Don’t Make Yourself at Home….

September 20, 2016 at 2:13 AM , , ,

“….And he went down to Egypt and sojourned there with a small number of people ….” (Devarim 26:5)

וַיֵּרֶד מִצְרַיְמָה וַיָּגָר שָׁם בִּמְתֵי מְעָט – דברים כו, ה

And he went down to Egypt – forced by Divine decree. —Passover Hagaddah

If Yaakov’s descent to Egypt was by Divine instruction, why did Yaakov feel forced? Could it be that Yaakov, who was wholly devoted to G-d with all his being, was reluctant to obey this Divine decree and didn’t do so willfully?

The answer is that, of course, Yaakov descended to Egypt happily, knowing that he was fulfilling G-d’s desire. Moreover, G-d had promised him, “I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will surely bring you up from there as well (Bereishit 46:4)” – the descent was only temporary and the resultant heights that would be reached would be great. Nevertheless, Yaakov felt simultaneously “forced”, for the morally low and debased environment of Egypt would forever remain a source of discomfort for him.

By Divinely ordained fate, a Jew is destined to sometimes be in places and situations which seem far and devoid of holiness. The objective is to find means of elevating our surroundings, infusing them with G-dliness and revealing their G-dly purpose, and we do so happily – knowing that this is our Divine mission. Even so, we must never lose sight of the fact that this environment is a descent, a place where a Jew is essentially uncomfortable.

Don't Make Yourself at Home....

Like our forefather Yaakov, only by maintaining a sense of unease with the lowliness of our environment and never becoming acclimated to it, can we be certain that we will influence our surroundings, and not be influenced by them. The success of our Divine mission lies in maintaining the paradox of “forced – by Divine decree.”

-Likutei Sichos, vol. 4, pp. 1218-1220


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