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Home » Vayetze

Vayetze: Our Purpose

Submitted by on December 9, 2008 – 5:16 pmNo Comment | 2,891 views

Look A Kippah

When I was growing up in Boston, Massachusetts, few Jews wore their Kippot (head coverings) outdoors. Seeing a man wearing a Kippa on the street always generated excitement: my siblings and I would point in awe and exclaim, “Look, there is a Jew.” We felt an immediate kinship and belonging. We were no longer alone in our world; there were others who believed, behaved and dressed just like us.

These Jews never knew that they were noticed nor were they aware of the impact they had on a family of children, elated to find one of their own. They thought they knew what had brought them to that particular street at that particular moment, but little did they know that their purpose was far greater than what they had thought. They were sent to that space and time to inspire a family of young children.

Why Now. . . Why Here . . . Why Me?

We often think we understand why we came to a particular place, live in a particular city, or do a particular thing. Indeed, we live in this city because of our work and we work in our particular field because we enjoy it. We attended a particular restaurant because the food was good and it was a convenient location. This is all true. However there is a deeper question at hand. Why do we enjoy this particular field of work and why was it only available in this city. Why does this restaurant serve the food we like and why was it a convenient place for us to meet? What is our purpose in this place?

G-d orchestrates the events of our lives. He could have sent us to another location, vocation or career. But He chose this one. Why? For what purpose? This is the question we are all meant to ask.

G-d has a unique plan for each of us. If you could accomplish what I am able to, G-d would not have made me. If I could accomplish what you are able to G-d would not have made you. We are each uniquely suited to our specific purpose. Every moment of every day is devoted to the fulfillment of this purpose. We don’t usually know the role we play, but play it we always do.

The highly spiritual prophets knew the specifics of their unique purpose. They knew precisely why G-d sent them to a particular location at a particular time. The average Jew is not privy to this information, yet we all know that our “steps are directed by G-d.”

When we arrive at the mall, the airport or even home we must always ask ourselves what G-dly purpose this visit fulfills? If we see an opportunity for a Mitzvah we must seize it at once because this might have been the very purpose of our visit. Even if we cannot decipher the Divine purpose for our presence in a particular location we must accept in perfect faith that we are there to play a part in G-d’s overall plan. We might be completely oblivious to the purpose of our visit or the affect we have had on others, just like the Kippah sporting Jews of my youth our purpose - innerstreamwere oblivious to the ways in which they inspired my family. But there is no question that our presence in that location is an important part of the Divine Master Plan.

Jacob Flees Happily

We now understand why Jacob left his father’s house in such high spirits. At first blush this seems surprising. His life was in danger, he bid farewell to his parents not knowing if he would ever see them again. Furthermore, he was forced from his beloved books and study halls. He was headed to the home of his uncle, a man renowned for greed and deception. Most people would have walked with a heavy heart, but Jacob was joyful. (1)

Why was he so happy?

We might suggest that the very knowledge that circumstances conspired to force him away from home informed Jacob that he was poised to fulfill a new mission in life. Jacob surmised that he had completed his training and, with it, the first part of his purpose. He had been assigned a task and had successfully completed it; this, in itself, was delightful news. Moreover, he was now on his way to carry out the next phase of his unique purpose. He was about to move in with his immoral uncle, from which he inferred that it was his task to improve the spiritual and moral state of his uncle’s family. (2)

This was a challenging task, but Jacob was up to the challenge. Grateful for the opportunity and humbled to have been chosen, Jacob embarked with joy.

And so should we.

Footnotes

  1. At first Jacob was quite perturbed. It was only after G-d promised to bring Jacob home safely that his spirits lifted. However, the Chassidic masters understood this promise in a spiritual rather than physical sense. G-d promised that Jacob would return home successful in his mission. This understanding in further amplified by Rashi’s commentary to Genesis 28: 21.
  2. Jacob fulfilled his mission by establishing the first Jewish family in the corrupt environment of Laban’s household.

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