Is it really possible that Yaakov asked of God to dwell in tranquility in the true sense of the word? That would seem quite impossible, for if you look at his life, within the paradigm of toiling in Torah, he didn’t sleep for 14 years while learning, and within the arena of work he gave over his heart and soul to work honestly for 20 years to a charleton. The word “tranquility” wasn’t part of Yaakov’s vocabulary. Therefore, what was the question?
Perhaps there are two elements to Torah, and Yaakov was addressing one of them. There’s the actual toil in Torah where one must meimit atzmo for it, as Chazal say, “Ein Torah mitkayemet elah b’mi she’meimit atzmo aleha, Torah stays with he who sacrifices his life for it,” which Yaakov did in yeshiva. Then there’s the tranquility of Torah that comes as a result of learning the Torah, as the verse (Psalms 19:8) says, “Torat Hashem temima, meshivat nafesh, The Torah is complete, it returns the soul.”
It may well be that Yaakov felt that the day-to-day toil and backbreaking work in the Torah was done. The ameilut was put in. He was created as a result and was now at the second stage, where he wanted the tranquility part of the Torah, to reap the hana’ah, benefit, from the learning, ponder in sugyas without the pressure of the rogez of Torah and pass on the Torah to his children. To this God answered that Torah must always involve extreme work and sacrifice to help one grow on a constant basis.
That can explain God’s answer. You will get all the peace and quiet to ponder sugyas in the next world, but in this world your Torah must be b’rogez, otherwise, as a substitute for the rogez of Torah, your life will be thrown b’rogez.
Steven Genack is the author of “Articles, Anecdotes & Insights,” Genack/Genechovsky Torah from Gefen Press.