Departure and Destination
"Yaakov departed Be'er Sheva and went towards Charan."
These opening words of this week's Torah portion capsulate the history of our people for the last two thousand years.
Whatever happened to the Patriarchs, say our Sages, was repeated in some form in the lives of their descendants. Yaakov's departure from Eretz Yisrael for a foreign land was a preview of the exile of his descendants from their Land.
The mention of both the departure and the destination in this opening passage suggests a double purpose for exile. When Jews proved unworthy of living in the Holy Land because of their sinful ways, it was necessary for Heaven to arrange their departure from it. In order to be worthy of returning they had to endure the difficulties of exile, which would atone for their sins and arouse them to repentance.
Both departure and destination thus serve the purpose of achieving a return to our ultimate destination of Israel forever.