Friday, December 9, 2011

Parshas Vayishlach: Yaakov's victory over Esav


The passuk says in this week’s sedrah;
וַיְצַו אֹתָם לֵאמֹר כֹּה תֹאמְרוּן לַאדֹנִי לְעֵשָׂו כֹּה אָמַר עַבְדְּךָ יַעֲקֹב עִם לָבָן גַּרְתִּי וָאֵחַר עַד עָתָּה
“And he commanded them saying, ‘So you should say to master, to Esav, “So says your servant Yaakov, I have stayed with Lavan and I have delayed till now.”

  • Why did Yaakov have to tell Esav that he had stayed delayed till now, obviously he had delayed till now because this is when he was returning?
When Yaakov bought the bechorah from Esav, the passuk says;
וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב מִכְרָה כַיּוֹם אֶת בְּכֹרָתְךָ לִי
“And Yaakov said, ‘Sell me your bechorah like today.’”
  • Why did Yaakov specify that the sale should be like today?
When Yehoshua fought Amalek, Moshe told him;
וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בְּחַר לָנוּ אֲנָשִׁים וְצֵא הִלָּחֵם בַּעֲמָלֵק מָחָר אָנֹכִי נִצָּב עַל רֹאשׁ הַגִּבְעָה
The gemara says in Yuma (52) that this is one of five pessukim in the Torah where it is indeterminate how the passuk should be read. You can either read the passuk;
“And Moshe said to Yehoshua, ‘Choose men for us and go and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the hill…”
or you can read the passuk
“And Moshe said to Yehoshua, ‘Choose men for us and go and fight with Amalek tomorrow. I will stand on the hill…”
  • Why is there no one absolute way to read this passuk?

Rb Yitzchak Hutner z”l explains as follows;
The medrash says that Yaakov and Esav divided olam habah and olam hazeh between them. Yaakov took olam habah and Esav took olam hazeh. Therefore Yaakov’s complete victory over Esav only comes with mashiach, as Yaakov said to Esav;
יעבור נא אדוני לפני עבדו ואני אתנהלה לאיטי לרגל המלאכה אשרלפני ולרגל הילדים עד אשר אבוא אל אדוני שעירה
“Let my master pass before his servant and I will travel slowly at the pace of the work before me and at the pace of the children until I come to my master to Seir.”

Rashi explains;
ואימתי ילך בימי המשיח שנאמר (עובדיה א) ועלו מושיעים בהר ציון לשפוט את הר עשו
“When will he go? In the times of Mashiach as the passuk says, ‘And saviours will go up on the mountain of Tzion to judge the mountain of Esav.’”

Therefore the success of the benei yisrael in olam hazeh depends on the degree to which the benei yisrael connect themselves to the yemos hamoshiach. Whereas Esav’s success lies in the present in olam hazeh, Yaakov’s success lies in the degree to which he connects himself to the future machar of the mashiach.
  • Yehoshua’s victory in the battle against Amalek depended on the extent to which the benei yisrael would connect themselves to the machar of mashiach, therefore the passuk which refers to machar is indeterminate.
Moshe said, if you can fight with an attitude of machar – then you will win. If not, then Amalek will win. The reading of the passuk is indeterminate because this itself was the battle: Would the machar of the benei yisrael win or would the hayom of Amalek win?

  • When Yaakov bought bechorah from Esav he specified that the sale was kayom – like today. Yaakov did not buy the bechorah on Yaakov’s terms of machar – that the sale would only take effect when mashiach came – instead he entered Esav’s jurisdiction and bought the bechorah from him even in olam hazeh – so he said kayom – it is a sale of ‘today’.
  • This is also why Yaakov told Esav that he had tarried till now. The victory of Yaakov over Esav comes from Yaakov connecting himself to the future more than to the present. Yaakov told Esav – until now I have had to run away from you because I was only Yaakov and had not come to be klal yisrael who would merit the coming of mashiach. But now I have become the camp of the benei yisrael and therefore I merit the coming of mashiach in the merit I will eventually overcome you, as the passuk says - ועלו מושיעים בהר ציון לשפוט את הר עשו

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