As we've mentioned numerous times, those of us who are fortunate enough to hear
what the Rebbe says, know where to put our energy. The Torah is so vast, that you
cannot do anything totally and exclusively. Nor can you do 613 things at once. So
where should I put my emphasis, you may ask? The Rebbe says that in the last generation
before Mashiach the emphasis is on ahavas Yisrael, on loving your
fellow Jew, on simply overcoming the differences and the barriers between people
and looking away from their faults and foibles and just loving one another. In
misnagdish circles or in mussar circles you will find a great emphasis
on shemiras halashon, on guarding your tongue, with symposiums and seminars,
lectures and luncheons. And the truth is, this is only the other side of the same
Every coin has two sides. One side is the aspect of "doing good." The other is
the aspect of "refraining from evil." Ahavas Yisrael is "doing good," emphasizing
the positive. Shemiras halashon is "refraining from evil." But, by emphasizing
ahavas Yisrael, the result will be shemiras halashon.
The Rebbe says ahavas Yisrael is where we should be putting our emphasis
in our generation. The Rebbe explains that matters have to come down to action.
"The deed is the main thing." It's not enough to feel it in your heart. You've probably
heard jokes about Jews who are not yet fully observant. A "cardiac Jew" is someone
who is Jewish in his heart: he feels Jewish, and loves Yiddishkeit, and it's
all there in the heart. But not in his actions. And there's the gastronomical Jew.
Kreplach, gefilte fish, cholent. He feels so Jewish -- in
his stomach. But what about his actions? Did he share his kreplach and
cholent with another Jew? There are all types of Jews, and their Judaism is
expressed in many different ways. But it is not enough to feel love. You have to
do something about this love.
And that is what the word Vayigash means. It means making the effort to
approach another Jew, and not just sit home and learn about ahavas Yisrael.
Why don't you go visit another Jew? A fellow Jew might appreciate a kind word. Another
might need a ride. Maybe a third one just needs some friendship, a fourth needs
some tzedakah. The only ahavas Yisrael that is meaningful is that
which descends from the realm of thought into the realm of action. It must be in
deed -- actually doing something. This is the teaching gleaned from the
Being a Jew is not just a privilege. It is also a responsibility. We all know
that in secular modern American society the main aim is to succeed. It doesn't matter
how many people fall by the wayside, as long as I get to the top of the ladder,
and I get the job and I get a promotion and raise. And I, I, I, I. But that's not
the Jewish way. The Jewish way is that there has to be interaction. And if there
isn't any you should seek it. Don't wait until somebody knocks on your door and
asks for your help. You have to go out of your way to look around you and seek out
people in need. You have a mission to help those people whose paths you cross.
There is a story about the Shpoler Zeide, who became one of the disciples of
the Baal Shem Tov. When he was a newborn baby, on the day of his bris milah
the Baal Shem Tov came to the ceremony disguised as a simple farmer. He placed his
holy hand on the baby's heart and blessed him that he should always be "a varemer-Yid"
-- a warmhearted Jew. That blessing permeated his being for his entire
life, and he was indeed a varemer-Yid, who cared deeply for other Yidden.
Let's all be warmhearted Yidden.