Don’t Make Yourself at Home

November 19, 2018 at 3:16 AM , , ,
“….I have sojourned with Lavan…. and I have acquired oxen and donkeys, flocks, manservants and maidservants….” – Bereishot 32:5-6

״….עם לבן גרתי… ויהי לי שור וחמור צאן ועבד ושפחה…״ – בראשית לב, ה-ו

גרתי… has the numerical value of 613. That is to say: I lived with the wicked Lavan, but I kept the 613 commandments, and I did not learn from his evil deeds. —Rashi

Don't Make Yourself at HomeThe literal translation of the word גַּרְתִּי is “I sojourned”, meaning, “I lived there as a foreigner” (from the root-word גֵר.) Yaakov emphasized that he was always a stranger in the house of Lavan, and never became a permanent resident.

The word גַּרְתִּי according to its literal explanation, “I sojourned,” is truly the secret behind this word’s other interpretation – based on its numerical value – 613: “I lived with the wicked Lavan, but I kept the 613 commandments.”

The twenty years of Lavan’s company and the material wealth that it had brought Yaakov – “oxen and donkeys, flocks, manservants, and maidservants” – had all remained foreign to him; it never became his natural home.

With the resolve that his material affairs would forever remain “foreign” to him, Yaakov successfully maintained the other meaning of גַּרְתִּי” “גַּרְתִּי has the numerical value of 613.” This attitude ensured that Yaakov never allowed his involvement with the material world to disturb his worship of G-d, and he would be able to proudly say, “I kept the 613 commandments.”

—Likutei Sichos vol. 1, pp. 68-69


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