Rashi explains that Yehudah had been sent ahead to establish a house of study from which learning would emanate. The aged Patriarch was preparing to leave his home and familiar environment because of a terrible famine that had afflicted the land. His long-lost son Yosef was anxiously awaiting his arrival. A special parcel of land had been designated for these refugees. Yaakov, however, had one issue on his mind – to send Yehudah to pave the way to build houses of study.
Before tents were to be set up, before houses were to be built, the Torah institutions were prepared. Some might say that Yaakov should have waited until the family had adjusted to the new environment. Perhaps his teachings would have to be altered to meet the demands of the new society. No! Yaakov sent Yehudah to prepare the institutions before his arrival. “sunk, ,hc uk ie,k” – to set up a house of learning, “vtruv tm, oana” – not for handicraft, not for careers, but for a way of life; to draw up plans so that Jewish life could be maintained and strengthened.
The Patriarch’s first objective was to sow the seed of Jewish education. It is the foundation of Jewish life upon which everything depends. One can study the language of the Jew, the history of the Jew, the literature of the Jew, but if it is not combined with the Torah of the Jew, “vtruv tm, oana” – upon which the way of life of the Jew is built, then it is doomed to failure. Torah education alone can enable the fulfillment of the Jewish mission of life – to make the Jew the instrument of Hashem among men.