by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths
The story of Yaacov and his family going down into Egypt is probably the most pressing story in the entire Torah. What makes it so important is that it is an ongoing story that each of us faces in our daily life. The Torah is not merely a history book, although it is that, too. It is our story in each generation.
Yaacov and his family were very happy living in their tents in Canaan, but then there was a severe famine. No food! They had to go down into Egypt to find sustenance for their families. This is the dilemma that each of us faces in our lives. We have to make a living. We have to go to work in order to acquire the funds that we need to support ourselves. This is the continuous story of going down into Egypt.
If we go down into Egypt the way that almost all of Yaakov’s children did, then we will certainly become enslaved by our work. No matter how much money we make, it will never be enough. We will always feel pressed to make more, and more, and more, until the day we lay on our death beds and ask, “Why did I do all that? I had enough a long time ago. And now I am about to die and I can take none of it with me. Oh, why did I waste my precious years chasing after things that I did not need?”
A neighbor recently moved to the Old City from Monsey. He told me that he settled his family here, and then went back to close out their house. He said that it took him two weeks to empty the garage of things that they had bought and never used. Their big joy came from going to the Mall to see what they wanted to buy…even things that they would never use. Egypt!
The tribe of Levi went into Egypt, too. But they went down into Egypt bringing the Torah and mitzvahs with them. The Torah was always their main focus, not the money. As a result, they never became enslaved.
How does knowing this help you and I get through our Egypt? If we go to work just to make money, then we will become enslaved by the money. However, if we go to work, even at that same job, but with the intention to get that same money in order to do mitzvahs, in order to have guests for Shabbos, to buy the family clothes, to be able to give charity…., then that very work will become holy work.
When our primary focus is on Hashem, then even in a wilderness we will find our livelihood laying on the ground right before us. All we have to do is bend over and pick it up. But look out! If you pick up more than you need, the extra portion is going to rot.