“When the days grew near for Israel to die, he called his son Joseph and said to him . . . do not bury me in Egypt . . . carry me out of Egypt . . . And [Jacob] said to him, Swear to me! And [Joseph] swore to him.”

-Vayechi 47:29-31

Jacob did not rely on Joseph’s promise, but asked him to swear. He had no peace of mind until he obtained that oath.

A promise differs from an oath. With a promise one will no doubt do his best to keep it at the appropriate time. Until then, however, one is not disturbed by the pledge. With an oath, however, one is concerned from the moment of swearing: the mind is constantly preoccupied with thoughts how to keep the oath, worrying that failure to do so would lead to the severe consequences of having violated an oath.

Jacob thus charged Joseph, and through him all of Israel, with a most important lesson about our relationship to the galut (exile).

To be sure, our galut was decreed by the Almighty. Nonetheless, we-on our part-must know that the galut is not the place where we belong. A request or promise eventually to leave Egypt, therefore, is not enough. One must sense, and constantly be concerned, that each additional moment in Egypt is a painful burden. Thus, one will continue to pray and demand from the Almighty-“Carry me out from Egypt!”

Even when comfortable in the galut with a materially and spiritually good and pleasant life, one must realize that the galut is not our place. There must be a profound sensing of the exile, of being in an alien place where we do not belong. Just as an oath deprives one from peace of mind until it is actually fulfilled, so we must not cease from crying out and continuously demanding “Carry me out from Egypt!”