Wednesday, December 05, 2012

more on tefilah and kol d'avid Rachamana l'tav avid

A few weeks ago we discussed R' Shlomo Kluger's explanation of Yitchak's davening "l'nochach ishto" -- for Rivka's benefit, not his own.  Yitzchak accepted that whatever Hashem decreed must be l'tov and therefore, if he had no children, so be it -- it must be for the best.  However, he knew that Rivka did not share that same perspective, and therefore he davened for a child on her behalf.  This highlights what I think is a paradox: our acceptance that "kol mah d'avid Rachmama l'tav avid," that all Hashem does is for the best, while at the same time davening and asking Hashem to change the circumstances we might find ourselves into what we think is something better.  

The Berdichiver explains the double-language, "V'atah amarta **heiteiv eitiv** eimach,"  used in last week's parsha by Ya'akov in his tefilah before his encounter with Eisav as meaning that Hashem did not just promise to do good/tov by Ya'akov, but he promised good that would also be perceived as good.  In other words, no matter what happened in that encounter, at the end of the day Ya'akov's response would be, "Kol d'avid Rachamana l'tav avid."  But Ya'akov wanted more than that -- he wanted it to be good in a way that was tangible and real to him without having to resort to rationalizations and justifications after the fact.

Maybe now we can understand just a little bit the seemingly callous behavior of Yosef who spent his time fixing his hair and making sure he looked his best (Rashi 39:6) while his father sat mourning for him at home.  This is the behavior of the tzadik yesod olam?!   How could Yosef feel in the mood to dress up and adorn himself at this time?   The Radomsker answers that if one truly feels that "kol d'avid Rachamana l'tav avid," then the question is moot. Aderaba, what are you wailing about -- whatever is happening can only be good!

This reminds me of the gemara in Chagiga 5 that teaches that even when there is sadness in the outer chambers, in the inner chambers closest to Hashem (whatever that means) there is always joy (there is another girsa there too, ayen sham).  I don't think we can really relate to such a madreiga, but Yosef haTzadik and Yitzchak Avinu lived their lives in "batei gavay," the innermost chamber where there is always joy; on that level and from that inner perspective no matter what happens, "Rachamana l'tav avid."  It's not a justification after the fact, but its how these tzadikim felt every moment.

So why is Yosef criticized?  We've explained the "hava amina" of Yosef's behavior, but at the end of the day it was not the right thing to do.  The Radomsker answers that even though the tzadik knows that all is good, he still must show empathy with the world that does not feel and see things that way; he must  daven on behalf of a world that needs the good of "heiteiv eitiv," that which we feel and experience as good, not just that we can rationalize as good after the fact.  The tzadik's job is to bring tov down from shamayim into the reality of life as we experience it, so that we can share in it to the fullest extent. 

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:55 PM

    "all Hashem does is for the best" sounds a little
    like Kubler-Ross's* stage 5, 'acceptance', while "asking Hashem to change the circumstances"
    sounds something like her stage 3, 'bargaining',
    suggesting that the tzadik has come to immediate,
    final terms with his/her mortality**, while others have not; suggesting too that the tzadik has fully forgiven Adam & Chava, the original parents, for drawing down the death decree, & has thus dissolved the 'generation gap', dor v'dor effective henceforth...

    *author well known in popular culture, though nowhere in sight at
    **& so lives in perpetual teshuva, Avos 2:15b, ever reinforcing his/her tzidkus

    >>> How could Yosef feel in the mood to dress up and adorn himself at this time?

    because Divine success continuously attends him*, so palpably that even Potiphar can see it,
    39:3; & since the midrash Rashi uses at 39:6
    attributes the rebuke there to The Holy One Himself, how can Yosef be said to reside in "the
    innermost chamber", when he is clearly not close
    to Him in this regard**?

    *he was 'on a roll', as they say
    **does Yosef straddle the mechitza, with one shoe--polished by Light--in the inner chamber, &
    one shoe--polished by slave--outside?