This Shabbos we read Parshas Vayigash. In the Parsha we read of the emotional reunification of Joseph and his father Jacob, after being separated for 22 years. When Jacob found out that Joseph was still alive and was in Egypt he decided to leave Israel with his entire family and to go down to Joseph. As he traveled to Egypt, he had a prophesy from Hashem. “And Hashem said to Israel in a dream of the night….” (Genesis 46:2) The famed Meshech Chachmah asks, why is it that the only Patriarch who has Divine Revelations at night is Jacob? Why is it that Abraham and Isaac had revelations in the daytime, and only Jacob is the one who has them in the night? Previously, in Parshas Vayaitzai, we also read of the vision that Jacob has at night – (Genesis 25:12-13). What is the connection between Jacob and Hashem appearing at night?
If we analyze what was going on when Hashem appeared to Jacob, in both these cases, he was about to leave the land of Israel. When descending out of the promised land to the darkness of the Exile, one certainly is leaving the presence of Hashem. There could be a fear of no longer having a connection to Hashem. The appearance of Hashem to Jacob at night was to show that even in the darkness of night, in the darkness of the exile, Hashem’s presence still rests among the Jews. Our Sages express this by telling us that wherever the Jews went to exile, Hashem’s presence went with them.
If we analyze our daily prayers, we are taught that Abraham instituted the morning prayers, Isaac instituted the afternoon prayers, and Jacob instituted the evening prayer (maariv). This is the idea of the evening prayer – the prayer that is said at night - when it is dark. This is the prayer instituted by Jacob, who represents the Jew in exile. Jacob taught us that even when things are dark and unclear, Hashem is the one Who is directing and controlling everything that goes on in the world.
What Jacob taught us, explains the Meshech Chochmah, is that even when we are in the darkness of exile, Hashem is still with us. Our prayers are heard even in this exile which is so dim and dark. Even today as we stand in a tumultuous world , with so much threats to the Jewish people, the words of the Meshech Chochmah provide comfort and strength to us.