וַיָּשֻׁבוּ הַמַּלְאָכִים אֶל יַעֲקֹב לֵאמֹר. מִיָּד וַיִּירָא יַעֲקֹב מְאֹד וַיֵּצֶר. לָמָּה שְׁנֵי פְעָמִים. וַיִּירָא, שֶׁלֹּא יַהֲרֹג. וַיֵּצֶר, שֶׁלֹּא יֵהָרֵג. שֶׁהָיָה יַעֲקֹב גִּבּוֹר. תֵּדַע, שֶׁלְּשַׁר הַגָּדוֹל רָפַשׁ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיָּשָׂר אֶל מַלְאָךְ וַיֻּכָל בָּכָה וַיִּתְחַנֶּן לּוֹ (הושע יב, ה). בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה הִתְחִיל מְבַקֵּשׁ רַחֲמִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: הַצִּילֵנִי נָא מִיַּד אָחִי. And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying … “He cometh to meet thee with four hundred men” (Gen. 32:7). Thereupon, Jacob was greatly afraid and was distressed (ibid., v. 8). Why is the word for “fear” repeated in this verse? He was greatly afraid that he might be killed and distressed lest he should be forced to kill. Jacob was an extremely powerful man. Proof of this is that he had subdued a mighty angel, as is said: So he strove with an angel and prevailed; he wept, and made supplication unto him (Hos. 12:5). But at that moment he began to plead for mercy, as it is said: Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau (Gen. 32:12).
רְאֵה גְּבוּרָתוֹ שֶׁל יַעֲקֹב, מַה כְּתִיב בּוֹ, וַיִּקַּח יַעֲקֹב אֶבֶן וַיְרִמֶהָ מַצֵּבָה. וְכַמָּה שִׁעוּרָהּ. אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן, שִׁעוּרָה כְּשִׁנָּהּ שֶׁל טְבֶרְיָה. See the strength of Jacob, as it is written: And Jacob took a stone, and set it up for a pillar (ibid. 31:45). What was the size of the pillar? R. Yohanan said: The pillar was as tall as the “Tooth (peak) of Tiberias.”
הִתְחִיל לָבָן אוֹמֵר לְיַעֲקֹב, וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבִיכֶם אֶמֶשׁ אָמַר אֵלַי לֵאמֹר הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ וְגוֹ', יֵשׁ לְאֵל יָדִי. אָמַר לוֹ יַעֲקֹב, אִלּוּלֵי שֶׁאָמַר לְךָ הִשָּׁמֵר, יֵשׁ לְאֵל יָדְךָ שֶׁתַּהַרְגֵנִי. בֹּא אַתָּה וְכָל אֻכְלוֹסֶיךָ, אִם יֵשׁ בָּהֶן כֹּחַ, יִתְגּוֹשְׁשׁוּ עִם אֶבֶן הַזּוֹ וִירִימוּהָ. וְהוּא הֵרִימָהּ מַצֵּבָה, כְּאָדָם שֶׁמַּעֲבִיר פְּקָק צְלוֹחִית מִן הַצְּלוֹחִית. וְאַף בְּנֵי יַעֲקֹב גִּבּוֹרִים כְּמוֹתוֹ הָיוּ, שֶׁכֵּן הוּא אוֹמֵר לָהֶם, וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב לְאֶחָיו לִקְטוּ. וְכִי אֶחָיו הָיוּ, חַד הֲוָה לֵהּ וּלְוַי קַבְּרֵהּ. אֶלָּא בָּנָיו הָיוּ וְהָיוּ גִבּוֹרִין כְּמוֹתוֹ. Laban said to Jacob: “The God of your father spoke unto me yesterday, saying: Take heed to thyself that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad (ibid., v. 24). Apparently I have the power to do either good or bad.” Jacob replied: “If He had not warned you to take heed, you might have had the power to kill me, but (now) come forward with all your people, and let us see whether all of you together have the strength to move this stone.” Jacob took a stone and set it up (ibid., v. 45). Jacob lifted the stone as easily as a man removes a stopper from a bottle. Jacob’s descendants were also as powerful as he. Scripture informs us: And Jacob said unto his brethren: “Gather stones” (ibid., v. 46). Actually, he had only one brother, would that he had buried him, but he did have sons, and they were as powerful as he.
כֵּיוָן שֶׁפָּגַע בְּעֵשָׂו מַה כְּתִיב בּוֹ, וַיָּרָץ עֵשָׂו לִקְרָאתוֹ וַיְחַבְּקֵהוּ, בִּקֵּשׁ עֵשָׂו לְנַשְּׁכוֹ וְנַעֲשֶׂה צַוָּארוֹ שֶׁל שַׁיִשׁ. לְכָךְ נָקוּד וַיִּשָּׁקֵהוּ, שֶׁלֹּא הָיְתָה נְשִׁיקָה שֶׁל אֱמֶת. What is written concerning his meeting with Esau? Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him (ibid. 33:4). Actually Esau tried to bite him, but his (Jacob’s) neck became as hard as marble. The word and he kissed him (ibid.) is dotted in Scripture, thus indicating that it was not a sincere kiss.5There are diacritical marks above the word ve-yishakehu in the Torah indicating that its actual meaning is not the literal “and he kissed him,” but “and he bit him.”
וַיִּבְכּוּ, לָמָּה בָכוּ. מָשָׁל לְמָה הַדָּבָר דּוֹמֶה, לִזְאֵב שֶׁבָּא לַחֲטֹף אֶת הָאַיִל, הִתְחִיל הָאַיִל לְנַגְּחוֹ, נִכְנְסוּ שִׁנֵּי הַזְּאֵב בְּקַרְנֵי הָאַיִל, זֶה בוֹכֶה וְזֶה בוֹכֶה. הַזְּאֵב בּוֹכֶה, שֶׁלֹּא יָכוֹל לַעֲשׂוֹת לוֹ כְּלוּם. וְהָאַיִל בּוֹכֶה, שֶׁלֹּא יַחֲזֹר וְיַהְרְגֶנּוּ. אַף כָּךְ עֵשָׂו וְיַעֲקֹב. עֵשָׂו בּוֹכֶה, עַל שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה צַוַּאר יַעֲקֹב כַּשַּׁיִשׁ. וְיַעֲקֹב בּוֹכֶה, שֶׁמָּא יַחֲזֹר עֵשָׂו וִינַשְּׁכֶנּוּ. עַל יַעֲקֹב הַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר, צַוָּארֵךְ כְּמִגְדַּל הַשֵּׁן (שה״ש ז, ה). וְעַל עֵשָׂו נֶאֱמַר, שִׁנֵּי רְשָׁעִים שִׁבַּרְתָּ (תהלים ג, ח). אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה הִפַּלְתִּי שׂוֹנְאֵיכֶם, וְלֶעָתִיד אֶתֵּן אָדָם תַּחְתֶּיךָ (ישעיה מג, ד). And they wept. Why did they weep? This may be compared to a situation in which a wolf attacks a ram. The ram gores the wolf with his horns, while the wolf sinks his teeth into the ram’s horn until they both cry out. The wolf cries out because he is unable to do any harm to the ram, and the ram cries out because he is fearful that the wolf might attack him once again and kill him. Esau and Jacob cried out for the same reason. Esau cried because Jacob’s neck had become as hard as marble, and Jacob cried out because he was afraid that Esau might try to bite him again. Scripture says about Jacob: Thy neck is as a ivory tower (Song 7:5), and it describes what happened to Esau: Thou hast broken the teeth of the wicked (Ps. 3:8). The Holy One, blessed be He, told Israel: In this world I cast down those who hate thee, but in the world-to-come I will place men beneath thee (Isa. 43:4).