Vayatze: Gd’s Promse to Stick it Out with Us

In Chapter 28, line 15 Gd says to Jacob: Behold I am with you, I will watch you where all you go and will return you to the land. ” It sounds like Gd is talking directly to Jacob and promising him and comforting him.

The holy Ishbitzer (which now has a great English translation by Rabbi Hershey Worsh which is very clear and worth purchasing) expands and makes the promise eternal. The Ishbitzer says interprets “return you ” to “restore you.” Restore in the sense of loss like returning a lost object. He famously quotes the Talmud in Gitten which seems to be the cornerstone of his philosophy: One must stumble (fail) in the Torah to truly uphold and it and understand. (Gitten page 43a). Restoration or return can only happen if one is lost or an object is lost.

The Ishbitzer is saying something very profound. To love something, to appreciate something one must sometimes exist without it.. to long for it… to search for it. Is the Ishbitzer saying we should intentionally violate a precept in order to return to it. I doubt that. But it seems the Isbitzer understands human nature- that sometimes we lose faith or the strength to uphold the Torah. That moment presents an opportunity for restoration and return. The fall or stumbling leads to strenghtening and upholding.

The promise to Jacob that he will return him to his land after the hiatus with Lavan is therefore analogous to our journey where sometimes, we lose direction. It is a promise that if we use our failures as springboards to repent and return, Gd will be with us- even in our failures.

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