By Rabbi Avraham
Fischer. A publication of the Orthodox Union in cooperation with the Seymour
J. Abrams Orthodox Union Jerusalem World Center
NOW, ALL IS UNDERSTOOD. The vizier of Egypt is none other than Yoseph, and the brothers prepare to bring Yaakov and the entire family to live in Egypt. Yoseph provides them with all they will need and assures them they will be well cared-for in Goshen. As they leave to return to Canaan, Yoseph imparts his final instructions to his brothers: AL TIR'G'ZU BADERECH
THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING THIS COMMAND is the 3-letter root R-G-Z,
which essentially means "to tremble." and refers to the concept of agitation. Thus, Yoseph's parting words to his brothers are: "Do not become agitated on the way." What is his intention?
THE MAHARAL OF PRAGUE, in his commentary on
Rashi called "Gur Aryeh," explains that any action that is not properly arranged or executed is characterized by R-G-Z. So, Yoseph directs his brothers not to disrupt the normal order while making the journey to Canaan. After all, the transplanting of Yaakov's entire family to Egypt is a critical stage in the forging of the Jewish people, and it must happen smoothly.
APPARENTLY, YOSEPH IS WORRIED about any disruption to his plans that might hold up the family's ultimate reunion. But, what is Yoseph's concern? At this point, what could go wrong?
RASHI PRESENTS THREE WAYS OF UNDERSTANDING the word TIR'G'ZU and from them are derived several ramifications of Yoseph's instructions:
DO NOT GET INVOLVED IN DISPUTE: Do not become so involved in a discussion of
Halacha that you risk delay or getting lost on the way. Of course, you must discuss Torah along the road - Torah must direct you wherever you go - but stick to reviewing what you have learned; do not indulge in deep analysis, because you will lose your bearings (from Taanit 10b).
DO NOT GET STIRRED UP, OVERWROUGHT: Do not become overeager in reaching your destination that you forget basic safety. Although I said "hurry" (v.9), do not endanger yourselves by going to extremes. Remember that walking too quickly is dangerous to your eyesight (Pesachim 42a; Shabbat 113b). Don't push yourself to cover so much ground each day that you expose yourselves to bandits and dangerous roads; rather, be sure to arrive at each stop along the way while it is still light.
DO NOT GET ANGRY: Do not argue over what has happened - how our former differences resulted in my being sold into slavery and the ongoing suffering of our father. What is past is past, and it was all the will of Hashem. Let it be.
WITH THESE WORDS, Yoseph highlights the potential dangers in making a momentous change.
EACH OF US MAKES MAJOR TRANSITIONS in our lives. In any of life's enterprises, Yoseph's instructions AL TIR'G'ZU BADERECH - do not become disrupted along the way - is good advice. Sometimes external factors can distract us from our purpose; at other times, the passion for the purpose itself can sabotage us. AL TIRG'ZU BADERECH means: Stay on task. Set your goals and work towards them with planning and levelheadedness. Do not become sidetracked by disputes, nor overwhelmed by passion, nor despondent by mistakes.
ON ANY JOURNEY, WE CAN BECOME PREOCCUPIED:
We can become distracted by improperly focusing on the wrong issues, concentrating our energies where they do not belong. Do not get involved in disputes over these concerns, no matter how important they are in principle. Maintain focus on the real goals.
We can become distracted by overzealousness, by "blind" and reckless devotion. Do not become so obsessed with achieving that you jeopardize clarity of vision. Otherwise, you expose yourself to exploitation by others who do not share your commitment. Be methodical.
We can become distracted by past mistakes, false starts and errors in judgment. Do not be dragged into anger, neither by self-recrimination nor by finger-pointing. Be positive.
OF COURSE, IT IS ESSENTIAL to stay on task in worldly matters. But it is no less important in working towards spiritual goals. Whether one is trying to achieve a dramatic change in life-focus, or one is learning how to utter a simple prayer, there can be many obstacles. Again, the instructions are AL TIR'G'ZU
KNOW WHAT THE ISSUES ARE: Learn to differentiate between the essential and the peripheral. Do not blame the wrong factors and thus transfer your enthusiasm to the wrong areas.
DO NOT TAKE TOO LARGE STEPS: Build gradually and organically. Do not walk in darkness, but rather see and think
LEAVE THE PAST BEHIND: Wallowing in past errors is counterproductive. Rather than be depressed by it, learn from the past and build upon it.
AMONG THE MANY VALUABLE TEACHINGS of
Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, we learn of the thirteen personality characteristics. These are traits that require constant work and development. Among others, he taught about zerizut (diligence), menuchat hanefesh (peace of mind) and savlanut (patience), all of which are essential in making changes in one's life.
THE TALMUD TEACHES us how many great people became great by learning to progress with clarity of purpose, determination and patience.
Rabbi Akiva began his life as an unlettered shepherd. With the encouragement of his wife Rachel, he began his studies at the age of 40. Imagine how difficult that must have been for him! Attempting to learn all of the Torah, when he could not even read, and after leading a life disparaging scholarship it must surely have seemed an insurmountable task. Only by learning to focus on one achievable goal at a time - first, how to read, then Torah, then halacha - could he grow.
IN LIFE'S JOURNEY, AL TIR'G'ZU BADERECH: proceed with diligence, peace of mind and patience, and any goal can be achieved.