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Home » Vayetze

Vayetze: Are you Content?

Submitted by on November 9, 2010 – 8:35 pmNo Comment | 2,756 views

A Reason to live

Are you content with life? You make a living, enjoy a circle of close-knit friends and are loved by family; does this suffice to contend?

Just like you, Jacob, our patriarch, had achieved many of his goals. He had purchased his brother’s birthright, secured his father’s blessing, married the love of his life and had twelve lovely children; eleven wise and strapping young lads one sophisticated and beautiful daughter.

He had made a name for himself in his uncle Laban’s home as a respected and faithful shepherd. He was a successful steward of his uncle’s business and was admired throughout the region as a capable and resourceful man.

But was he content?

The short answer is no; he was not. After his eleventh son was born he approached his uncle and requested permission to depart. “Send me,” said Jacob, “and I shall return to my place and my home… Give me my wives and children and I shall go.”

Are you lacking for anything, Laban wanted to know? Yes was Jacob’s reply. I have worked for you all this time and was instrumental in your burgeoning success for G-d has blessed you on my account and now when will I do something for my own household? (1)

I have built a family here, but I cannot put down roots here, was Jacob’s reply. Any success here cannot be my own for this is not my home. Allow me to go – I want to return home. It is time for me to worry about my own family; I need to build a future for me and for them.

Diaspora Values are not Our Own

A Jew can build a family and prosper for several generations in the Diaspora, but can never mistake it for home. Jews lived in Poland for many centuries, but in the end discovered that Cracow is not Jerusalem. Jews experienced a Golden Era in Spain, but in the end discovered that Spain cannot replace does israel belong to the jews - innerstreamYerushalayim as the Ir Zahav, city of gold. The list continues. As comfortable as we are in our Diaspora countries, it is not our home; it cannot be our home. Diaspora success is not our success because this is not the kind of success that makes a Jew thrive.

Success for the Jew is not only about a large home and nice car. It is not about the corner suite or the expensive vacation. There is nothing wrong with these goals, but they do not capture the grandeur of the Jewish dream. The Jew dreams of infusing these successes with holiness; Transforming the grand home into a place of mitzvah and Torah study, employing the large car for purposes of goodness and kindness and dedicating a portion of our earnings to the service of G-d – that is the Jewish dream.

Jacob did not care for the wealth he had garnered in Laban’s home; such wealth was sufficient for Laban, but Jacob needed more. Jacob dreamed of raising a family devoted to Torah. Of raising children who were passionate about Judaism and, who believed in G-d with perfect faith. Jacob yearned for a household that operates according to the norms of morality and the dictates of Torah.

Jacob was surely able to achieve a modicum of such success even in Laban’s home, but he knew that ultimately one can only be completely immersed in and surrounded by the sights, smells and tastes of Judaism in Israel. He wanted to return. He yearned for the home of his father; for the Holy Land.


We too aim for these goals in our exile, but ultimately these goals are best achieved in Israel. Several million of our people live in Israel already, but the entire Jewish nation will live there when Moshiach will bring us home; when the exiles will be gathered in, when the Temple will be rebuilt and when the presence of G-d will be manifest in a physical sense.

When Jacob spoke to Laban about his return to Israel he was talking about his family, but he was also thinking about the eventual return of his children – our return – to Israel with the coming of Moshaich.

G-d’s Own Home

Our sages taught us that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob respectively prayed for the first, second and third temples. The temples that Abraham and Isaac prayed for were eventually destroyed, but the third temple, the one for which Jacob prayed, that one will last forever. Indeed, Abraham called it G-d’s mountain, Isaac, G-d’s field and Jacob coined the phrase, G-d’s home. A home is permanent. (2)

The difference between the first two and the third temple is that the first two were built by human hand, but the third will, according to tradition, be built by G-d and G-d builds for posterity.

Jacob alluded to this with his words, “when will I do for my household?” The Midrash teaches that Jacob told Laban the following. While I am busy working for you, my children are supporting my household. The time has come for me to do build my own home.

The chassidic masters explained that when Jacob spoke to Laban he would formulate comments that appeared to address Laban, but were in truth a dialog with G-d. (3) This comment was no exception. While Jacob appeared to answer Laban’s question, he was really praying to G-d for Moshiach.

Jacob was prompting G-d. Up until the third temple, the one for which I pray, Jacob said to G-d, my children built your homes. The time has come for you to say, “When will I build my home?” The time has come for G-d to declare I will build this temple and this one will last forever.

When we remember that the Diaspora is not our true home, when we remember that Diaspora values are not our values and Diaspora goals are not our goals we prompt G-d to bring about change. May G-d respond and send the Moshiach; may He return us to Israel and rebuild the Temple speedily in our days. Amen. (4)


  1. Genesis 30 25: 30
  2. Babylonian Talmud, Psachim: 88a.
  3. Kedushas Levi – Genesis 31: 27.
  4. This essay is based on Divrei Yisrael Genesis 30: 30.

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