Follow The Leader!
“And Yaakov departed from Be’ersheva and went towards Charan” (Bereishis 28:10)
Every morning we say the bracha, “hameichin mitz’adei gaver “. Hashem prepares and guides the steps that we take; the places that we go. I can recount numerous times and many different situations where I saw Hashem guiding my steps. Many times, I “coincidentally” met the very person that I needed to speak to at a location that neither of us expected to be at. Or the times that Hashem “delayed” me for a half hour or so, making me late enough to just miss a car accident that had occurred a half an hour earlier, in the place that I would have been. I am sure that we can all think of our own personal instances where we have seen the “hand” of Hashem guide our actions.
A prominent rav was on a TWA flight to Eretz Yisroel with a stopover in Athens, Greece where he would be boarding a connecting flight. It was two days before Rosh Hashana and the rav was exhausted. He fell into a deep sleep. When the plane landed in Athens, he was still sleeping, and the stewardess forgot to wake him up. The plane took off a few hours later. When the rav awoke, he found out that he was going to Bangkok, Thailand and would not make it to Eretz Yisroel for Rosh Hashana. With only hours before the start of Rosh Hashana, the rav found out about a nearby shul. Most of the congregants were in Thailand on business and spoke English. The president of the shul invited the rav to stay in his home. Over the course of Yom Tov, the rav gave a sermon in the shul and spoke at length to the two college-aged sons of his host. When Yom Tov ended, one of the president’s sons decided to interrupt his studies at Oxford University in England to go to Yeshiva Ohr Somayach in Israel, a yeshiva with a program for students with little Jewish background. The plan was to go for one semester. The youngster stayed in yeshiva for 3 years, becoming a true ben Torah. He eventually influenced his brother to join him. Years later the rav reflected on what had happened. “I could not be with my family for Yom Tov. Yet, because of my unscheduled trip, a chain of events was put into motion that led me to returning two Jews to authentic Judaism”. (based on a story from the book The Maggid Speaks by Rabbi Paysach Krohn)
Esav was enraged that Yaakov received the brachos from Yitzchak. Esav had murder on his mind. He said in his heart, ”When my father dies, I will kill my brother Yaakov!” (Bereishis 27:41). Rashi says that Hashem told Rivka what was in Esav’s heart. Fearful for Yaakov’s life, she told him to run away to her brother Lavan’s house. She said that when Esav’s wrath would calm down, she would send Yaakov a message to return. Rivka felt it would be more appropriate for Yitzchak to send Yaakov away. She hinted to Yitzchak that Yaakov needed a wife, and she was concerned about the suitability of the local women. Yitzchak told Yaakov to go to Lavan’s house to find a wife.
Yaakov was running away to save his life. He was going to his uncle Lavan’s house, the same uncle who had tried to poison Avraham’s servant Eliezer. Rav Mattisyahu Salomon (as quoted in Rabbi Frand on the Parsha 3) asked why the Torah uses the word “Vayetze” , indicating that Yaakov calmly left his home, as opposed to using the word “Vayivrach”, indicating that Yaakov had fled for his life. The first word of the Haftaroh, which is supposed to be parallel to the first pasuk of the parsha, actually uses the word “Vayivrach”.
Rav Mattisyahu Salomon learns a beautiful lesson from this. Truthfully, Yaakov was running away to save his life. However, he did not view it that way. Yaakov did not feel any anxiety. He realized that this was all part of Hashem’s “Master Plan” for him. Therefore, Yaakov was able to leave calmly.
Rabbi Frand said that Yaakov Avinu teaches us a very important lesson: In every journey that we take, Hashem is leading the way. Hashem has a purpose in each challenge that we experience. The challenges allow us to accomplish our overall mission in life.
This realization, that Hashem is guiding our lives for a specific purpose,
should give us the encouragement and strength we need to approach our challenges calmly and confidently.