Wednesday, November 25, 2009

VaYeitzei 5634 First Ma'amar

וַיֵּצֵא יַעֲקֹב מִבְּאֵר שָׁבַע וַיֵּלֶך חָרָנָה/Ya’akov left Be’er Sheva; he went towards Charan.” (Breishis 28:10)  Rashi, quoting a Midrash asks the obvious question.  The beginning of this pasuk seems extraneous.[1]  We know where Ya’akov Avinu lived.  Unless there is an indication otherwise, we can assume that his point of departure was Be’er Sheva, his hometown.  Why does the Torah tell us this?

The Sfas Emes explains that, “וַיֵּצֵא/He left”, implies an orderly, prearranged journey.  The pasuk makes a point of telling us that he left to teach us that although Ya’akov Avinu fled, he prepared for his journey.  Usually when someone flees, he is happy to escape with his life.  There is usually not much time to prepare.  There is little forethought and one’s actions are anything but orderly.  We know that Ya’akov Avinu fled.  Rivka told him, “בְּרַח־לְךָ/flee for yourself,” and the prophet said, “וַיִּבְרַח יַעֲקֹב/Yaakov fled.”  Yet, even though he was forced to run, he prepared.

He was leaving the holy environment of his father’s home.  In Charan, he would be surrounded by idolatry and decadence.  Ya’akov knew that he would need to prepare in order to survive the difficult spiritual assault on his very being.  For this reason the first Midrash on the parsha applies the following pasuk to Ya’akov, “אָז תֵּלֵךְ לָבֶטַח דַּרְכֶּךָ .../Then you shall go securely on your way …” (Mishlei 3:23)  And a few pesukim later in Mishlei we find, “... אִם־תָּרוּץ לֹא תִכָּשֵׁל/… if you run, you will not stumble.”  The Midrash is teaching us that Ya’akov’s preparation would protect him.

What did Ya’akov Avinu do to prepare for his journey?  The kabbalists say that he connected to a higher spiritual level.  Be’er Sheva represents the high spiritual level he was on.  Ya’akov Avinu left this high level to connect to an even higher level.[2]

Furthermore, according to the principle of מַעֲשֶׂה אָבוֹת סִימָן לַבָּנִים/The deeds of the forefathers is a sign for the descendents, everything that Ya’akov did when he fled to Charan, was also to prepare us, his descendents, for our own exile.

The definition of exile is concealment of God just as the definition of redemption is God’s revelation.  Ya’akov Avinu knew that our exile would lead us to places where God is most hidden.  Ya’akov Avinu wanted to prepare us for this terrible exile.  This is why he put himself in all the places in which it would be very difficult to experience God, indeed, to even believe that His Presence is there.

The Torah therefore tells us, “וַיִּפְגַּע בַּמָּקוֹם/He chanced upon the place.”  Ya’akov Avinu was brought to a place that was so “far” from God, so to speak, that even he, who was unimaginably sensitive to God’s presence, was able to declare, “אָכֵן יֵשׁ ה׳ בַּמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה וְאָנֹכִי לֹא יָדָעתִּי/Indeed, God is in this place and I did not know!’  God brought Ya’akov to the lowest spiritual place, where it is difficult to believe that God’s Presence resides, and showed him that, “... מְלֹא כָל־הָאָרֶץ כְּבוֹדוֹ/… the entire world is filled with His glory.”

With this concept we can understand the significance of the fact that it was specifically Ya’akov Avinu who instituted the evening prayers.  Evening represents exile and God’s concealment just as morning represents redemption and God’s revelation.  By instituting the evening prayers, Ya’akov Avinu taught us that we are able to approach God and experience Him even in exile, even where He is concealed. 

Many times we find ourselves in situations that belie God’s Presence.  We can learn from Ya’akov Avinu that appearances are deceiving.  The truth is that God’s Presence is ubiquitous and we have the ability to experience Him regardless of external appearances.  It is a matter of cultivating a belief in the truth even if our surroundings are sending us a different message.  May we merit it!

[1] Breishis R. 68:6, Rashi ad loc.
[2] Magid Meisharim VaYeitzei Mahadura Kama – Be’er Sheva represents Knesses Yisrael and the seven lower Sefiros.  VaYeilech and Charanah represent connecting with the three higher Sefiros.  See source for more detail.

1 comment:

N said...

Geshmack!!!! ;)