Friday Candle Lighting: 4:26 pm
Shabbat Ends: 5:14 pm
In the Midst of the Darkness
“He (Yaakov) encountered the place” (28:11)
The spiritual masters explain that the word “vayifga” — “he encountered” — is an expression of prayer, and it is from this word that we derive that Yaakov instituted Ma’ariv, the Evening Prayer. The reason that the Torah did not plainly say “he prayed” is to teach that the earth contracted for Yaakov and made his journey shorter.What does prayer have to do with the contraction of the earth? In verse 15 Yaakov says, “Surely G-d is in this place, and I did not know!”, implying that indeed this place was very distant from being able to sense the Presence of G-d. So much so that Yaakov was surprised to be able to sense the Divine Presence there. Inside Yaakov there was a tremendous desire to be close to G-d, and it was for this reason that the earth contracted, and Mount Moriah came to meet Yaakov.There is a message here for us all:However distant we may feel from G-d, and however dark our world may seem, if we make a sincere effort, G-d will move mountains to bring us close to Him. That, in essence, is the concept of the Evening Prayer, Ma’ariv — to reveal the light in the midst of the darkness.
Sources: Sfat Emet in Talelei Orot