Vayigash: living in God’s will

Regardless what we may believe or be certain about as part of God’s Creation, our lives belong to His will. There’s an endless debate around this Fundamental Principle of Judaism in regards to free will. If we ultimately fulfill God’s will regardless the choices we make, do we really have free will? The answer is yes because our choices, either be “right” or “wrong”, ultimately lead us to the Truth of who we really are and our mission in this world. In other words, making positive or negative choices makes us aware of them by their results, from which we learn to make the next choice. This means that ultimately sooner o later we will end up doing the right thing. Then it is up to us to either learn through positive or negative experiences.

We have said before that Judaism considers evil as a negative reference to be avoided, and in the worst case scenario to learn form; and not to live for because we are not born to be masochists. Regrettably, most of us in this world may not have it clear enough, and to prove it we just need to take a look around. We must reflect thoroughly about God’s Creation and realize that it is far bigger than ego’s pretension to make us believe that we are gods in our material fantasies, desires and illusions.

Once we get humble enough it may be possible to accept God’s will and not ours. It took King David’s whole life and the 150 chapters of his Psalms to realize this, and is one of the main lessons we learn from the story of Joseph and his brothers: “But now do not be sad, and let it not trouble you that you sold me here, for it was to preserve life that God sent me before you.” (Genesis 45:5) and His will is indeed His Love for His Creation to sustain it every moment for the sake of the goodness that life is: “(…) And God sent me before you to make for you a remnant in the land, and to live for a great deliverance.” (45:7).

In our awareness of God’s Love there is always a land to sustain life, as our means to pursue our deliverance when the material reality does not provide for our essential needs. We face famine not only when the land does not provide for our sustenance, but also when the material world (also a “land”) does not offer us true spiritual fulfillment in the illusions we create from our “individual” reality.

Here we understand that ego (Pharaoh) must be directed by the discernment and wisdom with which Love (Joseph) approaches God’s Creation as an emanation of His Love: “And now, you did not send me here but God and He made me a father to Pharaoh, a lord over his entire household, and a ruler over the entire land of Egypt.” (45:8)

We have learned from these passages of the Torah that Joseph is the epitome of Love ever since he was chosen by Israel to be his firstborn, and Love’s attributes led him to ascend as the destined guide of all levels and dimensions of consciousness, ego included. Love’s greatest and most formidable challenge is to direct our awareness amid the hardships of the material world. These difficulties range from the adversity of natural phenomena to the negative aspects of thought, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts.

Our Sages tell us that hatred against Hebrews, hostility, aggressiveness, depravity and immorality were the main traits of the ancient Egyptians, and coming down to them was a threat for people with opposite qualities. Israel and his children knew this in spite of Joseph ascent to power. In such predicament Israel prays to the Creator, and His Love answers: “I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up, and Joseph will place his hand on your eyes.” (46:4).

This verse reminds us to be mindful about His will. Our Sages teach that living in the darkness of a negative consciousness (Egypt) is the premise to recognize the Light of Redemption. In this sense, as we mentioned above, our negative choices sooner or later lead us to discern positive from negative, right from wrong, useful from useless. In this process we have to know who we are, from where we come, and the destiny that we are commanded to fulfill: “And Pharaoh said to his brothers, ‘What is your occupation?’ And they said to Pharaoh, ‘Your servants are shepherds, both we and our forefathers’.” (47:3).

The children of Israel are descendants of people who were commanded by their God to lead as “the Light for the nations” those in need of positive guidance. This Commandment is an abomination among peoples whose traits are far from positive. Let’s bear in mind that anti-Semitism and Judeophobia are as ancient as Judaism, and the defamers of Jews are those who opposed the ethical principles that sustain and promote moral freedom in all levels of consciousness. In its quest and history, Judaism’s existence reflects our Patriarch Israel’s life: “The days of the years of my life have been few and miserable [lit. evil], and they have not reached the days of the years of the lives of my forefathers in the days of their sojourning.” (47:9).

Only in our relentlessness will we be able to fulfill our destiny, no matter how negative and adverse may be the illusions of the material world: “And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen, and they acquired property in it, and they were prolific and multiplied greatly.” (47:27). We did it in Egypt and we have done throughout history with God’s Presence among us. Even if most of our days and years have been amid evil, God’s Love never abandons us. With our Love we will also reach out to our Final Redemption, which is also everyone’s Redemption.

Then we will reach the days of the years of our forefathers: “And I will form a Covenant of Peace for them [Israel], an everlasting Covenant shall be with them; and I will establish them and I will multiply them, and I will place My Sanctuary in their midst forever. And My dwelling place shall be over them, and I will be to them for a God, and they shall be to Me as a people.” (Ezekiel 37:26-27) and for us this prophecy is fulfilled when we as Israel meet His will, which is the ways and attributes of God’s Love.

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Zefat.
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