Rabbi Alexander Tsykin
"And now at my homecoming, the barked elms stand up like sticks along the street. I am a foot taller than when I left, and cannot see the dirt at my feet. ". - Robert Lowell, For the Union Dead Robert Lowell, For the Union Dead
This week Yaakov Avinu comes home, but he comes back a different man. He has suffered through extreme heat and cold. He has been deceived multiple times by someone he should have been able to trust. He has faced plans by his brother to kill him. But now he has come back, back to Beit El, back to the place where his long journey started. And surprise! The stone which he left for himself so long ago still stands. The place hasn't changed, even if Yaakov has.
Yaakov promised to come back to Beit El and give one-tenth of all that he owned to Hashem. However, he needs to come back now for a different reason as well. He needד to reconnect with the G-d he heard from, at the place where it happens. He needed to feel again the promise, now fulfilled, to look after him. Yaakov comes back to Beit El not just to pay a debt, but to remember why he has that debt in the first place.
In life, we have many times when we lose sight of our goals. Though we are being efficient, we are good at our jobs, and we feel like we are succeeding, we don't remember exactly what we are succeeding at. It's important to take the time to remember our goals, to reconnect with them, and to think about how we can carry them forward.