Shabbat Vayeytzey

Candles Friday 20th 4:15pm
Havdalah 21st 5:09pm

Yaakov has to run away from home because of Esav’s threat to kill him. But Rivkah knows that if she says that to her husband he might not believe her because of his bias towards to his first born. So she uses the argument that to find a wife for Yaakov, he, like his father before him has to go back to Ur to the family they left behind. The psychology of Rivkah’s interaction with her husband is fascinating. But I am interested here in the idea of the constant returning, in each generation, to the family’s origins and birthplace. Surely if God had commanded Avraham to leave and that the new world would be better, why this need to go back all the time?

We know that back in Ur people were not very nice and were still pagans. Lavan typifies the negative. On the other hand, Rivkah and then Leah and Rachel represent the good. And conversely in the “Promised Land” that Avraham moved to, with its Canaanites, cities of Sodom and Amorah, most of the locals are pretty bad too.

In the constant procession of life, no matter where we go, we are constantly being drawn back to our origins and our earlier loyalties no mater whether in our new situations things are good or not. The challenge we all face is to try to be better human beings wherever we are and whatever the environment. We have to deal with private, personal challenges and with social political ones.

We draw on the past and use it to avoid mistakes and to help us learn. But our origins, however we have left them behind, and regardless of how negative they might have been, are still part of us. The Torah is telling us to recognize and accept our past, and not try to ignore it.