In the previous parsha, Parashas Toldos, the Torah records Yitzchak’s and Rivkah’s instructions to Yaakov to leave Beer Sheva in search of a wife. Yaakov Avinu listened to his parents and proceeded to leave. The last pasuk in the parsha tells us about Eisav’s quest for a wife, a search that led him to Yishmael, whose daughter he married. The Torah now reverts to telling us about Yaakov’s journey, his initial encounter with Rachel and the travail that ensued prior to and during their eventual marriage. The commentators wonder why Eisav’s marriage is placed in the midst of the narrative detailing Yaakov’s farewell to his parents and his journey to Charan. Beer Yosef explains that the Torah is teaching us about the greatness of Yaakov.
Two brothers were born at the same time: one was righteous, the other was evil – one plundered and killed, the other devoted his life to Torah study. One suffered and was forced to flee his home to protect himself, while the other lived a life of peace, calm and comfort. Yet, Yaakov, the virtuous brother, did not complain – even when his brother, the evil Eisav, found his wife immediately. Never did he question Hashem; never did he complain. He accepted whatever he encountered. This was Yaakov’s distinctiveness. His faith never wavered; his commitment never faltered, his devotion to Hashem never waned. The question, concerning why the righteous suffer while the wicked prosper, a question that has plagued and destroyed so many, did not bother Yaakov. The great challenges that confronted him did not change his belief one iota.
This perspective manifests a remarkable appreciation of Yaakov Avinu’s attitude. How do we know that he did not complain or subconsciously question Hashem’s manner of dealing with him? Horav Matisyahu Solomon, Shlita, derives this from the Torah’s text describing Yaakov’s forced departure from home. The Torah says, “Va’yeitzei Yaakov,” “Yaakov departed from (Beer Sheva).”In the Haftorah, the Navi says, “Va’yivrach Yaakov,” “Yaakov fled.” Which accurately reflects the reality? Did he leave peacefully, or did he flee for his life? Horav Solomon posits that both descriptions are correct. Yaakov fled; in his mind, he accepted this necessary course of events as if he were departing of his own free will. Yaakov saw only the will of Hashem. Every situation, every challenge, every trial, represented the will of Hashem. That Eisav found a mate with ease, while he, Yaakov, underwent serious hardship reflected the will of Hashem. Consequently, he accepted it with joy, never feeling pangs of envy or anger. The Navi records the true course of events, while the Torah emphasizes Yaakov’s attitude to these events.
This is the way our Torah leaders lived. Everything represented the will of Hashem. Running from city to city, from ghetto to ghetto, from bunker to bunker – it was the will of Hashem. Horav Solomon cites Horav Eliyahu Meir Bloch, z.l., who, together with Horav Chaim Mordechai Katz, z.l., founded the Telshe Yeshivah in America during World War II, and were driven by this force. Horav E.M. Bloch came to these shores, a broken firebrand saved from the fires of the Holocaust, with one intent: to rebuild the yeshivah. People wondered how someone who had survived the cataclysmic destruction of European Jewry, a man who had lost his family, could come here with such determination and resolve, almost with “chutzpah,” to take upon himself the awesome challenge of building Torah in a strange land. His response was simple, “I have come here as a shliach Hashem, G-d’s emissary, to build Torah.” Nothing could stand in his way; he was on a mission for Hashem! This was the prevalent attitude of all the Roshei Yeshivah who built Torah in America. They came physically broken, but in mind and spirit they were emotionally charged with a mission. They were Hashem’s messengers. The European tragedy facilitated their move. It was the signal that they were needed elsewhere. It is because of their courage and resolve, that today we are the beneficiaries of an unparalleled Torah legacy founded with mesiras nefesh, self- sacrifice, and committed to the ratzon Hashem, will of G-d.