Divrei HaRav

Vayishlach / וישלח

Vayishlach / וישלח
The possuk says I delayed until now. Yaakov proclaimed his piety in the house of Lavan, "I kept the mitzvos", but ended his statement with the words, "until now". What is the meaning of the expression "now"? The Baal Haturim explains. Esav was prepared for war with Yaakov. He said, "if you are so confident, come wage war with me now". To this Yaakov answered with a prediction of the future contained in the letters of the word "atah" (now). The letter "iyin" is the seventy years of the exile of Bavel. The "tuv" is the 400 years of the "galus" Egypt and the "heh" is the five (thousand) years until the last thousand when the Moshiach will come to judge the mountain of Esav.

The Brisker Rav understood from the comment of Rashi "the camp will escape because I will wage war against Esav" that Yaakov was confident he could defeat Esav in war. Nevertheless he tried to avoid confrontation and opted for the other two choices, gifts and honor, or a peace settlement. From this, he concludes, the way for Bnei Yisroel to deal with the enemy is to first engage in dialogue before resorting to physical strength, even in a situation of superiority.

And the malach wrestled with Yaakov – Chazal tell us this was the minister of Esav who came to fight with Yisroel. They add, that so it is in every generation – the evil struggles with the holy ones for dominion. R’ Elchonon ‘z’l asks “why didn’t he come and fight against Avrohom and Yitzchok as he did with Yakov?” He answers that the Chazal tell us that Hashem will forgive and overlook all types of sins, from the easiest to the most severe. However, He will not forgive the sin of spending idle time instead of learning Torah. The reason, he explains, is that one can count upon the strength of the warrior in all cases, as long as he has his weapons. Once he loses his weapons, the war is lost. The Torah is the weapon of the Jewish people. Avrohom possessed chesed – kindness. Yitzchok embodied true service to HaShem. But, only Yaakov was the personification of Torah study, the weapons of the Bnei Yisroel. To this end, the angel put all his efforts into trying to disarm the Jewish people of their precious weapon, the Torah.

When Yaakov was rehearsing the language to be used by the messengers when talking to Esav he referred to his brother as “my master” and himself as “your servant”. The problem is that this was used even before the dictation of the exact message. Why was it necessary to belittle himself even before the message, in front of the messengers? The answer could be found in the statement expressed by Yaakov, “exactly as I spoke, you should say to Esav.” Yaakov meant to inform Esav that even when Yaakov spoke to the plain messengers, he was careful to give proper respect, showing his true obedience to his older brother. (Shai L’Torah)

A fascinating idea is given by the Chasam Sofer as to why Chanucah was not affixed as a day for simcha and seudos. In Seder Hadoros, the passing of Yaakov Avinu is reported as being the first day of Sukkos. If so, the seventy days of mourning ended on the first day of Chanucah. Therefore, the Chachamim did not see fit to establish it as a festive day.

The essence of Chanucah is days of Hallel to HaShem Yisborach. The only other action of mitzva we are commanded to do is the lighting of the menora. This is to publicize the miracle, but the main objective is the joy and Hallel. Every other Yom Tov contains an element of eating, drinking and physical enjoyment. Perhaps for this reason the Rambam chose to detail all the laws and customs of Hallel in Hilchos Chanucah, as opposed to another Yom Tov.



Previous Parshos

Tazria Metzora Achrei Mos Kedoshim Emor Behar Bechukosai Bamidbar Shavuos Naso Behalosicha Shilach Korach Chukas-Balak Pinchos Matos-Masei Devorim Voeschonon Ekev Reah Shoftim Ki Seitzei Ki Savo Nitzovim - Vayelech Rosh HaShana Haazinu-Yom Kippur Sukkos V'zos HaBrocha Breishis