Gratitude for the Future

Friday, 24 November, 2023 - 6:17 am

 As Americans are putting away their dishes from Thanksgiving dinner, Jews are getting ready to usher in Shabbat, a weekly time of thanksgiving.

At this moment, thankfulness is not an easy task for Jews.

Yet, today we received a small sliver of gratitude to Almighty G-d. Our hearts are bursting with joy for the hostages that have been released from terrorist captivity. We can only imagine the glee their families will experience as they are reunited.

But, the situation is still very complex. Thousand are mourning the loss of loved ones, all due to the barbaric acts of terrorists. It’s unclear what the future holds – for the rest of the hostages and for our brethren in the Holy Land. And, for Jews worldwide.

Let’s take a look at the parsha for some guidance. In Vayetzeh, we read about Yaakov’s journey to Charan. On the way, Yaakov has a famous dream. He receives a blessing and guarantee from G-d that his children will inherit the Holy Land and that he will return safely.

Immediately after that promise, Yaakov “lifted his feet and went to the land of the people of the East.”

What does it mean that he “lifted his feet,” which seems to be something that he did before he “went to the land…”?

Our Sages teach that, “As soon as he was given the good tidings that he was assured protection, his heart lifted his feet, and he became fleet-footed.”

That makes sense. When we know goodness lies ahead, we have a special skip in our gait.

However, upon further scrutiny, this seems odd. It’s true that eventually Yaakov would return to his homeland. And, it’s true that his children would be plentiful. It’s also accurate that his children would inherit the land.

But –

Between the promise and fulfillment of the promise, Yaakov had a large share of troubles. His uncle swindled him, his wife died, his brother almost killed him, his daughter was violated, his son is assumed dead for over 20 years, and much more.

Why is he able to travel so joyfully? Is it due to his ignorance of his troubles?

Clearly, Yaakov was aware that the road ahead is bumpy. That’s why he is so grateful for the assurance. So, why doesn’t he take a more measured response?

Rather, Yaakov is teaching us a powerful lesson, one that Jews cherish until today.

The path that G-d takes us upon is our destiny. We know it will be good in the end. We also know there may be challenges along the way. The challenges will require us to earn our destiny, to partner with Hashem in creating the life that He designed for us. Through our hardships and struggles, we will leave an indelible mark on the world.

The process may not be smooth or easy. But, it will be meaningful – because it will lead us to the ultimate goodness.

Yaakov was deeply aware that his life would be difficult. But, he embraced the role – so long as he knew it was leading to the destiny that G-d had promised his predecessors. Seeing himself as part of that chain and continuity meant that he would have the fortitude to make a difference.

Despite political, physical and spiritual challenges, he would persevere.


Today, we live in the world that Yaakov lived in. Just like the Charan of old, the world is still inhabited by many cheaters and oppressors.

Yet, knowing that we have a purpose in this world – to bring light, holiness and goodness – allows us to feel gratitude even in times of strife.

We are thankful to Almighty G-d, for getting us her and for the future that is indeed bright. Soon enough, the entire world will see the beauty and peace of Hashem’s world, with the coming of Moshiach.

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