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Overcoming fear with a mission that's clear

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Typically, life does not turn out as we had planned. For better or for worse, life is full of surprises. On Shabbat we read in the Torah about Yaakov Avinu, who found himself in a new and challenging situation: After years of living in the warm and secure tent of Yitzchak and Rivka, he is suddenly forced to flee for his life. Esau his brother is planning to kill him and his mother Rivka urges him to run away. We can certainly surmise that Yaakov feels isolated and afraid, all alone in the world.

Rabbi Eran Tamir asks us to pay attention to the manner in which Yaakov copes with this distressing challenge: A moment before he leaves home, his father Yitzchak calls Yaakov over to him. Yitzchak blesses him and assigns him a mission: Continue the line of succession and build the nation of Israel. Leave Israel, go to Charan, find there a wife and raise a family which will form the foundation for the future nation. In an instant, Yaakov is transformed from a fleeing refugee into someone who takes upon himself a mission. He is not simply running away from his brother, but rather moving forward to build his future.

So Yaakov goes down the road full of confidence and a sense of awesome responsibility. Meaning is embedded into a difficult, fearful reality so that his feelings of fear are transformed into a mission that's clear.

It would be worthwhile to adopt this mindset in our own lives and that of our nation. When we or our children are assigned a task, when we are given a mission and have a clear goal, the world and our place in it look entirely different.


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