The Sparks That Pursue Us - ויצא

Friday, 24 November, 2023 - 2:48 pm


The Sparks That Pursue Us

Jacob was the only one of the three patriarchs to leave the land of Israel for an extended period of time, and his story represents the ability of the Jew to survive and ultimately thrive during the extended period of our exile. Every aspect of this week’s Torah portion, beginning with the opening statement, “And Jacob left Beer Sheba, and he went to Haran”, is relevant to the story of every Jew in the spiritually challenging environment of exile. 

After twenty years of separation from his parents and the land of Israel, Jacob escaped his domineering father-in-law, Laban, taking his family and possessions with him. Laban chased Jacob, and after an intense confrontation, they created a monument attesting to their peace. 

The Magid of Mezritch explained the mystical meaning of this episode. Every physical object and experience possesses a Divine spark embedded within it. The task of the Jew is to “refine” and “elevate” the sparks by using the physical object for a positive and holy purpose. When Jacob left Charan there were still sparks that he had not yet elevated; when Laban chased him and confronted him, Laban brought these mystical sparks to Jacob to be elevated: 

Jacob had left behind “Torah letters” that he had not yet extracted from Laban. Laban chased Jacob to give him the letters that he had left in Laban’s possession. With these letters, an entire section was added to the Torah. 

Why was it necessary for Laban to bring the additional sparks to Jacob? Why could Jacob not elevate those sparks during his twenty-year stay in Charan? 

The Rebbe explains that there are two forms of sparks. There are those sparks and experiences that a person can incorporate and elevate through intentional focus. Yet there are other experiences whose sparks are so lofty and profound that they surpass the ability to be understood and appreciated through the logical mind. Those are sparks that the person will not pursue, for he cannot fathom how these experiences can enhance his spiritual well-being: 

During his stay in Laban’s house, Jacob refined sparks that had to be refined by engaging with them willingly and knowingly. However, Laban also possessed such lofty sparks that Jacob couldn’t elevate them utilizing his service based on will and knowledge. Therefore, these sparks remained in Laban’s possession. Such sparks could only be refined and elevated by a Supernal power. 

We, too, encounter both forms of sparks. We pursue happiness, success, and well-being in order to fulfill our purpose of creation and our spiritual mission to bring holiness, goodness, and kindness into the world. Those are the sparks we pursue. But then there are sparks that pursue us. There are experiences and challenges that we cannot imagine leading to anything positive. We seek to run away from them. But occasionally, they pursue us. The lesson of the story is that it is precisely those experiences that possess the greatest and deepest sparks. The sparks of holiness within these experiences have far greater potency and potential for incredible transformation and growth. Often, the most profoundly meaningful moments of our life are the experiences we did not seek out or anticipate, but rather the experiences that pursued us. 

Adapted from the teachings of the Rebbe, Likkutei Sichos vol. 15 Vayetze 5

Comments on: The Sparks That Pursue Us - ויצא
There are no comments.