After experiencing his life-changing vision of the ladder and God’s assurance to him, “Remember, I am with you: I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Bereshit 28:15), Yaakov awakens refreshed and recommitted to his journey. To illustrate just how rejuvenated Yaakov’s spirits were, the Torah tells us, “Yaakov lifted his legs (lit.) and he went to the land of the people of the east” (Ibid., 29:1). “Yaakov lifted his legs” struck Chazal as a strange way to describe how Yaakov resumed his journey. After all, don’t the legs lift up the body of a person? Why does the Torah say that Yaakov lifted his legs? According to the Midrash, “Rabbi Acha said: ‘A healing heart is the life of the flesh’ (Mishlei 14:30). When one is the recipient of good tidings, his heart bears his feet” (Bereshit Rabbah 70:8). There is no doubt that Yaakov was physically exhausted from fleeing his brother’s rage. There is no doubt that he was emotionally drained and mentally spent. Yet, the reassurance God gave him in his vision filled him with such hope, peace and joy, that his feeling of spiritual wholeness carried him despite his strained condition, and enabled him to continue on his way.
When we are physically, emotionally and mentally depleted, it’s hard to muster the strength to continue moving forward on our journeys. However, when we have hope, when we feel a caring force in our lives guiding us along our way, it is incredible to see just how far we can go and just how much we can accomplish despite our exhaustion. During these difficult times, many of us feel like we have emptied our last drops of energy. However, we must remember that which God told Yaakov: “Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your descendants” (Bereshit 28:14). In the midst of the horror we see all around us today, we must hold onto the hope God has promised us. Let that hope carry us, let that hope lift us and bear us ever forward as we continue on our journeys toward realizing our spiritual mandate – bringing light to the darkness, courage to the faint of heart, and wholeness to so much brokenness.