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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Vayigash

Parshat Vayigash

Two Types

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Based on Parashat Vayigash, one might conclude that there are two Ya’akov Avinu’s. The first Ya’akov, when given the chance to see his long-lost son in Egypt, goes off with great enthusiasm and zeal. The second Ya’akov, while on the way to see Yosef, stops in Be’er Sheva, and only continues on his journey after God says to him: "Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt" (Bereishit 46:3). But the reality is that there is only one Ya’akov, whose enthusiasm about going to Egypt changes from high to hesitant.

Why so? Ya’akov’s hesitation begins in Be’er Sheva. There, many years earlier, Ya’akov’s parents had ordered him to leave the country for two important reasons - to save his life and to find a wife. Now Ya’akov once again wants to leave the country, but this time for the purely personal desire to see his lost son. Is this trip justified? Ya’akov interrupts his journey until he receives confirmation that God approves of his actions.

There are two types of Jews who do not yet live in the land of Israel. Some, like the youthful Ya’akov, have issues that clearly justify their living outside of the land. Others, like Ya’akov in his old age, live in the Diaspora because of a personal preference. Ya’akov teaches us to distinguish between the two reasons, and, in the latter case, to engage in self-reflection in order to determine whether the personal gain truly justifies the spiritual loss of not living in the land promised by God to our forefathers.

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This is a weekly column contributed by Aloh Naaleh an organization devoted to motivating Jews to make Aliya.
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Rabbi Avraham Norin
Currently teaching in a day school in the U.S. and serving as an "Aloh Naaleh" representative.
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