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Vayeishav: Seeking Peace

ויאמר לו לך נא ראה את שלום אחיך ואת שלום הצאן והשבני דבר.

“And he said to him, please go and see if there is peace to your brothers and peace to the sheep, and return to tell me.” (Bereishis 37:14)

This is what Yakov told Yosef when sending him off on that fateful mission, from which he never returned.

We can find an important message in this verse. In the famous tefillah (prayer) of Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk zt”l, we say: “And give into our hearts [the ability] so that each one of us should see the good in our friends, and not see their faults.”

The Torah recounts that Yosef criticized his brothers and complained to Yakov about their conduct. Therefore, Yakov now told him to go and “see the peace in your brothers.” The word “shalom – peace” means to be wholesome, complete. Yakov instructed Yosef to seek the sheleimus (perfection) in his brothers, their good parts, instead of focusing on their faults and shortcomings. If Yosef would find the good in his brothers, then they would also see the good in him. At the time that Yosef went to the fields, the brothers “hated him and couldn’t speak to him in peace.” But by focusing on their worthiness, Yosef would start a chain reaction that would cause his brothers’ hatred to dissipate.

The Ahavas Yisroel zt”l settled in the city of Grossvardein after the First World War. The Jewish inhabitants of the city were mostly Ashkenazim. When the Ahavas Yisroel arrived, along with a number of Chassidim, some of the old-timers were annoyed by the presence of Chassidim in their midst. Things went so far that the residents sent a message to the Rebbe, stating that he is unwanted in the city. “Why should you stay here?” they asked. “You’ll be surrounded by hostile neighbors.” The Rebbe replied, “I will love my enemies with all my heart, until they will love me in return!” And indeed, this is what happened. Surprisingly enough, within a short time the entire city was deeply attached to the Rebbe with a strong, loving relationship.

This approach is seen in the verse: “Please go and see” - try to see in your mind’s eye “the peace of your brothers” – how you live at peace with your brothers. You should focus on loving them with all your heart, and then “return davar.Davar, which means to tell, indicates harsh language. If you will think well of them, they will return (give up) the hostility and harsh language, and will love you instead. There will be peace and love among the brothers.

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