This Shabbos we read Parshas Vayatzai. In the Parsha we read of the story of Yaakov – our Patriarch Jacob, who ran away from his brother Esau to the house of his Uncle Laban. The Torah tells us that Jacob went as far as Charan, the actual city where Laban lived, but then turned around and returned to Jerusalem, to the place of the Temple. When he came there, he prayed, and fell asleep. This took place at Mount Moriah, the Place where many years later the Temple in Jerusalem would be built. As he slept there, Hashem appeared to Jacob and gave him one of the most moving blessings that we find in the entire Bible. Among the blessings that he received was: “The land that you sleep on will be given to you and to your descendants, your children will be as the dust of the Earth, you will spread out West, East, North and South, all the families of the Earth will be blessed with you, I (Hashem) will be with you, I will watch you wherever you go, I will bring you back to Israel, and I will not forsake you until I have done everything that I have promised to you” (Genesis 28:13-15).
Rashi explains that Jacob the reason that Jacob returned to Jerusalem was because he felt that it was improper for him to have passed the place where his father Isaac and his Grandfather Abraham had prayed, at Mount Moriah, and to have not prayed there himself. He therefore decided to immediately return from Charan all the way to Jerusalem. We must bear in mind that Jacob was a 63 year old man. Traveling in those days was certainly not like riding in a car today. One can only imagine that the easy thing for Jacob to have done would have been to rest up for at least a night or two, and then to travel back to Jerusalem. Why did Jacob leave immediately back to Jerusalem?
Rav Dessler points out to us that Jacob was teaching us the importance of doing a mitzvah immediately. When we have the chance and the ability to do something positive we must grab it!! Who knows what could happen as time goes on? We could lose interest, the opportunity could dissipate, or complications could arise. One thing for sure: If we have the chance for a great business deal, or a great meal, we don’t procrastinate. So too, Jacob taught us that mitzvahs are something that we run after with vigor, not wasting a minute to get them.
There is another point that must be added. At the time that Jacob traveled back to Jerusalem he didn’t know that there would be such an amazing reward in store for him. Yet, after the energy he expended, he was showered with the blessings of a lifetime. We must realize that when we do a mitzvah that requires us to expend energy, even if it is hard, we are earning priceless blessings that are eternal. Whether we are shown that right away or not, the feeling of accomplishment of doing something that is not easy but is meaningful is something that must give us inspiration and satisfaction to continues in the right path.