Do we need a Midrash to tell us that Ya’akov or the other Avos had tzaros? And why raise that point specifically here? Perhaps the Midrash is connected to Rashi’s comment that Ya’akov used the shem “Shakai” because he was calling on G-d to end his tzaros (yomar ‘dai’ l’tzarosai), but the connection seems tenuous.Last week we discussed the Ohr haChaim’s chiddush that a ba’al bechira, a person’s free will, can overcome hashgacha. The Ksav Sofer suggests the Midrash is reading Ya'akov's prayer in that same light. “Ashrei hagever asher tiyasreinu K-h,” a person whom *Hashem* afflicts with suffering is lucky. If Hashem is the one causing the suffering, then Hashem can take away the suffering as well. But when suffering comes through human hands, through a ba’al bechira, then hashgacha cannot help (see last week’s post). The Ksav Sofer writes that we mention this in our davening almost every day. In tachanun we say, “Niplah na b’yad Hashem ub’yad adam al epolah” – better to be punished by G-d’s hands than fall into the hands of man. Ya’akov was willing to accept Hashem’s punishment (as we see from the end of the pasuk, “…ka’asher shakolti shakalti”), but he davened that his children be spared punishment “lifnei ha’ish,” at the hands of a ba’al bechira, as that is a far more dangerous situation.
While on the topic, I just want to point out the Midrash a few lines later:אמר ליה רבי אלכסנדרי: אין לך אדם בלא יסורים, אשריו לאדם, שיסורים באים עליו מן התורה, שנאמר: ומתורתך תלמדנו.
Chazal tell us that you can’t go through life without suffering. The question is what kind of suffering it’s going to be. You can toss and turn on your pillows worried about your business, your children, your health, or all kinds of other depressing things. Or, “ashrav l’adam she’yisurim ba’aim alav min haTorah,” you can have yissurim and suffering from Torah – you can lie awake because you can’t figure out pshat in a Tosfos or you are worried about a difficult Rambam. I would like to hope that a person has the right to choose, and if you worry about the latter, you will be spared the worries about the former.