“I Myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I Myself will also bring you back; and Yosef‘s hand shall close your eyes.” GENESIS 46:4 (The Israel Bible™)

Yaakov’s family descends to Egypt to escape the famine in Eretz Yisrael. In this verse, Hashem assures Yaakov that when the Children of Israel are in exile, Hashem’s presence will accompany them. Rabbi Yehuda Lowe, a sixteenth century Talmudic scholar known as the Maharal, points out that the word ‘descend’ in this verse was carefully chosen. It conveys the idea that spiritually speaking, Eretz Yisrael is the highest of all places, and hence one who leaves that land is descending. Of course, the opposite is also true. Travel to Israel is repeatedly referred to in the Bible as an ‘ascension.’ Whenever one enters the land Israel, he or she experiences an elevated spiritual state.