Friday, December 2, 2011

Parshas Vayeitzei

Yaakov waited seven years to marry Rachel. And then another seven years. That's fourteen years. He must've been doing real thorough research. RASHI says that all those years were like YAMIM ACHADIM, A FEW DAYS.
Think for a second. If you were waiting desperately to marry someone, marking off each day on the calendar with a glow-in-the-dark marker so you can see it while lying in bed, too, and you had a custom calendar made just for you because you had to wait seven years since he was still in college and he changed his major each semester (but he kept the same bride).... would it really feel like "just a few days"? Maybe just a few centuries? How could it possibly be that all those years felt to Yaakov like YAMIM ACHADIM?
There were two different parts of the process:
1. Seven years of waiting.
2. Seven years of working.
The waiting part, no doubt was extremely difficult. The working part was practically effortless since the payment was so well worth it.
If you have the means to give someone $10 million, then $1 million seems like nothing.
To Yaakov, Rachel was worth so much that he'd do anything to get her.
In Eishes Chayil, Shlomo Hamelech describes the virtuous woman. One aspect of her idealism is stated in the fourth possuk: DARSHA TZEMER UFISHTIM, VATAAS B'CHEIFETZ KAPEHA. Focusing on the second half, which is the part that's appropriate for our discussion, it says SHE WORKS WILLINGLY WITH HER HANDS.
As long as her work gets done, who really cares whether it's done willingly or not?
Didn't your mother ever tell you "Do it with a smile, or don't do it at all!" ?
Truthfully speaking, she does have an option. She can do her work unwillingly. Most of us get through the day, doing mundane tasks without much enthusiasm. But, we do what's required in fear of the consequence of NOT doing it.
What happens if my perfect, spotless, OCD neighbor comes over and sees I have Mount Everest growing out of my fleishig sink? And don't worry, Matzada's in the milchig one. And her left high healed shoe is standing in solitude at the door because it got stuck on the leftovers of my daughter's PB & J sandwich from..... yesterday. How would I feel (theoretically, of course)? Embarrassed.
And if an employee has a certain quota to fill by 5:00, regardless of his rapport with his boss, and whether or not he likes his work, if he wants to keep his job (and consequentially, his wife) he better finish that pile.
So, most of the time, we tend to our demanding, mundane activities without much desire or enthusiasm, in order to avoid facing the consequences of NOT doing them.
The GRA (VILLNA GAON), speaks about the unhappiness of a person who doesnt enjoy the process leading to his goal.
A few years ago, I decided to pursue my long awaited dream of playing the piano. So, while very busy with my family, home, and work, I added piano lessons to my agenda. The only time during the day I had available to practice, was at 2 in the morning, after a long, hard day. I dreaded those practices. Sometimes I would even clean the fridge rather than practice. It was such torture. I just wanted to be Beethoven already. I dreamed of my long, silky fingers flying effortlessly along the majors and minors, producing gorgeous, melodious compositions. But.... I didnt wanna practice. I despised it. So....I quit.
In order to reach a destined goal, a process of some sort is required. If it's done with enthusiasm and enjoyment, life is more enjoyable for the player, as well as for all the other participants that surround him. IF YOU FOCUS ON THE EFFORT, YOU'LL HARDLY NOTICE THE PLEASURE, BUT IF YOU FOCUS ON THE PLEASURE, YOU'LL HARDLY NOTICE THE EFFORT.
Yaakov could've dreaded those years, during which he would've been miserable, causing his misery to influence anyone in his vicinity. But he knew that the consequences would be terrible. He had so much enthusiasm and enjoyment during the 'waiting process' that the years literally felt like very few.
Enjoying the process leading to the goal is an important part of fully achieving that goal.
"The highest reward for toil is not what you get for it, but what you become from it".