We’ve come a long way with our ability to see in the dark. Night vision goggles can now be purchased proving us with a host of previously impossible nocturnal activities. Being able to see without traditional light is truly a great feat.
Our Torah portion describes Jacob’s journey to Egypt. Jacob traveled there to be reunited with his long list son Joseph. On the way, we are told that Jacob has an “encounter with G-d”, who reassures him and encourages him not be be afraid of moving to a new country, and that G-d will make him a great nation there. We are told that this conversation happened in a “nighttime vision”.
Why is this an important detail? Is it really something that needs to be remembered throughout history? Do we always need to remember that Jacob’s conversation with G-d on the way to Egypt happened at night?
Night in Jewish history and text can refer to a time of exile. Jacob was leaving Israel and was descending to another country. He had every right and reason to be scared. The fact that G-d appeared at night was relevant and reassuring to him, that even in a place of proverbial darkness, even in exile, it was possible to see G-d. The message is everlasting and these words are not mere details. The “extra words” of nighttime vision are there to inspire us give us an extra lift. When we find ourselves in dark places, all these generations later, we can be sure that even then, even among the darkness, it is possible to encounter the divine. We know that no matter how far we may feel from “our land” and “our home”, (the place we feel comfortable) G-d is with us.
Rabbi Mendy Hecht