Aware of the incidents that led to the sale of his son, Jacob seeing the official escort sent by the Egyptian king, the eternal hope of a parent was rekindled. For the first time in twenty-two years Jacob was no longer a mourner; he would see his son! Jacob was now happy, and the Divine spirit returned to him (Rambam Genesis 45:27). A rekindled Jacob immediately sets out for Egypt.
En route, Jacob demonstrates his appreciation and gratitude by offering sacrifices to Hashem. To be sure, it does not come as a surprise that a patriarch would mark a debt of gratitude by offering a sacrifice to Hashem. However, it is Hashem’s response that is curious. Astonishingly, Hashem responds, "I am the Lord – Lord of your father, do not fear in descending to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there" (Genesis 46:3).
Jacob was presumably not expecting a response from Hashem, but certainly did not expect Hashem to say “don’t be afraid.” The Torah articulates no explanation as to why Jacob should be fearful. In fact, it is Hashem’s “reassurance” that is the source of Jacob’s realization that there was cause for concern. Why does Hashem tell Jacob not to fear when Jacob did not appear frightened?
Recall the Brit Bein HaBetarim, the "covenant between the parts," where Hashem promises Abraham that his children will be slaves, but will ultimately be redeemed from slavery and accrue great wealth. The slavery and redemption had to occur in its providentially appropriate time, which is why Hashem also forbade Isaac to enter the land of Egypt. “Go not down into Egypt; rather dwell in the land which I will tell you of” (Genesis 26:2).
Although Jacob was thrilled to reunite with his son, the Hizkuni alludes to an underlying fear that plagued Jacob. Jacob was indeed scared, he was fearful regarding the future of the Jewish people. Jacob considered that traveling to Egypt, without the consent of Hashem, might cause the years of slavery foretold to Abraham and Isaac to ensue prematurely and negate the covenant. Consequently, Hashem comforts Jacob by telling him fear not, the promise of redemption remains intact and you will be a father of a great nation.
When faced with decisions, whether they appear straightforward or life altering, we ought to consider the myriad of consequences that flow from our actions. We routinely look at the immediate ramifications of our decisions, often neglecting the future implications of our actions. With each little short-term decision, we must reflect on how it will affect our long-term aspirations. The magic of a good strategy is that it takes little additional work in the short term, but you actually arrive somewhere in the long term.
Jacob considered the ramifications of his actions. He not only measured the implications to those around him, but also concerned himself with the future generation. It is with this perspective that Hashem reassures Jacob, and future generations. Provided that we are not shortsighted, and take concern for those around us, Hashem informs us that there is no cause for worry.