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Home » Vayechi

Vayechi: To Know or Not to Know

Submitted by on January 2, 2006 – 11:25 pmNo Comment | 2,457 views

Revealing the Date

In this week’s Parsha we learn that Jacob thought to reveal the actual date of his children’s future redemption from Egypt but was prevented by G-d. That Jacob desired to reveal this date indicates that there is value in such knowledge. That he was ultimately barred from doing so demonstrates that there is also value in withholding such knowledge.

The value of the former is obvious. Knowing that the suffering would end, and precisely when to expect it to end, would encourage the children and motivate them to keep faith. What is the advantage of withholding such information?

Alternative Motives

By way of analogy let us consider two university students, both of equal ability, both enrolled in the same elective. The first student chose the course out of a keen interest in the material. The second entertains barely a passing interest in the material, his motivation is strictly to pass the exam and collect the credit.

The former student will retain the information longer and more accurately then the latter. This is because his connection to the material is internal, therefore authentic and long lasting. The second student is motivated by conditions outside of himself, namely his desire to pass the exam. Once that objective is achieved the inherent disconnect between the student and his studies, comes forth.

The same holds true in our connection to G-d. When our connection is motivated by faith and commitment it is tangible and long lasting. When it is predicated on anticipation of reward it is easily dislodged.

If we had direct knowledge of our reward it would become, at least in part, outo know or not to know - innerstreamr incentive to serve G-d. By denying us knowledge of the specific date of our redemption (the reward) we are afforded an opportunity for a deeper connection.

The Mitzvah to Await

This must not be confused with the mitzvah of awaiting Moshiach at every moment. Awaiting our redemption is a value, fulfilling Mitzvot only so that we can be rewarded it is not.

Indeed, May we soon be so rewarded…