11/07/2013

Shabbat Vayeytzey

Candles, Friday 8th @ 4:24pm
Havdalah, Saturday 9th @ 5:20pm

Yaakov leaves his parents’ home and travels east back to Rivkah’s family. The last person to make that journey was Eliezer who went to find a wife for Yitzhak. But this time Yaakov knows he has to stay away because Esav wants to kill him and it will be many years before he returns. Avraham had made that journey but Yitzchak never had to move very far and he had a much easier life. Even so he too had his conflicts with local lords. All three men loved their wives and yet both had to deal with women who suffered because they could not bear children. We tend to think that Yitzhak had it easiest but perhaps the trauma he suffered when he was nearly sacrificed clouded everything good that happened.

Sometimes our difficulties are of our own making. Sometimes they are the result of external circumstances. It’s strange that the Torah keeps on pointing put to us how challenging life was for those people closest God. But the fact is that it is the struggle to overcome challenges that makes us who we are. People who have it too easy rarely achieve great things.

Whenever we think we have it good, you can bet something will bring us back to earth. But it’s the way we overcome the difficulties that matters. That is why Yaakov, the one who struggled most, gave his name to us as a people, Yisrael, “he who struggles with God and man.” Perhaps that’s why anti-Semitism never goes away. It forces us to try harder.