As Hashem is about to conclude the Tochacha in Parshat Bechukotai, He assures us that He will Remember the covenant that He made with the Avot: “Vezacharti Et Beriti Yaakov Ve’af Et Beriti Yitzchak Ve’af Et Beriti Avraham Ezkor, Vehaaretz Ezkor” (26:42). The obvious difficulty with this Pasuk is that Yaakov is mentioned first, followed by Yitzchak and Avraham. What does Hashem wish to convey by promising that He will first remember Yaakov’s covenant, only afterward remembering the covenants made with Yitzchak and Avraham?
Rav Hirsch suggests that the order of the Avot in this Pasuk is most appropriate, for after all, the purpose of this Pasuk is to offer a glimmer of hope for the Jewish people, which has just heard that its future will at times be filled with suffering. It does so by reminding us of how God’s presence works. It is not difficult to see that God’s presence is with us when we are respected and admired by the nations of the world. Avraham was afforded the dignified title of Nesi Elokim (Bereshit 23:6) by the Bnei Chet. This brought honor to Hashem and spread the spirit of monotheism.
God’s hand in the events that surrounded Yitzchak’s life was not as apparent. Yitzchak was not respected by the Pelishtim, with whom he came in contact quite frequently. There was a sense of jealousy and hatred that quite obviously did not bring honor to God and His newly founded people. Nevertheless, Yitzchak was wealthy and did not experience persecution. Yaakov, on the other hand, actually entered Galut on two occasions (Mitzrayim and the house of Lavan) and lived a life of bitterness, persecution and misfortune. Although Yaakov had plenty to complain about, he remained steadfast in his faith, and God protected him and his family.
At the end of the lengthy rebuke and list of calamities that may (Rachamana Litzlan) befall our people, Hashem first and foremost promises that he will remember Yaakov. Yaakov experienced a life of hardships, yet he was guarded and cared for by the Divine Presence (as removed as it may have seemed). Similarly, we should find comfort and hope in God’s commitment to remember His covenant with us even when He seems so far removed from us.