Vayeitzei: ‘Going Out’ On Shlichus Is All About ‘Coming Home’ To Geula



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    Vayeitzei: ‘Going Out’ On Shlichus Is All About ‘Coming Home’ To Geula

    From the desk of Rabbi Nissim Lagziel, Mashpia in Oholei Torah: At the beginning of the parsha, Vayeitzei, we read of Yaakov leaving for Charan and about the G-dly revelation he experienced on the way. G-d promises him (28:15), “Behold, I will be with you and will protect you wherever you go, and return you to this land.” A clear promise that everything will be all right and Yaakov would return in peace. Afterward, Yaakov makes a vow and says, “If G-d will be with me and protect me on this path • Full Article

    BEGIN WITH A GRIN

    In one of the toughest battles of the war in Ukraine, when the Russian army was routed, the Russian general told his soldiers, “Men, turn around and march forward!”

    The confused soldiers thought this was some sort of mistake.

    “General, what do you mean? We’re retreating?!”

    Said the general, “The Russian army never retreats; we are simply advancing back!”

    GOING HOME ALREADY?

    At the beginning of the parsha, Vayeitzei, we read of Yaakov leaving for Charan and about the G-dly revelation he experienced on the way. G-d promises him (28:15), “Behold, I will be with you and will protect you wherever you go, and return you to this land.” A clear promise that everything will be all right and Yaakov would return in peace. Afterward, Yaakov makes a vow and says, “If G-d will be with me and protect me on this path that I am going on… and I return in peace to my father’s house.”

    Every Lubavitcher in our generation who reads these verses is astounded. What’s going on here? Why did Yaakov ask again to return home? He just got a special shlichus from G-d, to spread G-dliness in the lowest spiritual place, Charan, and he already wants to be done with it?

    Picture the Rebbe appointing you as his shliach of a country, a spiritual desert where you can accomplish great things, something like Russia in the nineties after the Soviet Union and communist bloc broke up. On the one hand, a tremendous thirst for Judaism. On the other hand, spiritual devastation due to seventy years of religious persecution. Would the first thing you asked for from the Rebbe be a ticket home? Is that what Rabbi Berel Lazar asked for before going on shlichus? Is that what Rabbi Raskin a’h asked for before going to Morocco? Is that what Rabbi Baumgarten asked for before going to Argentina? Then why did Yaakov do so?

    The question is even greater because even before Yaakov asked, G-d Himself already promised him to return him to this land! Why are we fleeing the battlefront? Why are we trying to evade responsibility? What happened to the saying, “There (in the place of shlichus) will be his burial place”?

    In an inspiring sicha, the Rebbe explains that the opposite is correct! What Hashem says about his returning home and Yaakov’s request that everything go well teach us that returning home is not fleeing the battlefield but part of the shlichus! The ultimate divine intent in Yaakov’s shlichus was not to remain in Charan, even if he would transform Charan into a thriving place of Torah, even if Charan would turn into the Bnei Brak of the ancient world, “a great city of sages and scribes,” full of yeshivos and kollelim, bustling with Jewish and Chassidic life, the true goal of shlichus is to return home! To return to the home of our Father in heaven with the true and complete Geula.

    There are those who fully invested in shlichus, they accomplish and are successful. They draw themselves and others to Torah study and to doing mitzvos, and they see dizzying success, boruch Hashem, in whatever they do. They go to a city and transform it, they change its character, educate the people, draw the youth close, etc. They are filled with the feeling of satisfaction and feel very good with the place we are in. They think: It’s good for me here. I like it here on shlichus. Yaakov teaches us that the main part of shlichus is … completing the shlichus!

    Until we return home, until we get back to the Holy Land with the Geula, the shlichus is incomplete!

    HOMEWARD BOUND

    Yaakov is not fleeing and not evading and avoiding. It’s just the opposite. He is the one who constantly, throughout the years, remains very focused on the true goal of all that is going on around him. He teaches us not to be satisfied with what we see as “fulfilling the shlichus,” satisfied with hafatza, satisfied with the Chabad Houses we built, satisfied with the mekuravim we have, satisfied with the projects we did. There is no being satisfied and no relaxing until we achieve the Geula.

    It says, “the end is wedged in the beginning and the beginning in the end.” This is true with the parshiyos in the Torah too. There is a special connection between the beginning and end of each parsha. As always, this connection is expressed in the name of the parsha which tells us about the contents.

    In parshas Vayeitzei though, it seems to be the other way round. The end of the parsha not only doesn’t complete the beginning but contradicts it! The beginning of the parsha talks about Yaakov leaving for Charan. The end of the parsha talks about his return from Charan to Eretz Yisrael, the opposite direction. Why? Why does the Torah tell us about Yaakov’s return in the parsha named “Vayeitzei?” Couldn’t it wait until the next parsha?

    But this conveys a deep Chassidic point. Man’s first impression is that there is no direct connection between what he does and the Geula. He does mitzvos and… ultimately, the Geula comes. He does not see a direct connection between the two. Chassidus explains that our actions today are so connected to the Geula that they are not merely the means to bring the Geula but are essentially part of the Geula.

    Our learning Torah and doing mitzvos draws down the G-dly revelation, not only in the future but now too. When a Jew learns Torah, Chassidus in particular, he is not merely preparing for the Geula. This is part of the Geula. He now feels and understands (at least a bit) of the G-dly knowledge which will be his portion in the time of Geula. Therefore, every single thing we do is another step taken on the way home.

    The Torah wants to hint this to us in the connection of the beginning of Vayeitzei and the end. Don’t think that Yaakov went on shlichus to Charan and then, many years later, with Hashem’s help, he will receive a bonus prize and return to Eretz Yisrael. The truth is that the moment he went on shlichus, from the very first act, Yaakov was returning home. From the beginning of Vayeitzei “Yaakov went on his way” to his father’s house, in Eretz Yisrael! Because every mitzva and action now is already part of the Geula, in that every thought, word and action draws down the G-dly revelation of the Infinite Light. From the beginning of Vayeitzei, from Yaakov’s first going to Charan, he was actually headed toward… his father’s house, with the true and complete Geula.

    We will end with a story about how our shlichus today is the absolute opposite of retreating from the front. The former Israeli Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, related:

    Rabbi Nechemiah Wilhelm, shliach in Thailand, asked me to come to the island to speak to their large group of mekuravim about my relationship with the Rebbe and Chabad. I agreed. When I boarded the plane, I discovered, to my surprise, that the passenger sitting next to me was a Vizhnitzer Chassid, which is not common on flights to the Far East. We began to talk and I mentioned that I was going to Thailand to speak at the Chabad House.

    Hearing this, the Vizhnitzer Chassid began spewing a whole string of the usual insults about the Chabad craziness regarding ‘Melech HaMoshiach,’ and even ‘chai v’kayam.’ It reached the point of denigrating the honor of the Rebbe and I decided I had to do something.

    I asked him, “Tell me, what would you do if the Vizhnitzer Rebbe would tell you to go on shlichus to Thailand for five years?”

    “I would tell him that I would follow him there,” said the Chassid without batting an eye.

    I said, “You have a live Rebbe and he tells you explicitly that he wants you in Thailand and only for five years and you refuse… while they, the Lubavitchers, most of them are young and did not see and hear the Rebbe. The Rebbe is definitely not asking them directly to go on shlichus, and yet they are ready go to, anywhere, and not just for five years but for life!

    “So tell me, who has a living Rebbe, you or them?”

    Good Shabbos!

    46

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