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The Systems of the Jewish Year

"What Goes Up Must Come Down" - Comments

1 Yehoshua on 2009 11 29

I would like to tell you what might be the real meaning of this parsha.  It is about the purity of Eretz Yisrael on the one hand and the dangerous beguilements of exile on the other. One remarkable feature of this parsha is that there is not a single pause or space between sentences.  Looking at the actual text inside the Torah itself, the enitre parasha is one long uninterrupted story without a moment to pause or reflect.  This is the story of the Jew in galut.  He builds a family and may even amass a fortune but it is all done without yeshuv hada’at, without the accompaniment of angels from Eretz Yisrael, without a moment of menuha nafshit.  When Ya’akov leaves Eretz Yisrael, his angels leave with him, ascending the ladder, to be replaced by the angels of hutz la’aretz, which descend the ladder.  At the end of the parsha, the angels of Eretz Yisrael, at Mahanayim, return to him.  In between, the personality of the galut Jew is cast.  Here’s the outstanding feature:  Ya’akov is transformed from ish tam into ish asakim.  At the beginning of the parsha, Ya’akov says all he needs is food to eat and a garment to wear.  As one commentator remarks, why does it say food to eat?  Isn’t all food for eating? The idea is that he should only need enough food for his immediate, daily needs, much like manna, and should not store it for a rainy day.  Food for eating, not for storage.  Ya’akov’s transformation into a materialistic man is the result of Lavan’s emblandishments.  Notice that after Yosef is born, Ya’akov realizes that he must immediately return to Eretz Yisrael.  He says to Lavan:  Send me away and I will go to my homeland.  Give me my wife and children and I will go. Two times he says elecha, I will go.  He means to go!  Ya’akov does not ask for anything else, he is still the ish tam, not requiring anything more than food to eat and a garment to wear.  At this point, if Lavan told Ya’akov to take his family and go, Ya’akov would have gone back to Eretz Yisrael immediately.  But then Lavan says, “Tell me what I owe you” and then Ya’akov is suddenly transformed into ish asakim, selling Lavan on his animal breeding venture.  From that point on, Ya’akov is changed, later complaining to Lavan how he tricked him and didn’t fairly compensate him for his many years of work.  But none of this would have happened if Lavan had simply sent Ya’akov back to Eretz Yisrael when Ya’akov asked to go!  I am reminded of the underlying theme in the writings of Ya’akov Moshe Harlap, one of Rav Kook’s outstanding students.  Harlap says that every problem a Jew faces is because of influences from the non-Jewish world!  Ya’akov may have kept all the mitzvot despite being in a non-Jewish environment but, nevertheless, he sacrificed his desire to return to Eretz Yisrael for the sake of increasing his flocks.  No longer did Ya’akov only need food to eat today.  He now needed food for a rainy day as well.

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