This week’s Torah portion, Vayishlach, relates Jacob’s statement that, “I have sojourned - garti - with Laban.”
The great commentator Rashi notes that the word garti has the numerical equivalent of 613. Thus, by using the word garti, Jacob implied that, “Though I visited with the wicked Laban, I have observed the 613 Mitzvot (commandments).”
“Sojourned” implies that Jacob lived as a stranger with his father-in-law. All aspects of Laban, all the physical objects of oxen, donkeys, flocks, menservants and handmaids, were to Jacob no more than garti - something alien, something strange, transitory. They were not his true self.
Where did Jacob feel his true self? Where did he feel at home and not like a stranger? - When he was involved in studying Torah and performing Mitzvot.
His true home was when he was engaged in serving G-d.
The Maggid of Mezeritch, (whose yohrtzeit is this coming Sunday, on the 19th of Kislev) when asked why his home was furnished so sparsely said, “At home, it is different.” A person’s home must contain all the amenities of life. However, when we travel, when we are on the road, it is not so important that our temporary dwelling be furnished beautifully, after all, it is just a journey.” And for him, his life was just a transition.
While still in exile we are “on the road”; like strangers on a temporary visit, a journey, heading toward the eternal world of truth.
We are not yet in our true home. As expressed in Jacob’s message to Esau: “garti - I am only a sojourner.”
In the Days of Moshiach, we will finally be at “home,” engaged in our real task of serving G-d. May it happen immediately!
Candle lighting time for L.A. is 4:25 pm.