Vayetze: Chapter 15

"And Jacob went out of Beer-Sheva," part two


Rabbi Aba explains the verse by citing another: "Happy are they who maintain justice and do Righteousness at all times." Those who study Torah and follow God's ways are freed from ruin - that is, "the power of death." Those who are unrighteous, on the other hand, are abandoned by the Shechinah and become vulnerable to the Evil Inclination, the temptation to do harm. This temptation is a powerful force in the world. One verse explains the other, Rabbi Elazar tells Rabbi Aba -- Jacob's departure fromm the land of Israel symbolizes departure from a holy way of life.


Jacob's departure from the Land of Israel is a metaphor for a man's departure from a pure and positive existence. Throughout life, we are lured by the material world, where short-lived achievements are based on egocentric drives and ambitions. Spiritual achievements-which are eternal-come about through the struggle to remain on the path of spiritual development. Here, we arouse the divine presence of the Shechinah, which protects us from seductions of the external world and the compelling impulses ignited by our Evil Inclination.