Rabbi's Message

  • December 11, 2015


    Below is a very important insight from Rav Yochanan Zweig shlita, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Talmudical University of Miami Beach. Something very worthwhile to think about.

    Have a great Shabbos and a Chanukah Sameach!

    Behold, there came up from the river seven cows good looking cows and fat; and they fed in the reed grass. (41:2)

    Rashi (ad loc) makes an extraordinary comment on this verse; "this (the seven nice looking cows) represents the seven years of satiety whereupon all creations look kindly at one another, no one begrudging anyone else."

    Rashi seems to be changing the very meaning of the Pasuk. Instead of translating "nice looking cows" literally, Rashi explains that it means they look kindly at each other. Additionally, it is commonly understood that Pharaoh's dreams represented that there were going to be seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. Yet Rashi translates the "good years" as years of satiety not years of plenty or abundance.

    Rashi characterizes the good years as years of satiety for a simple reason; having an abundance doesn't mean that one is happy or even satisfied. In other words, abundance and famine aren't really antonyms; as having a lot doesn't necessarily mean you have enough. The Torah is promising that the seven years will be years of satiation; everyone will appreciate what they have and it will be enough. But this is a difficult standard to achieve. In fact, many people don't even know if they are satisfied let alone happy with what they have.

    Rashi gives us a stunning life lesson for knowing if you're happy person. The years of abundance weren't measured in quantity but rather in perspective. If you want to know if you're happy, examine your reaction when you look at other people's successes. Are you happy for them or are you a little bitter? When your neighbor gets a new car and you need one as well, are you happy for them or do you begrudge them a little? If the latter, then you aren't happy or satisfied with your own life. For the most part, being happy has very little to do with how much you have, it has to do with how you feel about yourself. The path to becoming a happy person is found totally within oneself. This is the deeper meaning to the Mishna in Pirkei Avos, "Who is a rich man? He that is joyful with his lot." Personal satisfaction leads to joy and ultimately to a lasting happiness.