Small enough to know you. Large enough to serve you.

Mindset is Everything (Vayechi – 01/07/23)

Mindset is Everything

I recently spoke with a friend who was lamenting her daughter’s “single” status. I told the woman to envision and feel her happiness and joy when she’d hear that her daughter is happily dating someone. In doing so, she’s planting that seed in the universe, and God (or the Universe) will eventually cause that seed to sprout (provided the daughter also wants this).

She asked me if that is how I live my life. I answered her, “yes.” This concept, first publicized by the book/movie, “The Secret,” is known as the “law of attraction.” It posits that our thoughts and feelings are energy, which will either attract or create what we’re concentrating upon. The woman commented, “that’s an empowering idea,” but I felt that she was still highly skeptical.

Timing is everything, and as I read last week’s Parsha, Vayechi, I felt that within its words, there was support for this theory.

The parsha begins in Egypt during the last year of Jacob’s life. Upon his deathbed, he calls upon his children to bury him in the land of Canaan, and he then blesses them.

However, before coming to Egypt, Jacob had a miserable life:

  • In the womb, he fights with his brother, and upon birth, he’s holding onto Esau’s heel, protesting that he should be first.
  • He then extorts the firstborn rights from Esau and later impersonates him to steal his blessings.
  • Jacob then lives twenty years with an infamous swindler, his uncle, Lavan, who tricks him into marrying the wrong woman and changes his wage tens of times.
  • Upon his return to Canaan, he hears that his brother, Esau, is trying to kill him and scrambles to appease him.
  • Once they return to Canaan, his only daughter, Dinah, is raped and abducted.
  • Once she’s violently reclaimed, Rachel, his beloved wife and soulmate, dies in childbirth.
  • After sending his favorite and most talented son, Joseph, to check upon the welfare of his other sons and the flocks, he’s presented with a bloodstained garment, told that the lad has been torn to pieces. He mourns for 22 years and is only appeased when they are reunited.

In last week’s parsha, when Jacob comes down to Egypt and is introduced to Pharoah, the first thing Pharoah says is, “How old are you?” Jacob doesn’t look just 130; he looks a thousand years old! Jacob replies,

וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יַֽעֲקֹב֙ אֶל־פַּרְעֹ֔ה יְמֵי֙ שְׁנֵ֣י מְגוּרַ֔י שְׁלשִׁ֥ים וּמְאַ֖ת שָׁנָ֑ה מְעַ֣ט וְרָעִ֗ים הָיוּ֙ יְמֵי֙ שְׁנֵ“

The days of dwelling have been 130 years; short and bad have been the years of my life….”

Yet, in this week’s Parsha, it seems that Jacob is happy and content. The parsha begins with the words,

וַיְחִ֤י יַֽעֲקֹב֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם שְׁבַ֥ע עֶשְׂרֵ֖ה שָׁנָ֑ה,

“And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt for seventeen years.” The rabbis note that the words “and lived” imply that he finally lived contently. Even his family grew significantly during this time.

וַיֵּ֧שֶׁב יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל בְּאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרַ֖יִם בְּאֶ֣רֶץ גּ֑שֶׁן וַיֵּאָֽחֲז֣וּ בָ֔הּ וַיִּפְר֥וּ וַיִּ

“And the Israelites dwelt in the land of Goshen, and they settled there, and they multiplied greatly.”

What changed for Jacob? His mindset, for he was no longer in charge, no longer the sole bearer of responsibility for his family.

Earlier, Joseph promised: “Now, hurry back to my father and say to him: Thus says your son Joseph, ‘God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me without delay. You will dwell in the region of Goshen, where you will be near me—you and your children and your grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all that is yours. There I will provide for you; you will not suffer want.’

Likewise, God also removed the worry from Jacob’s heart:

God called to Israel in a vision by night: “I am God, the God of your fathers. Fear not to go down to Egypt, for I will make you there into a great nation. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you back, and Joseph shall watch over you.”

Disappointment, envy, and fear fill the first 130 years of Jacob’s life. He, himself, admits that they “are short and bad.” Our thoughts are energy, which then become our reality. If fear and worry fill our mindset, then these are the elements we will attract. However, upon hearing Joseph’s and God’s promises, all those concerns left him. Without worry, he could freely pursue his dream of creating a family that would be a powerful spiritual force in the world.

Call it psychosomatic, self-fulfilling prophecy, or the “law of attraction”, either way, we see from our Parsha that our mindset and beliefs create our outcomes.

Envision and feel your dreams for 2023, for they will materialize.

Happy and Healthy 2023,

R’ Neil, Judy, and family

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