Subscribe to a Weekly Series

Posted on November 30, 2023 (5784) By Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein | Series: | Level:

Yaakov remained alone.[1]

“There is none like G-d, O Yeshurun.”[2] A midrash[3] expands upon this. “Who is like G-d? Yeshurun! Regarding Hashem it is written, ‘Hashem alone shall be raised high on that day.’[4] Similarly, ‘Yaakov remained alone.’” The connection between the two is mystifying.

To explain the intent of the midrash, we will first have to look at another puzzling passage:[5] “‘All flesh, be still before Hashem, for He has stirred from His holy abode.’ One opinion is that He stirs like a chicken that shakes trash from its body; another opinion is like a chicken that shakes trash off its wings.” The comparison is hardly regal, let alone Divine!

Here is what it means.

Hashem never ceases to watch over us benevolently. Even in our painful travail in exile, while we live in the lands of our enemies, His providence does not cease. At times, when we are sorely afflicted and are felled and lowered, He rises to help us. He improves our circumstances, making them livable. This relief, however, is not to our liking, even were we to enjoy everything that these lands have to offer. Our true purpose is to be in Eretz Yisrael! The Land is where we can completely perfect ourselves; there we can advance from spiritual level to spiritual level, and soar to the highest achievements!

This is the analogy to the chicken in the trash heap. We are the chicken, and we are mired by the filth and degradation of galus, to the point of become stuck, immobile. Hashem has compassion on us, and allows us to shake a bit of it loose, allowing us to at least move. The other opinion objects. This movement in galus is meaningless. We cannot be comforted until we can remove the dross caught in our wings. We will be satisfied only when we can once again propel ourselves to the heights of the heavens.

Why is it so important that we do so? Because what we are mirrors what Hashem is! We proclaim this every Shabbos at mincha. “You are One. Your name is One. Who is like Your nation Yisrael, a singular nation on earth.” In other words, just as He is One in the reality of the heavens, so is the Jewish people special, unique, singlular on earth. Our fate determines events around the globe. We are capable of a unity unknown to other nations, because we are rooted entirely in the One. We are (or are meant to be) a vehicle of pride and esteem for our Creator. What we are affects how others see Him.

That is what happened to Yaakov. He remained alone. Unique. Self-contained. He encountered all the sources of animosity and hatred that sought to vanquish him. They could not prevail. In the end, he won their brachah. They recognized his specialness and uniqueness – that which makes him stand proudly alone even at the end of time. So, too, at the end of days, “Hashem alone shall be raised high on that day.”

That is our mission. To reflect Hashem’s Oneness, and place it in sharper focus in this world.

  1. Bereishis 32:25
  2. Devarim 33:26
  3. Bereishis Rabbah 77:1
  4. Yeshayahu 2:11
  5. Bereishis Rabbah 75:1