2017 has been one of the strangest years in recent history. The election of Donald Trump has elicited extreme reactions from all directions. One can say that this year has been a truly paradoxical one. On one hand we are experiencing unprecedented prosperity, with the stock market soaring to new heights, breaking record after record. On the other hand, we have never seen so much polarization, and a lightning rod of a president who has everyone’s attention, for good or for bad.
Daily, we witness extraordinary scientific and technological breakthroughs, which radically improve the quality of virtually every area of our lives. And daily, we witness, as well, an unparalleled breakdown of personal and family life, crises in intimacy and relationships, people in the grip of despair and emptiness.
We have never been as connected and as disconnected all at once.
As we close out the year – which corresponds with the closing out of the Book of Genesis – it seems appropriate to look back a little, and perhaps identify trends that can help us understand where we are headed and what we can improve to get there.
Indeed, the story of Jacob in this concluding chapter parallels the paradox of our times and lives in exile. For seventeen years, Jacob also spent out of the Land of Israel – in Egypt, the most depraved place on earth!
Why could Jacob not have been blessed to live out his last and best years in the Land of Israel? What lessons can we derive from this today?
The answer to this question is contained in the answer to the greatest question of them all: Why are we here and where are we headed?