Thursday, November 15, 2007

VaYeitzei (VaYeileich)

Instead of simply stating one or the other, we are told that Yaakov both left Be'er Sheva and that he went towards Charan. The Beis HaLeivi points out that sometimes you leave a place to get away from there, other times you have to go somewhere and the only way to get there is by leaving the place you're in. Here, Ya'akov needed both to leave and to go. He was fulfilling the mitzva of kibud av va'eim, with each of these actions.

A friend of mine once chastised me for always thinking that a practical, moral lesson must be gleaned from Divrei Torah. Well, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it. So what is the lesson of this observation about VaYeitzei and VaYeileich?

In life you often win while losing at the same time. It's better if you can win and win. But is that possible? Yaakov won doubly by the effects of his actions and sometimes we can too.

The mishna in Avot says "Hevei goleh limkom Torah" - "Exile yourself to a place of Torah". There are two halves here. There's Hevei goleh, and there's Limkom Torah. Getting away from bad influences is one half while going to a positive place is the other required piece if we seek spiritual success. For example, the practice of going to Israel to learn is for some a fulfilment of getting away from bad and immersing in good, of "Hevei goleh limkom Torah".

On a broader scale there is the concept of "sur meirah va'asei tov", "keep away from bad and do good" (as put by David HaMelech). As much as possible in all we do we should be separating our selves from the negative roadblocks in life and soaking in the positive influences hiding everywhere.

May G-d bless us with success in emulating Yaakov our father and effectively departing and going at the same time.

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