This week, we read the portion of Vayishlach, which translated means “to send away,” and that is precisely what Jacob is doing at the beginning of the story. Here we find Jacob sending himself and his family away. Jacob is leaving his father-in-law’s home after 22 years, taking his wife Rachel, his 11 sons, and his daughter with him. Why? Well, we know from last week’s portion that Jacob’s father-in-law Laban was not a very nice person; in fact he was a warlock, an evil man who sought to deceive. We also know from the Zohar that Jacob understood intrinsically that his son, Joseph was very special, that he was to become the foundation of all the spiritual energy that would follow. Jacob knew that he could not raise his family amongst the negative energy of Laban. They would have to leave, and create for themselves a more supportive space to protect and nurture their connection to the Light.
This is an important lesson for each of us. The kabbalists teach that even the most righteous soul can be dragged down by a negative environment. If you’ll allow me the analogy, a tree grows where it is planted. You could have the most positive seed in the world that is born to yield a tree bearing the most perfect fruit, and yet if that seed is planted in the wrong soil, or if it does not receive the nurturing and support – the water and sunlight – that it needs to grow, it cannot be all that it was born to be.