“Jacob departed from Be’er Sheva and went toward Haran….” (Genesis 28:10)
Our Father Jacob spent fourteen years at the Yeshiva of Ever (Megillah 17a) before leaving for Haran. A Jew needs great fortification before entering the world of the non-Jew.
I write a few days after the shootings in Pittsburgh. It is important for us to recognize the full gravity of the situation presenting itself in the entire world as well as the United States. As so often, my mind goes back to the prodigious commentary of The Malbim (Rabbi Meir Leibush ben Yechiel Michel Wisser, known as “The Malbim”), which I heard years ago from the late Amos Bunim and which stands at the beginning of my book, 2020 Vision.
This is what The Malbim wrote: “In the End of Days, after the Children of Israel have returned to their land, the children of Ishmael and the children of Esau will unite to attack Jerusalem. They will form a world coalition against the tiny nation of Israel.” (Malbim on Ezekiel 32:17)
Not just Jerusalem surrounded, but every Jew everywhere, the entire “tiny nation,” is surrounded. “All the nations …. encircle me, they also surround me ….” (Psalm 118)
King David is telling us in this Psalm what will happen in the End of Days. Perhaps “encircle me” and “surround me” refer to the phenomenon that will occur in many places and in many ways. In Ancient Egypt we were totally surrounded, spiritually and physically. There was no way out except by reaching upwards toward Hashem.
And this must be our lesson. There is no way out … except through the mercies of our Father in Heaven. Thus King David continues in the Psalm I just quoted: “B’Shaim Hashem ki amilam … in the Name of Hashem I cut them down.” The only way out is for the Children of Israel to return with all our hearts to our Father and King.
“Take words with you and return to Hashem. Say to Him, ‘Forgive every sin and accept goodness and let our lips substitute for bulls. Assyria cannot help us. We will not ride the horse, nor will we ever again call our handiwork our god. Only in You will the orphan find compassion.” (Hoshea 14:3-4; this week’s Haftarah)
My friends, there is nothing at all for us in the surrounding society. Our Father Jacob went to Charan to create a family and bring it back to the Land of Israel. “Jacob arose and lifted his children and his wives onto the camels. He led away all his livestock and all the wealth which he had amassed … to go to his father Isaac to the land of Canaan.” (Genesis 31:17-18)
It is time to return to our Father. We are nearing the day when the entire world will know that all its blessings emanate from Zion. Only then will we be secure. “When the wicked bloom like grass and all the doers of iniquity blossom, it is to destroy them till eternity. But You remain exalted forever, Hashem, for behold, Your enemies, Hashem, for behold, Your enemies shall perish. Dispersed shall be all doers of iniquity.” (Psalm 92) May we see it soon in our days!