Wednesday, December 02, 2009
The first place Ya’akov Avinu came to upon his return to the
land of Israel was Shechem, “וַיָּבֹא יַעֲקֹב שָׁלֵם עִיר שְׁכֶם ... וַיִּחַן אֶת־פְּנֵי הָעִיר/Ya’akov arrived safely in the city of … he camped opposite the city.” According to an enigmatic Midrash, Ya’akov arrived on Erev Shabbos and established eiruvei techumin. He kept Shabbos before it was given. What compelled the Midrash to give this interpretation to Ya’akov Avinu’s arrival in the Shechem ? land of Israel
Although the Divine Presence is concealed in the physical world, indeed the very purpose of the physical world is to conceal God’s Presence, still in certain places the Divine Presence is more revealed than in others. God, to be sure, does not change. From His perspective, as it were, there is no difference between one place and the next. From our perspective, though, it is easier for us to experience God in some places than in others.
The place in the world where it is easiest to experience God, the place were the Divine Presence is most revealed, is in the
. Outside the land of Israel , the Divine Presence is more hidden and it is more difficult to experience It. land of Israel
This concept is paralleled by the relationship between Shabbos and the days of the week. On Shabbos, God’s Presence is more easily experienced since it is more revealed. The entire world is more spiritually elevated on Shabbos. During the days of the week, on the other hand, it is difficult to experience God’s Presence. It is a struggle that requires a strong faith that regardless of appearances, God is here with us.
Working on strengthening our belief that God is with us during the week as well, helps us to experience God during the week. This is why the weekdays are called, “days of work.” Experiencing Divine revelation during the week requires work. Through the struggle, we can experience an aspect of Shabbos during the weekdays. In fact, Shabbos can be defined as a state of God’s revelation.
Ya’akov Avinu’s sojourn outside of the
was a descent from a place in which God’s Presence is most revealed to a place where it is most hidden. It parallels the decent from Shabbos to the days of the week. Ya’akov Avinu’s return to the land of Israel after spending twenty-two years abroad represents an elevation from the spiritual level of the days of the week, from struggle to experience God, to that of Shabbos during which God is more revealed. land of Israel
Significantly, the Midrash says that Ya’akov Avinu arrived on Erev Shabbos. The word erev/evening, also means “mixed together”. Erev Shabbos alludes to the idea that we can mix aspects of Shabbos into the weekdays. Ya’akov Avinu’s return to the
on Erev Shabbos represents his struggle to elevate his weekdays to a level of Shabbos in order to experience revelation during the week as well. land of Israel
We learn from Ya’akov Avinu that regardless of outward appearances, we, too, through hard work, can experience an aspect of Shabbos – Divine revelation – during the weekdays. May we merit it!