This week’s Torah portion, Vayeitzei relates how a single and solitary Jew left his home and set out for a foreign land, arriving there with nothing, save for his faith in G-d. “For with [only] my staff I passed over this Jordan,” Jacob declared. Nonetheless, Jacob’s steps were sure and confident, as he had full faith in G-d.
Once in Charan, Jacob quickly saw that there was no one upon whom he could rely, not even his relatives. His uncle, Laban, repeatedly tricked and deceived him, yet never once did Jacob lose his faith.
Through outstanding service and dedication to G-d Jacob merited to obtain great wealth. But Jacob’s main achievement in Charan was that, despite their growing up in a hostile environment, every single one of his children was a pious and religious Jew.
Abraham had one son who followed in his righteous ways, Isaac, but he also had another son who did not, Ishmael. Isaac had one son who was righteous, Jacob, but he was also the father of Esau. Both Abraham and Isaac raised their children in Israel and not in exile, yet they still had descendants who abandoned the righteous path.
Jacob, by contrast, raised his family in exile. Required to serve G-d in the most difficult of circumstances, he made sure that his twelve sons would not be affected by the negative influence of Charan. On the contrary, he strove to instill in them the Torah he had received from his forefathers and studied with his ancestors Shem and Ever, thus proving that it was possible to live a Torah-true life even on the other side of the Jordan.
In Charan, Jacob merited both spiritual and material success (“And the man increased exceedingly”) by virtue of his faith in G-d. But the spiritual “great wealth” he acquired was the successful rearing of his children, who were all upright and devout individuals.
The lesson this contains for us at present is clear: The only one upon whom we can ever depend is G-d, to Whom we connect ourselves through the medium of Torah and mitzvot (commandments).
By educating our children in the ways of Torah, the eternal Torah we have inherited from our fathers and grandfathers, we will merit to go out of exile “with our youth and with our elders, with our sons and with our daughters.” And when Moshiach comes we will be fully prepared to meet the Redemption.
May it be G-d’s will that this happens very soon, and that we greet Moshiach speedily in our days.