By Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn
Let us begin by quoting the classic words of Bruce Springsteen:
In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream
At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on Highway 9,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected and steppin out over the line
Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap
We gotta get out while were young
‘Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run
Some people are born to run. That is, we find them running more than other people. Yaakov is one such individual. At the bookends of our parsha – we find him running. He is returning from running at the beginning of the parsha, and he is running at the end of the parsha.
Why is Yaakov always running? There are many reasons to run. One can run because they are leaving or abandoning something. Yaakov was clearly fleeing the wrath of Esav. However, at some point one has to stop running and find a circumstance or value that replaces the very thing that he or she has run from. You can’t run forever.
Whenever we make a choice we must ask ourselves: are we running from something, something that scares us and are we therefore taking refuge in the safe alternative or are we choosing a new destination because that’s what we really want for ourselves. The verse says “ויצא יעקב מבאר שבע וילך חרנה” – “And Yaakov left Be’er Sheva and he went to Charan.” Why does the Torah use the language of “ויצא” (left) and “וילך” (went)?
The Steipler Gaon answers, along the lines of our very idea, that people leave somewhere either because they’re running away from something or because they have to go somewhere. Yaakov was doing both. The word for “run” in Hebrew is רץ. It is also the route of the word רצון, which means “will.” For where you run to or from is the greatest expression of your will. Yaakov expressed us his will to stay clear of Esav and he in turn expressed his will to arrive at the next stages of his life – transcendence, marriage, and the building of a dynasty.
Originally appears on YUTorah