<I>Vayeshev</I>: Like Strangers in the Land of Israel

B'nei Yisrael were not ready to dwell permanently.

Aloh Naaleh,

Arutz 7
Our parsha begins with the words, "vayeshev Yaakov b'eretz m'gurei aviv b'eretz Canaan."

The commentaries raise several questions regarding the pasuk. Why was it necessary to inform us that Yaakov dwelt in Canaan, when we were already told in the previous parsha (35:27) that he came to Hevron to live with his father Yitzchak? Is there not a seeming
Why was it necessary to inform us that Yaakov dwelt in Canaan?
contradiction in the pasuk between "vayeshev" and "m'gurei aviv"?

Unfortunately, space does not permit me to recount the answers, but I believe that there is an underlying comment by chazal that is the basis for all of the replies.

Rabbi Yochanan states (Sanhedrin 106A), "Every place that we find the words 'vayeshev' it denotes pain and sorrow." As the Midrash Rabbah on this pasuk states, "Bikeish Yaakov Avinu leisheiv b'shalva, kafatz alav rugzo shel Yosef." Avraham and Yitzhak were gerim in Canaan . Avraham "ger v'toshav anochi imachem." (23:4) Yitzhak "gur ba'aretz hazot." (26:3) Yaakov wanted to establish permanent residence, which the word lashevet implies. As the Torah Temima states, "The Torah commands "leishev basukot," the sukkah has to be like our permanent dwelling.

HaKadosh Baruch Hu had other plans. B'nei Yisrael were not ready to dwell permanently in Eretz Yisrael. Therefore came the saga of Yosef and Galut Mitzraim. However, this does not mean that we should not dwell in Eretz Yisrael even as gerim.

Proof of this is that Yaakov did not leave Canaan in spite of the troubles he encountered. The mitzvah of yishuv Eretz Yisrael can only be accomplished if we first dwell in the land even as gerim.

This is the message of our parasha. With all the difficulties we have in Eretz Yisrael; with all of the doubts and the fears that make our existence at times untenable, in addition to the fact that it may, chas v'shalom, be taken away from us, or worse, that we will give it away, we still have the responsibility to fulfill the mitzvah of yishuv ha'aretz, even though we may feel like gerim in our own land.

Perhaps, if the Jews of the world will take upon themselves the responsibility to fulfill the mitzvah of yishuv ha'aretz, we may, even in our day, have the z'chut to witness the final redemption. Then we, the Jewish People, will become the "permanent dwellers of Eretz Yisrael."
Rabbi Binyamin Walfish writes from Jerusalem.

The foregoing commentary was distributed by the Aloh Naaleh organization.