When a person makes the trip to move to Israel we call it “Making Aliyah” and for good reason. Aliyah means to go up and it is so clear that there is a certain air of holiness in Israel, truly a step up from other places around the globe. Similarly when someone moves out of Israel it is called a “Yerida” – going down. If it is so that when one departs from The Holy Land it is a Yerida, a descent in holiness, why in the beginning of our Parsha this week do we say “Vayeitzei Yaakov M’Be’er Sheva – Yaakov went out from Be’er Sheva” (28:10)? Should we not say “When Yaakov descended” or “When Yaakov went down”?
Rashi explains that when a Tzaddik leaves The Holy Land that holy energy, its beauty, its greatness, goes with him; creating an atmosphere of holiness that is bound with the Tzaddik. Yaakov greatly needed this air of holiness with him for he was heading into lands that were spiritually dangerous. Similarly we are all on a journey in our lives and a lot of the time we pass through or even dwell in places that are spiritually dangerous. The only way to not descend into this world is to infuse the physical with the spiritual. Yaakov asked God to provide him with bread to eat and clothing to wear.
The bread to eat not only represents physical nourishment but also represents the spiritual nourishment of the Torah we would be left starving for without. The clothes to wear can also be compared to the Mitzvos we do that wrap around us, protecting us and keeping us spiritually warm. These are the items we must pack into our spiritual knapsack. If we want to go out and make a good impression in the world we can only accomplish it through our Torah; that nourishment Yaakov prayed for. Through our mitzvos; the clothes that keep us safe from the elements. And with these in our backpack we will constantly have a Holy energy traveling with us through the exile, until soon we will all be going up to rejoice and to live in the Holy Land.