Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Vayigash - 5781
ERETZ YISRAEL - ETERNAL CONNECTION
“Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there."
After many years of not seeing his beloved son, or even knowing if Yosef was alive, our patriarch Yaakov was finally on a journey southward that would change his life and the destiny of his family.
We would expect him to be happy with the situation, yet, Hashem needs to calm Yaakov down and tell him not to fear. Commentators wonder what it was that brought him angst.
Some note that leaving the land of Canaan itself was problematic in his mind - particularly a trip to Egypt, the land that his father was told to avoid. Others state that he was mindful that the exile decree and its difficulties, as told to his grandfather Avraham, was about to begin.
The first-century Romano-Jewish scholar, historian and hagiographer, Josephus, explains the concern in a different way. He states that "when he (Yaakov) came to the well of the oath [Beersheba], he offered sacrifice to Hashem: and being afraid that the happiness in Egypt might tempt his posterity to fall in love with it, and settle in it, and no more think of returning to the land of Canaan, and possessing it, as Hashem had promised them."
Josephus is informing us that the greatest concern we should have regarding the Exile is falling in love with a foreign land and forgetting about our connection to Eretz Yisrael!