Parshas Vayigash
Genesis 44:18 - 47:27

How Can I Help End Human Suffering? ©
By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mrs. Ethel Belk may she rest in peace.

Last week we discussed "How G-d Is With Us." This week we discuss what G-d reveals to us...

Yitzchok knew that Yosief was in Mitzriam. Why didn't he tell his son Yaakov? The ten sons of Yaakov knew Yosief was in Mitzriam. Why didn't they tell their father and stop all this needless suffering? For nine years Yosief was Viceroy of Mitzriam. Why didn't he contact his father? Why didn't he put an end to all this needless suffering? How is it that Yosief's brothers did not recognize him? Yosief, his wife and children each dressed like the frum {Orthodox} Jews of their day. Yosief, his wife and children spoke Hebrew... How is it that all of this didn't register? Why didn't it?

Actually we live in a world where the very same thing goes on from day to day. We pass a beggar on the street, our first thought is, 'He needs a bottle of wine." At the end of a freeway exit someone holds up the sign, 'Please help! Will work for food..' We read on the internet, 'Dr. Belk fell and broke his foot and cannot work...'

Dear reader, there are so many signs of pain, suffering, and needs in our fast paced world that we become easily detached. Often they do not faze us. We push them off. We pass on the opportunity to allow them to be meaningful in our lives.


Caring In Trying Times

Recently my mother, Ethel Bas Chanah passed on, may she rest in peace. Because my foot was broken and because I was unable to drive a stick shift it was necessary to depend on my wonderful wife, Naomi, for transportation to my parents' home some 45 miles away. We live in a mountain community which has already received about seven snow storms this VERY DRY year. Naomi is unexperienced in serious weather conditions. As it happens, the day we left for Denver a serious winter storm was underway. The roads were icy. The wind was blowing hard. Visibility was poor. Even though we left early we had only traveled a short distance by 8:00 am. Normally one could drive twice to Denver in this time. We were on the same section of Interstate 70 where a few days earlier an eighty car pile up occurred with several fatalities. Only a few vehicles passed us as we crawled along. Many were along the drive offs putting chains on. Eventually all traffic came to a halt because of an accident. As a result, we didn't make it to Denver.

My brother was also caught in the same horrible storm with his family and our son. They were involved in a serious accident on the same stretch of interstate. Thank G-d no one was hurt. They were able to continue on. We didn't make it to Denver, he didn't make it to our home. It was a Friday. It was very trying!

That Shabbos was difficult to say the least. We mourned Mother's death. We worried for my brother, his family and our son. A night earlier I dreamed they would have an accident and both my brother and our son would perish. Naomi and I prayed for their safety as well as ours...

What is the point of this story?

My brother and his party drove 23 hours without rest to get to Denver for Mother's funeral. They had a serious accident en route... they made it to Denver on Friday and spent Shabbos with my father. After Shabbos they had to return to L.A. immediately. But before they left my brother phoned. Naomi and I were planning to attempt another trip to Denver after Shabbos. Instead my brother said, 'Akiva It is difficult for you to travel. Neither you nor Naomi can drive in the dark. Your foot is swollen! You're on medication. I want to stay with Dad as long as he desires then I want to come see you and Naomi. After we spend some time together we will travel on to L.A." At 12:30 a.m. Motzi Shabbos my brother arrived with his family and our son. We hadn't seen each other for a few years. We sat. We talked! We remembered! We cried! Four hours later they left for L.A. They arrived in L.A., thank G-d, at about 9 pm Sunday evening.

The point to this story is it is important to be caring!

It is all too easy to ignore human signs of pain, suffering, and needs in our fast paced internet world. It is too easy to become detached from assisting our fellow human being. At this time of the year with Chanukah concluding we need to remember the importance of keeping the Chanukah light burning beyond the eight days with our actions of kindness to our fellow human!

Yitzchok and Yaakov's ten sons and Yosief could have ended Yaakov's needless suffering but they didn't.

As Torah observant Jews we understand it was necessary for Yosief to be separated from Yaakov for twenty-two years BUT IT WAS NOT NECESSARY for Yaakov to mourn twenty-two years. It was not necessary for him to suffer needlessly!

As Chanukah concludes, let's put forth the effort to keep the light burning.

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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