Got Faith, Won’t Travel

December 22, 2019 at 2:50 AM , , ,

“…And Yaakov saw that there was grain being sold in Egypt. Yaakov said to his sons, “why should you purport [to be content]?” – Bereishis 42:1

וַיַּרְא יַעֲקֹב כִּי יֶשׁ שֶׁבֶר בְּמִצְרָיִם וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב לְבָנָיו לָמָּה תִּתְרָאוּ – בראשית מב, א

When hunger came upon the Land of Canaan, Yaakov encouraged his sons to travel to Egypt to buy grain. According to Rashi, Yaakov and his family still had food, but Yaakov said to his sons, “Why should you show yourselves before the sons of Yishmael and the sons of Eisav as though you are sated?”

Why does Rashi say that Yaakov was concerned about the resentment of the sons of Yishmael and Eisav, who lived some distance from Yaakov, and not of the envy of his immediate neighbors in the Land of Canaan? Implied is that Yaakov was not truly concerned about envy, (and rightfully so, as Yaakov and his family did not really have that much food themselves.) Rather, he was concerned about criticism and accusations that would come specifically from the children of Yishmael and Eisav.

Got Faith, Won’t Travel

The source of his concern was that despite their limited supply of food, his sons were entirely content, as though they had all the grain that they would ever need. They were confident that G-d would provide for their needs miraculously, without requiring them to relocate, or even to travel to Egypt to buy food.

Yaakov was concerned that such behavior might draw unwanted attention from the sons of Yishmael and Eisav. For had there not been other famines in the Land of Canaan, due to which Avraham and Yitzchak had indeed been forced to move—Avraham to Egypt, and Yitzchak to Gerar? “Do the sons of Yaakov think that they are more worthy than our common grandparents, the saintly Avraham and Yitzchak, that G-d will provide for them without requiring them to relocate?,” the sons of Yishmael and Eisav would ask.

In truth, there had been other factors that motivated Avraham and Yitzchak’s relocation during the famine (see Rashi on Bereishis 12:10). However, being as the children of Yishmael and Eisav might not be aware of those reasons, Yaakov told his sons not to appear as though they regard themselves as more worthy than Avraham and Yitzchak, and therefore to travel to Egypt to restock on provisions the natural way. If not for this concern, however, Yaakov too would agree that they could remain in Canaan and be confident that G-d would provide for them miraculously.

—Likutei Sichos, vol. 30, pp. 190-194


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