To leave 'a place'

There will be time where we all need the courage to exit and leave our safe and comfortable zones to do the work that needs to be done.

Rabbi Moshe Kempinski , | updated: 12:38 AM

Moshe Kempinski
Moshe Kempinski

The act of "leaving" a place can, at times, be a frightening concept, but at other times is filled with anticipation and possibilities.

We see examples of both in the Torah portion called VaYeitzeh which means " and he went out".

The Torah portion begins with Jacob leaving one place and ends with him leaving another. Yet the two words used to describe each “leaving” are vastly different.

When Jacob is leaving the land of Canaan,he was fleeing from his house. He was escaping from a brother who was set to kill him. He was running from a father who may have lost some measure of faith and confidence in his son. He was leaving without knowing when he was to return. And he was leaving into a land of the unknown, and into a future filled with challenges and doubt.

The verse tells us " And Jacob left Beer Sheba, and he went ( VaYeitzeh) to Haran."( Genesis 28:10) In the midst of Jacob's running away from Esau he sees the vision of the ladder to the heavens in a dream. In this vision he is promised great things by G-d..

“And behold, I am with you, and I will guard you wherever you go, and I will restore you to this land, for I will not forsake you until I have done what I have spoken concerning you."(ibid :15).

Those words "I will guard you wherever you go" spoke directly to his heart.

Yet when he returns from the land of Laban at the end of the Torah portion we read; "So Jacob rose (vaYakam) , and he lifted up his sons and his wives upon the camels." (ibid 31:17) .

What can be learned from those two differing words, Vayeitze ( and he went out) and Vayakam( and he arose)?

When we read in the book of Deuteronomy, of G-d's instructions regarding the going out to war, the verse reads: "Ki Teitzei LaMilchamah - If you shall go out to wage war against your enemy." (Deuteronomy 21:10) The verse could have simply been, "If you shall wage war?"

The Torah wants us to remember that warfare is not harmonious with our inner essence. In order to go to war you must exit your oasis of spiritual and holy comfort. You must relinquish a lifestyle that is both safe and comfortable. Yet his must be done only with the purpose of achieving goals of spiritual and national importance.

We see the use of a derivative of the word VaYeitze again with Noah when G-d commands him the following;" 'Go forth( Tzeh) from the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee. ... be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.'(Genesis 8:16-17).

In the ark they were safe and they knew what each hour and each day demanded of them .Yet Hashem needed for them to walk back into the desolate remains of the world they once knew.

That is why we see it as well with Jacob’s leaving of the land of his forefathers. Jacob was destined to begin the creation of the Jewish people in the land of Haran. Yet that necessarily involved the spiritual pain of VaYeitze.

That is not the case when Jacob leaves Haran. When he leaves the land of Laban , he is escaping the quagmire of materialism, falsehood and idolatry. Yet leaving all that necessitated a higher degree of purpose.

In order to do this he must rise up (VaKam) . He must gather his spiritual strength and courage in order to be able to continue to fulfill his destiny in the land of his forefathers.

That word LAKUM is critical.

Naomi went along with her husband and two sons went to live in Moav to escape the hunger in the land of Israel. She then lost her husband and her two sons and and was left broken and discouraged. We then read the following

“Now she arose ( VaTAKAM) with her daughters-in-law and returned from the fields of Moab, for she had heard in the field of Moab that Hashem had remembered His people to give them bread....” (Ruth 1: 6)

Naomi begins a process that will affect the entire dramatic unfolding of redemption. All divine “unfoldings” begin with a determined step into destiny “Now she arose” (VaTakam). She got up. The first ingredient of teshuva, of repentance, is to get up!

The same thing occurred when Joshua became despondent after the defeat at the battle of Ai.“And Joshua rent his clothing and fell to the earth upon his face before the Ark of Hashem until the evening, “Joshua 7:6)

Hashem’s response is swift;

“And Hashem said to Joshua, Get up , kum); why do you fall upon your face?” (Joshua 7:6-10) Further in the text, G‑d explains “Arise (kum), sanctify the people, and say: Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow;” (ibid. 13)

The act of LAKUM is an act of readiness for higher purpose and meaning

There will be time where we will all need the courage to exit and leave ( LATZEIT) our safe and comfortable zones to do the work that needs to be done. Yet when that work is done there will be the time to stand straight ( LAKUM) and tall and walk into the place of destiny and purpose.

That is what the lesson of Jacob’s leaving and his returning. The principles of VaYeitzeh ( walking out of the unsure place) and VaYakam ( standing up and recovering the place of purpose.) These have clearly been the lessons in our rebirthed reality here in Israel.

These will also be the lessons that will be needed to be learned in other parts of the world as they begin to enter into that time of uncertainty and confusion.

LeRefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved