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Vayetze 5773

By: Rav David Milston

Comings and Goings - Rav Milston " , ; , " "And Yaakov went out from Be'er-Sheva, and went towards Charan" (Bereishit 28:10) Rashi asks the following question: "The verse only really needs to inform us that Yaakov went to Charan, so why does it mention his departure from Be'er Sheva?" Let us look at some of the possible answers to Rashi's question: 1: The Rashi approach: "Our verse mentions the departure of Ya'akov from his hometown to inform us that the departure of a righteous person from a place makes an impression. For when a righteous person lives in a city, he is its magnificence, he is its splendor, and he is its grandeur. But once he has departed from there, its magnificence has gone, as has its splendor and grandeur." According to Rashi's suggested answer the first half of our verse is describing the impact that Ya'akov's departure had on his hometown, whilst the latter part informs us of his projected destination. Yet even though these comments seem pretty straightforward Kli Yakar questions them: "But did Avraham and Yitzchak never journey? If, as Rashi suggests, Ya'akov's departure is emphasized in our verse to underline the ramifications of his departure upon those left behind, why does scripture never allude to the journeys of his father and grandfather in the same fashion, surely when men of such stature moved on it would have had a similar effect on those who remained?" Kli Yakar answers his own question in very different ways: Firstly we could suggest that when Avraham and Yitzchak left town, they never left anyone of true caliber behind, and so the verse does not need to state the obvious. If great men leave town, and they leave no one of substance in their stead, then it is obvious that their departure would affect those who remained. But in Ya'akov's case, the town of Be'er Sheva was not left to dwindle and die; Yitzchak and Rivka were still there! Hence the verse needs to emphasize that despite the fact that his holy father and mother remained behind, Ya'akov's exit still made an impact. The second answer offered by Kli Yakar is almost the antithesis of the first. When Avraham and Yitzchak left town they left none of their followers behind. Those who nonetheless chose to remain had different beliefs altogether and remained unaffiliated to the monotheistic religion being developed in the region by the two giants. As such, the exodus of Avraham and Yitzchak left no impact upon them whatsoever, just as their presence had made no impression on them in the first instance. However, in stark contrast, when Ya'akov left home he left alone, and those that remained were largely of the same ilk, hence his departure made a huge impression. To a man of Yitzchak's religious status, losing a man of Ya'akov's quality was a spiritual catastrophe. 2: The Bet HaLevi approach: Bet HaLevi has an ingenious solution to the problem posed by Rashi: As we know, Ya'akov's premature departure from Be'er Sheva was essentially provoked by Rivka's discovery of Esav's precarious intentions regarding his brother. Rivka was convinced that Ya'akov was in imminent danger, and that Esav was simply playing for time whilst lying in wait for the right moment to enact a terrible revenge upon his 'devious' brother he had been 'cheated' twice and was more than ready to settle the scores. Rivka knew that Ya'akov must leave Be'er Sheva immediately, and she also knew why; yet when discussing the matter of Ya'akov's future plans with Yitzchak she opted for a very different approach: "And Rivka said to Yitzchak: 'I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Chet. If Ya'akov take a wife of the daughters of Chet, such as these, of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?'" (Bereishit 27:46) Instead of discussing the developing family strife with her husband, Rivka explained to Yitzchak that Ya'akov must leave immediately in order to find a wife in Charan. As far as Rivka was concerned Ya'akov had to get out of Be'er Sheva as soon as possible. From Yitzchak's perspective however, it was not about leaving Be'er Sheva per say, it was about going to Charan to find a wife. Therefore, Ya'akov actually received two different instructions from his parents; one was to leave home, whilst the other was to journey to Charan. Bet Halevi concludes that the seemingly superfluous nature of the verse is actually teaching us that Ya'akov was obeying the wishes of both his parents. He left Be'er Sheva in accordance with his mother's wishes to keep him out of harms way; but he went Charan in order to fulfill his father's directive and find a wife. 3: The Kedushat Levi approach: Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, in his phenomenal commentary Kedushat Levi, firstly notes a different question in our verse. Ya'akov was on his way out of Eretz Yisrael to exile, yet scripture uses the words "went out" as opposed to the normal phrase applied in such instances "went down". Why is the word "yerida", to descend, not used in our verse? He answers using the words of Rashi quoted above: "When a righteous person lives in a city, he is its magnificence, he is its splendor, and he is its grandeur. But once he has departed from there, its magnificence has gone, as has its splendor and grandeur." Rav Levi Yitzchak suggests that when Ya'akov left Eretz Yisrael he took the magnificence, the splendor and the grandeur with him. The beginning of the verse is not just to tell us that Ya'akov left Be'er Sheva, but rather that he took it with him! He knew he was Israel and so he decided never to really leave wherever he went he took Israel with him. Ya'akov did not descend from the holy land - Eretz Yisrael was never out of his mind! So many of our students come to Israel and truly experience an almost utopian Torah life in the holiest place on earth, but how are we to retain all that we have gained? Ya'akov Avinu, who spent so much time away from home teaches us what to do. We have to internalize our experiences, and take them with us on all of our journeys throughout life. Rav Hirsch asks why the poles of the Aron Kodesh had to be left attached to the Aron at all times; even when Bnei Yisrael were encamped and they were seemingly superfluous. He answers that symbolically the Torah is telling us that the Aron is always ready to journey with us! Our Torah must be with us wherever we go. , uvelechtecha baderech It must accompany us when we walk by the way, when we are with our family, when at work, when times are good, and when things are not going the way we would want them to. But it is not only the Torah that we require by our side during our years of exile; Eretz Yisrael must be with us too. Ya'akov spent over two decades in chutz la'aretz, totally absorbed in his work, but he never forgot his homeland Heaven forbid! He knew throughout this period that he was a stranger in a strange land. He knew that Charan was not home, even though he married there, even though his children were born there, a day did not go by when he did not dream of returning to the Promised Land. And that is exactly what he did as soon as the appointed time arrived. Indeed it was only once he returned that he could finally consider himself to be complete - "Shalem"! Many of us, through no choice of our own, are forced to live temporarily outside ofIsrael, but we must never forget that wherever we may sojourn it is most definitely a station not a destination (as my beloved teacher Rabbi Bernstein often said) it is not home and it never will be. Every Jew who says the "Shemonah Esreh" with full faith every day must know that! In truth, we have had a difficult few weeks here in Israel. But it should be crystal clear to each and every one of us that the challenges that face , haam hayoshev betzion, are not ours and ours alone. The challenges that Israel faces belong to us all! The Land of Israel is the inheritance of the entire people of Israel our struggle is your struggle, our miracles are your miracles, and our victories are your victories. Wherever you may be, be sure to follow the example set by Ya'akov Avinu, be sure to always have Israel on your mind, be sure to walk the streets of chutz la'aretz with Torat Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael by your side. Be sure that you never stop yearning to return to the place of our forefathers to the holiest place on earth! To quote the Meshech Chochmah (Vayikra 26) we must be oh so careful not to turn "Berlin" into "Yerushalayim". There is no alternative, and we don't want an alternative. Yerushalayim and Israelwill never be replaced, by Golders Green, by Brooklyn, by Lakewood or by Glenhazel. However long one "needs" to be in galut, never ever forget that it is not where we belong, Yaakov never forgot and neither did Yosef. Moshe Rabbeinu prayed for the reality that I live every day of my life, and I never forget the wonderful gift of Israel, especially when I hear a siren! When I hear a siren, I am filled with love and determination for my country and my people. It strengthens my resolve and confirms my belief. It reminds me of how lucky I am to be where I am and do what I do I am part of Shivat Tzion the return toZion! I have said to you all on so many occasions, that I would never want to be anywhere else at any time. But specifically now, this is the time to come and support, to stand up and be counted to show what our priorities really are, this is the time to be here! We must be here, we must show our enemies that we will not be removed from our homeland ever again, come what may, we are here for keeps! There is no better time than right now to get on a plane and stand together with Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael! But if you are not here, and you cannot make it right now, there is so much that can still be done. First and foremost real Tefillah we all know only too well, that to mumble a chapter of Tehillim at the end of Tefillah is largely ineffective. Stop for a moment and say the prayers properly we can find the time. Think of the hundreds of thousands of our children who have already spent ten days in a "bomb shelter". If you want to feel it, live it, then go online to "Galei Tzahal", and hear how many times regular broadcasts are interrupted in order to direct people in the south to their bomb shelters it is a heart rending experience and it will only strengthen our will to pray to the Almighty with a complete and sincere heart. Secondly, donations can be sent to help people rebuild their houses and businesses, to bring a smile to the faces of our children. Our students take turns to stand in the middle of the Rova collecting "Agorot for Sderot" and they have already accumulated well over three thousand shekels in just a few days. Our intention is to take the money to the communities of the south you can help with this too. Thirdly, wherever you may be, don't let the BBC and CNN get away with their constant lies. Go online, comment, argue, state the truth it doesn't take long and it is important. If you are in college, make sure that our voice is being heard! We will see this through, bezrat Hashem, but we must see it through together as one nation we are all in it together. It doesn't really matter where we are right now, the obligation is a national one and it includes every Jew in the world. I believe with a complete belief that just as we have overcome the challenges of the past we will deal with those of the present and the future bayamim hahem bezman hazeh! Shabbat Shalom, Rav Milston


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