Torah Tidbits

23 April 2014 / 23 Nisan 5774
Issue 1023
Shabbat Parshat Vayishlach
November 29, 2012

Lead Tidbit

Eisav, Lavan, Eisav - then...

Back at the end of Toldot, things were fairly simple and straightforward - The Torah tells us that Eisav thought (said in his heart) to kill Yaakov (after their father Yitzchak would die). Rivka finds out about Eisav’s thought and she engineers Yaakov’s departure from Be’er Sheva, to keep him out of harm’s way from Eisav.
Parshat Vayeitzei leaves the Yaakov-Eisav issue and reintroduces us to a different adversary of Yaakov’s - his uncle and father-in-law, Lavan. Lavan does not seem to want to kill Yaakov (although our sources teach us that he tried to do that way back when Eliezer came looking for a shidduch for Yitzchak). Lavan’s tactic in Vayeitzei is to keep Yaakov under his thumb, and to exploit Yaakov.
None of Lavan’s plans seemed to have worked out, although he did benefit financially from his association with Yaakov. And, although Yaakov showed a burst of anger and resentment with Lavan, he ultimately came to an understanding and some kind of covenant.
[Keep in mind, though, that an enemy’s attempts are what define him - not necessarily the success or failure of those attempts.]
And now we come to Vayishlach. The long overdue and dreaded “reunion” of Yaakov and his estranged brother Eisav. Yaakov is scared. Very scared. He has good reason to be. [Scared, that is; he is faulted for the ‘very’.]
Does Eisav still want to kill Yaakov for taking the B’CHORA and the B’RACHA from him?
The night before the scheduled ‘face to face’, Yaakov is attack by someone whom our Tradition teaches, is the guardian angel of Eisav. So one some level, Yaakov is still in mortal danger from his brother. But the ISH who fought with Yaakov cannot beat him. The best he can do is injure Yaakov and cause him a temporary limp.
Nonetheless, one can imagine that Yaakov’s trepidation in meeting Eisav is increased by the experience that he has on the night before the meeting.
Yaakov prepares for the worst. He prays to G-d. He sends gifts to appease Eisav. He divides his camp to assure at least partial survival.
And then the brothers meet. Eisav seems genuinely happy to see his long-lost brother. Seems. He runs to Yaakov, hugs him, and kisses him.
Was the kiss sincere. Was it fake? Worse, was it an intended attack?
Our sources debate the issue. On thing remains constant - Eisav still hates Yaakov will continue to try to defeat him, one way or another.
We must never forget that Eisav is the grandfather of Amalek. That’s biological and, more significantly, of a shared goal.
We, the descendants of Yaakov Avinu, continually encounter the Eisavs of the world. They have different names in different generations, but they are frighteningly the same.
Hamas is Eisav and Amalek. Hizbola is Eisav and Amalek. The Iranian regime is Eisav and Amalek. And there are others, as well. And more than a few Lavans thrown in the pot. We need to improve ourselves as people and as Jews. This is a prime defense. And we must undertake many strategies to prevail against our enemies.
And what about the THEN in the title of this Lead Tidbit? The then is next week and the weeks after that. The THEN is our worst battles - the ones among ourselves. Yosef and the Brothers, sadly, also echo throughout the generations.

In This Issue of Torah Tidbits

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