This article on the portion of the week was originally published in 2019.
This week, we read the portion of Vayishlach, which translated means “to send away,” and that is precisely what Jacob is doing at the beginning of the story. Here we find Jacob sending himself and his family away. Jacob is leaving his father-in-law’s home after 22 years, taking his wife Rachel, his 11 sons, and his daughter with him. Why? Well, we know from last week’s portion that Jacob’s father-in-law Laban was not a very nice person; in fact he was a warlock, an evil man who sought to deceive. We also know from the Zohar that Jacob understood intrinsically that his son, Joseph was very special, that he was to become the foundation of all the spiritual energy that would follow. Jacob knew that he could not raise his family amongst the negative energy of Laban. They would have to leave, and create for themselves a more supportive space to protect and nurture their connection to the Light.
"A tree grows where it is planted."
This is an important lesson for each of us. The kabbalists teach that even the most righteous soul can be dragged down by a negative environment. If you’ll allow me the analogy, a tree grows where it is planted. You could have the most positive seed in the world that is born to yield a tree bearing the most perfect fruit, and yet if that seed is planted in the wrong soil, or if it does not receive the nurturing and support – the water and sunlight – that it needs to grow, it cannot be all that it was born to be.
This is one of the many reasons why Rav Berg and I made it our life’s mission to create Kabbalah Centre study groups and locations around the world. It was not just so there would be places of learning. After all, you can learn anywhere today – be it from books or online. No, the purpose of the Centres was to build communities of like-minded friends who would support each other in their spiritual growth.
"This a powerful week to consider your surroundings."
This a powerful week to consider your surroundings. There is an energy this week that can assist us in drawing boundaries for ourselves, or moving ourselves out of negative environments. The universe will also assist us in finding and creating for ourselves a more positive space. This doesn’t mean we need to hang out with only perfect people; for there is nobody on this planet who is not imbued with a little bit of darkness and a little bit of Light. What it does mean, however, is that we can start to surround ourselves with individuals who lift us up instead of drag us down, who help us to be our best instead of placating to our limitations, and who will be there in our time of need and in our time of joy, giving us, too, the opportunity to be there in return.
By choosing more positive influences, we will afford ourselves the means to grow on the spiritual path, and our experience of life will be all the more positive for it.