Friday Candle Lighting: 4:35 pm
Shabbat Ends: 5:24 pm
On the Way Home
“…please don’t bury me in Egypt.” (47:29)
Over the millennia, the constant hope of the Jew was to return to the Land of Israel, and if not while alive, then suffice it at least that our physical remains should be interred in its holy soil.
The source of this desire comes from this week’s Torah portion.
Why did Yaakov so desire to be buried in Eretz Yisrael? There were several reasons:
The mystical sources teach that those who are buried in Eretz Yisrael will be the first to arise at the time of the resurrection of the dead. For those who are buried in the Diaspora, G-d will create special tunnels. Through these tunnels a person’s body will roll until it reaches Eretz Yisrael. Yaakov wanted to spare himself the pain of rolling through these tunnels.
Another consideration was that the Egyptians might turn him into a god posthumously. If Yaakov were buried in Egypt the chance of their worshipping his remains was that much higher.
Also, Yaakov foresaw the Ten Plagues that would afflict Egypt, and he knew that the plague of lice would infest corpses as well as the living. He did not want G-d to perform a miracle for him to escape that fate.
However, the reason that speaks to us loudest across the millennia is that Yaakov did not want to be buried in Egypt because he was concerned that the generations that came after him might surmise that if Yaakov was buried in Egypt, the land of Egypt must also be a holy place.
We are the descendents of Yaakov. It was the wish of our great ancestor that however comfortable we may become in our exile, we should never forget that there is nothing holy about the soil of Sydney, Paris or Boro Park.
They are just temporary stops on our way home.
- Sources: Midrash Bereshet Rabbah, Rabbeinu Bachya