A Final Lesson from Yaacob
In his final chapter, Yaacob Avinou gives us all a final lesson that is still very alive and relevant to our internet-connected, wireless, high-tech world. Yaacob, through all his endeavors, teaches us about how to live in exile of Israel, in galout.
After twenty years living with Laban, Yaacob returned to Israel and lost his beloved son, Yosef. The ensuing years were of terrible torturing, living with the knowledge that Yosef was killed. Miraculously, Yosef is alive and with Hashem's help, is the leader of Egypt.
Due to a difficult famine, Yaacob was forced to leave Israel and exile to Egypt. We learned in last week's parasha that Yaacob sent Yehuda ahead to Goshen, in order to build a Yeshivah. Yaacob knew the absolute necessity of maintaining a Jewish identity while in Egypt, or all would be lost. The work of his forefathers’ in creating a nation devoted to God would be completely lost.
In this week's parasha, Yaacob teaches his children in a final dramatic fashion, how one is to deal with galout at the end of one's days. No matter how comfortable and home-like galout may feel, in the end, it is not Israel. Yaacob tells Yosef that he wants no part of Egypt, and that Egypt is not his home in any way. Yaacob tells Yosef that he does not want to be buried in Egypt, and that his body should be taken to Israel.
We must follow in Yaacob's footsteps, build and strengthen our religious centers. We need to remember, that when leaving all that we have built in Brooklyn to enjoy a vacation, that we still the chosen people. Our religious centers may not be with us, but we must always carry our tefilin, our siddour, and remember what makes us different.