The Ultimate Separation

Kislev 15, 5783
December 9, 2022
Candlelighting Time 4:17 PM

            Yaakov after twenty difficult years at the house of Lavan finally travels back to his father. However, not until he has to deal with his wayward brother Eisav. The hatred still prevails because Yaakov stole the blessings from their father Yitzchok that were meant for Eisav. Although Yitzchok eventually conceded them to Yaakov, Eisav was still extremely agitated and was poised for a military encounter with his brother. Eisav is successfully repulsed and finally Yaakov arrives at Shechem. Our Sages teach us that he was still wealthy, well-versed in Torah and healthy even though he had battled the angel of Eisav as well. As Rashi states, he had escaped from the jaws of the two lions, Lavan and Eisav. As he settled down in Shechem it was late Friday afternoon and he set up his settlement just in time for Shabbos. All the Patriarchs observed the entire Torah, not just Yaakov, so why is it important to mention specially now that Yaakov kept Shabbos since this is an obvious fact?

            Additionally, it is also interesting to note that the law pertaining to the distance one may travel outside of his town or settled area is what the Torah cites. There are many important laws of Shabbos that the Torah could have remarked that Yaakov observed, why dote on this one?

            Perhaps we may suggest that Yaakov had declared to Eisav that although he had dwelled together with Lavan, a man of ill-repute, nonetheless, the negative influences found there did not affect him. He dealt with him but his ambience did not impact him in the slightest. The concept that one has a limited distance that he can travel on Shabbos also serves to confine us and impress upon us the realization that one who serves Hashem is necessarily separated from others, those, of course, that might be detrimental to his outlook on life. And that lesson and that perspective were certainly demonstrated by Yaakov and therefore, the idea of separation on Shabbos meshed remarkably with his theme of life, which displayed a perfected state in Yaakov’s achievements in life.

            This brings to bear another important aspect of Shabbos. As we see from Yaakov, Shabbos is the apex of perfection. When we have reached a plateau of excellence in our service to Hashem, then Shabbos is that highlight that concretizes our noble level of relationship with Hashem and gives it a permanence that will endure. As the Zohar states, the first three days of the week receive their essence of benevolence from the previous Shabbos and the three forthcoming days are sustained from the upcoming Shabbos. And that dynamism that Shabbos offers us is exponentially measured by our observance of Shabbos in its most pristine and dignified manner.

            Perhaps then the Torah mentions Yaakov observance of Shabbos to emphasize that Shabbos is indeed the culmination of our service to Hashem in its most grandiose fashion just as Yaakov was the finale of the three Patriarchs, the ultimate creation of the Jewish nation. And we should therefore realize that in life when we encounter challenges and we successfully navigate those situations, we are then in a better place to reach those heights of performance of mitzvos and study of Torah that will propel us to certainly look forward to a Shabbos of tremendous eminence.  


Although Yaakov wanted to honor Eisav with gifts, however, he did not choose from the best of stock. He reasoned that everything has a purpose and to give to Eisav animals that he would slaughter incorrectly thereby abusing them, he therefore chose from the lesser ones.                     CHOFETZ CHAIM