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    Walking, standing & sitting – Vayyeshev

    The sidra is entitled Vayyeshev, “And he sat”. The context actually requires the translation, “And he settled”.

    Linguistically the two versions are connected even though we would normally say that “to sit” is a temporary action while “to settle” implies a longer time-frame.

    Leaving that problem to the lexicographers, we can go off on a tangent and look at the beginning of the Book of Psalms.

    Psalm 1 contrasts the righteous person with the wicked. The tzaddik is called ashrei, “happy”.

    Samson Raphael Hirsch has a more sophisticated approach. Linking the root aleph-shin-resh to a word that means to step out, he tells us that ashrei indicates a person who has a direction in life.

    The Psalmist says that the person who is ashrei is challenged by three actions – how to walk, how to stand and how to sit.

    Unlike the rasha, the tzaddik does not walk in wicked ways, he does not pause in places where the sinners stand, and he does not sit where the mockers meet.

    In the course of his life’s journey the good person steps forward (“walks”); on the way he does not let himself slow down or stop in exciting or inciting places which threaten to entrap him in evil and sin.

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