Parshas Vayeitzei starts off with Yaakov leaving home in order to escape Esav. The first pasuk says, “וַיֵּצֵא יַעֲקֹב מִבְּאֵר שָׁבַע וַיֵּלֶךְ חָרָנָה” “And Yaakov departed from Beer-Sheba and went to Haran” (Bereishis 28:10). Rashi asks why does the pasuk have to say that Yaakov left Beer-Sheba as well as telling us that he went to Haran? Why can’t it just say where he was going, we already know where he left from? It must be that his actual departure is also important. He explains that when a tzaddik resides in a city, the city has an extra magnificence and grandeur. When he leaves, that special atmosphere leaves as well. Therefore, the pasuk makes special mention of his leaving to show the effect it had on Beer-Sheba.
The Kli Yakar asks that Avraham and Yitzchak were also very righteous individuals who had also left many towns in their lifetimes, but nowhere in the Torah does it say anything about the effect their departures had on the cities they left. Shouldn’t their departures have had as big an impact as Yaakov’s? He answers that there are two ways of looking at this idea. One way to look at it is that in their times, Avraham and Yitzchak were the only tzaddikim around and therefore, their departure surely had a huge impact on those cities. The idea is so obvious that the pasuk does not feel the need to mention this. However, when Yaakov was leaving Beer-Sheba, he was leaving Yitzchak behind in the city, so perhaps the effect of his leaving was not as big a deal. Therefore, the pasuk has to come and tell me specifically that it did.
The second way of looking at it is the opposite of the first. Really only Yaakov’s departure made an impact while Avraham and Yitzchak’s did nothing. As we said earlier, when Avraham and Yitzchak left a town, they did not leave any tzaddikim behind. The wicked people who remained probably did not mind them leaving, in fact, they were probably only too happy to see them go! So in that sense, their departures did not make a big impact on the city. However, when Yaakov left, the tzaddikim he left behind, his parents, were very sad to see him go as the city had now lost the merit and protection of another tzaddik. (Besides for the fact that he was their son and they were sad to see him leave.) The difference between having even just one more tzaddik in a city is immeasurable in terms of the extra merit and splendor which the city receives.
For the sake of diversity, let’s include the explanation of the Ohr HaChaim. He says that Yaakov’s leaving from Beer-Sheba was even more important than his going to Haran! He explains that even though Yitzchak had told him to go to Haran, the real purpose of his leaving Beer-Sheba in the first place was to escape Esav’s wrath after he had stolen the brachos from him. Therefore, once he left, his mission had been accomplished and therefore, the pasuk mentions his departure since that was really the main part of his journey.
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