Wednesday, November 06, 2013

On VaYeitzei

Tomorrow morning at minyan I hope to speak about the double use of vayeitei and vayeileich:

An unusual phraseology is employed in the opening line of Parshat VaYeitzei. 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 Maggid of Dubno, as well as the Beis HaLeivi, points out that sometimes in life you leave a place because you have to get away from there, while other times the key is that you have to go somewhere and the only way to get there is by leaving the place you're in. Here, Ya'akov needed to do both, leave and go. In fact, he was fulfilling a mitzvah, 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 explanations of pesukim. Well, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it. So what is the lesson of this observation about VaYeitei and VaYeileich?

Another friend said that in life you always win while losing at the same time. The thing is that it's better if you can win and win. But is that possible? Here, Yaakov won doubly by the effects of his actions, and sometimes we can too.

The mishnah 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 positive ones is the other required piece if we seek spiritual success. For example, the practice of going to Israel to learn is a fulfilment of getting away from the bad and immersing in the 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 life in all we do we should be separating our selves from the negative roadblocks and soaking in the positive influences hiding everywhere.

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


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