Parshat Vayeitzei

The Parsha of Vayeitzei commences with the following passage (28:10) “And Jacob left from Be’er Sheva and went toward Haran”.

Rashi in his commentary questions the obviously superfluous information embedded in the pasuk: Why, he asks, was it necessary for the Torah to mention Jacob’s city of departure, clearly, the reader knows from the previous Parsha that Jacob was leaving his family home in Be’er Sheva.

Rashi answers this evident question by advancing a selection from the Midrash on Ruth which states the following: “ Whenever a Tzaddik leaves a town, the townspeople perceive the acute absence of beauty, grace and regality which had been previously present during the Tzaddik’s stay within the city boundaries. “
In the words of the Gur Aryeh a Tzaddik teaches his townspeople the laws of Hashem, wisdom and midot tovot. This is the loss that Rashi is alluding to in his remarks.

In any case, Rashi interprets the departure of Jacob from his town as a removal of spirituality which has “gone out” of Be’er Sheva through his departure.

My paternal grandfather ZT”L offers a different interpretation in his sefer ‘Hegei Yona’ to answer Rashi’s question.

My grandfather bases his derasha on the famous Ramban (26:5).
The Ramban asks –How was it that Yaakov married two sisters?
The Torah describes the Avot as Tzaddikim who kept all the laws of the Torah! If so how did Yaakov sin against the Torah? To this he answers: “And I understand from Chazal that Avraham Avinu learned the entire Torah through his holy spirituality and he performed the mitzvoth with deep understanding and fundamental beliefs and he held onto the mitzvoth ONLY in Eretz Yisrael. And Yaakov only in the Diaspora married two sisters and also Amram married his aunt Yocheved in the diaspora. ..”

It seems clear from the Ramban that there was an enormous distinction between Eretz Yisael and the diaspora in regards to the performance of the mitzvoth. For Yaakov to leave the sanctity of Eretz Yirael where mitzvoth were kept to the diaspora in Haran where he would not keep the mitzvoth must have made a very difficult impression on Yaakov.

The Torah by referring to ‘Jacob’s departure” from Beer Sheva is emphasizing Yaakov’s deep pain –as he was leaving a place where mitzvoth were part of his existence.

To sum things up, both commentaries are using the word “and he went out” as allegorical to a spiritual departure. Rashi is commenting about the decreased loss of kedusha as regarding the town of Be’er Sheva. My granfather, on the other hand , is defining the spiritual loss Yaakov himself felt for leaving Eretz Yisrael.
My grandfather was a true Zionist literally and figuratively fought for the establishment of Israel. When he did leave to America for many years he would lament on his loss. It is no wonder that he is describing Yaakov experiencing the same pain.

Student studying in MMY