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Wednesday
Dec072016

HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO STOP YEARNING?!

Translated by Boruch Merkur

The entire time Yaakov was in exile, he knew that it was not his place, per se, and he proceeded without any interruption, making his way to his true place. Thus, the verse states, “haloch halachta,” using a repetitive expression, indicating that Yaakov did not view his traveling as a one-way trip out of Charan, focusing only on his redemption from Lavan, but as a continual journey, a non-stop round-trip, serving G-d even while in exile [haloch] as a preparation for redemption [halachta].

EMERGING FROM CHARAN WITH INTEGRITY INTACT

The departure of Yaakov from Be’er Sheva and his descent into Charan (“[the place that] arouses the anger of G-d”), the home of Lavan HaArami, alludes to the general concept of decent into exile. In the same sense, the redemption and ascent of Yaakov from Charan, upon his return to Eretz Yisroel – the Land of Israel, “the land of his father’s sojourning” – alludes to rising up from exile in the true and complete redemption.

From this it is understood that all the details of this week’s Torah portion connected with Yaakov’s residing with Lavan and his journey from there provide a lesson about the exile and redemption in our time.

The descent of Yaakov into the exile of Charan, in order to stay with Lavan HaArami, was indeed a dramatic decline, to the point that it says in the Hagada that Lavan HaArami was worse than Pharaoh, King of Egypt, “For Pharaoh only decreed against the males, whereas Lavan sought to uproot the entirety [of the Jewish people].”

However, Yaakov’s descent was for the sake of a subsequent ascent, as related in the Torah portion, VaYeitzei. That is, not only was Yaakov not influenced from being there, in Charan – on the contrary; he emerged from their fully intact, “whole,” in the ultimate state of integrity, to the extent that it says, “the man [Yaakov] increased to the extreme.” In fact, he even managed to have an influence over the exile itself and over Lavan HaArami, bringing about their refinement. This concept is elucidated in Toras Chaim (of the Mitteler Rebbe, whose redemption we are presently celebrating), where it interprets the verse, “And Lavan went and returned to his place” – Yaakov brought Lavan (from where he had been, a very lowly state, inferior to even Pharaoh) back to his [lofty spiritual] source and root, the level of Loven HaElyon, Supernal Whiteness.

Thus, “And Yaakov went on his way,” rising up from exile en route to Eretz Yisroel, “the land of his father’s sojourning,” “and he was met by angels of the L-rd.” This journey represents the unification of Eretz Yisroel and the Diaspora, the very purpose of descent into exile.

LONGING TO RETURN TO HIS “FATHER’S HOUSE”

The above sheds light on the story in the Torah portion, VaYeitzei, as follows. Still, while he was in exile, with Lavan HaArami, Yaakov was in the state of, “you have gone, gone away (haloch halachta), for you longed, longed (nichsof nichsafta) for your father’s house,” words that Lavan spoke to Yaakov, indicated that Lavan himself detected where Yaakov’s heart had been. Namely, longing to return to his “father’s house.”

The entire time Yaakov was in exile, he knew that it was not his place, per se, and he proceeded without any interruption, making his way to his true place. Thus, the verse states, “haloch halachta,” using a repetitive expression, indicating that Yaakov did not view his traveling as a one-way trip [out of Charan, focusing only on his redemption from Lavan], but as a continual journey [a non-stop round-trip, if you will], serving G-d even while in exile [haloch] as a preparation for redemption [halachta]. Yaakov’s service in exile was itself a part of his journey to his true place, “the land of his father’s sojourning.”

And even before he arrived at “the land of his father’s sojourning,” he desired and yearned for it, “nichsof,” not just once – thereby fulfilling his obligation, as it were – but the entire time the redemption had not arrived, “nichsof nichsafta”!

JUST GOING FORWARD TO THE REDEMPTION!

This provides us with a lesson regarding the present exile and redemption, a lesson that is in line with the teaching of the Alter Rebbe that one must live with the times, with the weekly Torah portion, and in our case, Parshas VaYeitzei:

To be sure, the entire descent into exile, the doubled and redoubled darkness of exile, is for the sake of a subsequent ascent, in order to achieve the greater height of the true and complete redemption.

The entire time that we are in exile we must constantly be traveling, “haloch halachta,” to the redemption, not being put off by anything nor reckoning with any other consideration. We are not even threatened by [such a formidable opponent as] Lavan HaArami, who boasts an impressive pedigree – son of B’suel, son of Nachor, son of Terach, etc. We do not reckon with him or his arguments at all; we just going forward to the redemption!

All the while we remain in exile, our stance must be “nichsof nichsafta,” yearning for and desiring the redemption, utterly preoccupied with the thought: when will we finally merit the redemption?! And even after feeling this longing once, even to the point of soul expiration – if Moshiach still has not come, one mustn’t stop yearning. Rather, “nichsof nichsafta,” he continues to desire and yearn [as suggested by the repetitious expression]. As long as Moshiach has still not come, how is it possible to stop yearning?!

(From the address of Shabbos Parshas VaYeitzei, 10 Kislev 5746, bilti muga)

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