Since 7 October, the "Black Shabbat", we have all been riding a rollercoaster. There have been many lows, scary points, and precious few highs. Israel went to war and is still at war. Far too many have been killed. On the other side, many innocents have been caught in the middle of the fighting. Even more, sometimes it feels like the highs aren't real. This week, we saw an announcement that 50 of the hostages will be released, only for the first day of the releases to be delayed, and for Israel's government to repeatedly warn us to expect Hamas betrayal here as well. It sometimes feels like there is no progress or that when something good happens, it is too little or too late.
These problems are typical of our lives. We often expect fast progress on important issues, yet most good things happen far more gradually. Ya'akov Avinu faces a similarly frustrating reality in this week's parsha. The reading opens with Ya'akov fleeing from his brother. After achieving his goal of recognition over Eisav as Yitzchak's heir and receiving the blessing of Avraham, Ya'akov must run away on his own, with nothing, lest Eisav kill him. Worse, he has no idea when he will be able to return.
Once Ya'akov reaches Haran, the setbacks continue. He is tricked into marrying the wrong sister, his money is stolen, and his father-in-law attempts to hold him up and take everything away from him.
However, throughout the trials of his exile from the Land of Israel and from his family, Ya'akov faces the world undaunted, with faith in his G-d. Hashem promises Ya'akov that He will help him, and Ya'akov believes that Hashem will keep that promise as He ultimately does. It takes decades longer than he had hoped, but he keeps the faith through it all.
Ya'akov's experience is relevant to our trials in these difficult times. When faced with the continuous perfidy of Hamas, with the lies of many in the Arab world, and with the indifference or even gleeful acquiesence to evil of much of the Western world, it is easy to lose hope. Ya'akov's lesson is that we must carry on. As water drips on a stone and gradually wears it down, so must we be constantly present and insisting on right and the truth. By standing up for good in the world, we have made the world a far better place for us over time. Let us always remember the lessons of Ya'akov and the Jewish experience throughout history. If we persevere, G-d promises us that we will prevail.