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Parshas Vayetze

Coming or Going

"And Yaakov departed from Beer- Sheva and went to Charan" (Bereishis 28:10).

Rashi asks why does the passuk mention that Yaakov left Beer-Sheva? It is to teach us that a tzaddik's departure from a city leaves a void. For a tzaddik is the glory, light and honour of a city. When he departs, the city's glory departs with him.

Rashi is bothered by why the Torah tells us from where Yaakov left. The focus of the Parsha is Yaakov's journey and his stay in Charan. It is irrelevant that he left Beer- Sheva. Moreover since we know that Yaakov was in Beer-Sheva, it is obvious that this is where he departed from. Therefore, Rashi explains that his departure was significant. As a tzaddik, Yaakov was the glory of Beer-Sheva and his departure created a void that was felt by all its inhabitants.

Rav Yaakov Kaminetzy zt"l, offers another approach to this question. If Yaakov's main purpose was to go to Charan, then it would be redundant to say from where he left. This, however, was not Yaakov Avinu's main goal. Yaakov had to escape from Beer-Sheva because he feared that Esav would kill him. Therefore the Torah tells us that he left Beer-Sheva. He was not going, he was leaving. Once he was leaving home, he needed a destination, so the passuk also mentions that he went to Charan. This was also significant for he went to Charan to marry and start his family.

Reb Yaakov's answer is obvious and simple. However it contains an important lesson. When one travels from point A to point B, no matter what one's intention is, he is doing the same act of travelling. Nevertheless his intention determines if h e is leaving or if he is going. The same is true with many of our daily activities. We need to eat, sleep, earn a living and care for our families. Regardless of what our intentions are we will perform these tasks. However, we have the ability to elevate these actions from the mundane to the spiritual. If we eat and sleep so that we will be healthy, so that we can learn and fulfil mitzvos, our eating and sleeping become a mitzva as well. And if we care for our families because that is the will of Hashem and if we work so that we may give tzedaka and support Torah scholars, this becomes a holy deed. "B'chol derachecha dei'eiu, know Hashem in all your ways" (Mishlei 3:6).

More importantly we need to examine our deeds to know if we are coming or going. Before one goes on a trip, one makes sure he has the right directions and just to be sure, one consults a map as well. Even after leaving one must be certain that he does not take a wrong turn. We are all on a journey in this world, our destination, the Afterlife. We must learn Torah and works of Mussar to ensure that we are heading in the right direction. We must also perform a self-examination to see that we do not lose sight of our goals. Are we coming or going?

The Messilas Yesharim writes that this introspection consist of two parts. One, we must examine that we are fulfilling our obligations, and two, even after ascertaining that our deeds are in accord with the Torah, we must see where we can improve and perfect our ways. We need to examine if our intentions are pure. Do we perform mitzvos and acts of chessed l'sheim Shamayim for the sake of Hashem or are we seeking our own honour. It is easy to become complacent. The only way to make progress in our journey is to constantly seek to grow and perfect ourselves.

R' Yehoshua ben Levi taught that whoever evaluates his deeds to see if he is on the right path, will merit to see Hashem's salvation (Moed Kattan 5a). Let us heed his advice so that we may witness when Moshiach comes, and we may go up to Eretz Yisrael.

Please daven and learn for Chizkiyahu ben Devorah Mindel for a refua sheleima.

Daf Hashavua Kollel Beth HaTalmud Copyright (c) 2002 by Rabbi Yosef Levinson

Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper, provided that this notice is included intact.

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