The problem with clichés is that their banality allows us to ignore how true they are.

Take a cliché like “Ignorance is bliss.” How facile—and how true! Are you sick to your soul of all the ugliness and injustice in the world? Just close your eyes, and make believe it ain’t so. And when reality barges in your door and comes crashing down on your head, close your eyes tighter, imagine harder. If you sing loud enough to drown out the sounds of carnage in the next street or continent, you can experience peace (or at least participate in a ceremony celebrating the same).

The opening verse of this week’s Torah reading, Vayeishev (Genesis 37–40), speaks of Jacob’s desire to “settle down in tranquility.” Anyone following the Torah’s account of Jacob’s life until this point cannot but agree that, after 34 years of fleeing from Esau and slaving for Laban, Jacob deserves some peace and quiet. But the very next verse begins the story of how, as the Talmud puts it, “there pounced on him the trouble of Joseph”: the most beloved of Jacob’s sons is sold into slavery by his own brothers, and for 22 years Jacob grieves, thinking him dead; and then Jacob is compelled to spend the last years of his life far from home, in alien Egypt.

Why, indeed, was Jacob’s desire denied him? “When the righteous wish to settle in tranquility,” explain our sages, “G‑d says: Is it not enough for them what is prepared for them in the World to Come, that they also ask for a tranquil life in this world?”

But why not? Does G‑d have a limited quantity of tranquility to mete out? Why can’t we have the peace and perfection of the World to Come, and a few years of respite in this world as well?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that the World to Come is a world of truth. And “truth” does not tolerate partial solutions. It is a world in which what happened yesterday and what will happen tomorrow cannot be divorced from what’s happening today, and what’s happening to your fellow man cannot be separated from what is happening to yourself. Peace in our still unperfected world, viewed from the perspective of the “World to Come,” is a lie.

Many are content to live this lie: to forget what happened yesterday, avoid thinking about what will happen tomorrow, ignore the sadness in a neighbor’s eye, the poverty on the other side of town and the bombs in the other time zone.

But then there are the righteous: men and women who cannot relish their meal as long as someone, somewhere, remains hungry; who, if there is ignorance in the world, know their own wisdom to be deficient; who, if there is discord anywhere in G‑d’s creation, cannot be at peace with themselves.

Yes, you can have some peace in this world, and then experience the real thing in the World to Come—if you’re willing to let the World to Come come when it comes.

The righteous are not that patient. Their physical selves may be stuck in this world, but their minds and souls inhabit the World to Come. They refuse to close their eyes.