Shalom, welcome back. This week’s parshah is the confrontation between good and evil. Yakov (Jacob) is the embodiment of emet (truth) and tiferet (beauty or splendor). He is confronted by his twin brother Eisav, coming with 400 warriors to kill him. Yakov is returning from exile to Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel). He left a poor man, Eisav’s son Eliphaz took all of Yakov’s money, instead of killing him. He now returns with two wives, two handmaids, eleven sons and a vast amount of flocks, herds, cattle, gold and silver. His wife Rachel is pregant with Binyamin (Benjamin), and he may lose everything to Eisav.
After crossing his family and all his possesions over the river Yabbok, Yakov is attacked by the guardian angel of Eisav. This is no ordinary angel. It is the Yaitzer Harah (Evil Inclination), whose other jobs include being the Prosecutor in the Heavenly Courts; and the Angel of Death. This angel also being the one, who seduced Adam and Chavah (Eve) to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The spiritual force that brought Evil into this world.
Yakov wrestles with this angel all throughout the night. Then the Torah says, “When he perceived that he could not overcome him, he struck the ball of his thighbone; and the ball of Yakov’s thighbone became dislocated as he wrestled with him.” (Bereishis/Genesis 32:26) The angel then asks Yakov to release him because it is dawn. Rashi explains that the angel means he must recite songs (of praise to Hahem) by day. So the force of Evil, must sing to the Infinite Creator during the day.
After surviving this battle, Yakov must now face Eisav HaRasha. Eisav’s descendants will go on to found the Roman Empire, which still lasts today in superpowers like the United States and Russia; combined with other nations like England, France, Spain, Germany and Italy. Yakov appeases his brother by sending him a tribute of 10% of his wealth, words of submission and bowing down to Eisav seven times. Even though his father Yitzhak (Isaac) gave Yakov the blessing, “Nations will serve you, and regimes will prostrate themselves to you; be a lord to your brothers, and your mother’s sons will prostrate themselves to you; may those who curse you be cursed, and those who bless you be blessed.” (Bereishis/Genesis 27:29)
Eisav is appeased for the moment, kisses Yakov on the neck and says, “Travel on and let us go I will walk alongside you.” (Bereishis/Genesis 33:12) Yakov responds by saying, “Let my lord go ahead of his servant; I will make my way at my slow pace according to the gait of the work that is before me, and to the gait of the children, until I come to my lord at Seir. Yakov tells Eisav, that his descendants of the Roman Empire will rule the world; it’s been over 2000 years now. Rashi explains this will end in the days of Mashiach (Messiah).
So what does it all mean? We see that the Yaitzer Harah (Evil Impulse) is just a servant of Hashem, like the myriad of legions of the rest of the angels. The Heavens and the Earth have been created by an All-Loving, All-Powerful Creator. If we mistakenly make bad decisions, we can be injured by them. But if we struggle to be good, and fight against the temptation for evil, we cannot be defeated. Because ultimately, evil was just created to help us become greater, by overcoming it. Even the force of evil itself, sings praises to the Greatness of Hashem everyday.
Also we see that history will end in the Messianic Age, and finally in the eternal peace and happiness of Olam Habah (World to Come). Hashem gives all the world life everyday. Hashem creates a beautiful world everyday. Everyone of us has greatness inside of us. We must fight through the doubt, and darkness to see the Emet (Truth) that is all around us. The world is sweet and good, and everyone has the potential to be this also. We only need to walk with Yakov at the slow pace of the work, and the slow pace of our children; enjoying the blessings that always surround us. We can see that sickness, poverty and even death are gifts from the Almighty. Because in the end, everything is replaced with health, prosperity and life in an eternal world. Dare to start looking for the truth, and you will find it.
Have a great week.
14th Kislev, 5771