This week's parsha
Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the Chabad.org website. We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given. For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website. If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the Chabad.org website.
Refusing Comfort, Keeping Hope
The deception has taken place. Joseph has been sold into slavery. His brothers dipped his coat in blood. They bring it back to their father, saying: “Look what we have found. Do you recognise it? Is this your son’s robe or not?” Jacob recognizes it and replies, “It is my son’s robe. A wild beast has devoured him. Joseph has been torn to pieces.” We then read:
Jacob rent his clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourned his son for a long time. His sons and daughters tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. He said, “I will go down to the grave mourning for my son.”
Resisters and Affirmers
A psychologist who was researching religious attitudes in the Jewish community, some years ago, came to the conclusion that some people could be termed “resisters” while others are “affirmers.” The resisters resist being told what to do. When considering the details of some aspect of traditional Jewish life, and all its dos and don’ts, the typical resister often feels it is too much and too difficult, and has to struggle to comply.
By contrast, the affirmers feel inspired and encouraged. They love hearing what Jewish teachings tell them. If they hear that they have to go to a lot of trouble in order to ensure that some aspect of daily life is more closely in accordance with Jewish law, they cheerfully accept this. “No problem, yes, of course . . .”
The Night Belongs to Jacob
Our patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob established a rite of prayer that is followed to this very day. Abraham composed the morning service ("Shacharit"), Isaac the afternoon service ("Minchah") , and Jacob the evening service ("Maariv").
In prayer we draw divine energy into our environment and ourselves. Since each day progresses through three stages -- morning, afternoon and evening -- it is necessary to pray three times every day. Each prayer is designed a little differently from the others in order to draw on the specific form of energy required at that stage. Each prayer was instituted specifically by the patriarch whose spiritual character was aligned with the particular form of energy associated with that prayer.
The first stage of the day occurs as dawn breaks. This moment is filled with promise, the excitement of potential is in the air. The divine energy that is required at this time is that of optimism. Abraham, a man of positive spirit and infinite optimism, accordingly coined the Shacharit prayer.