Vayishlach, Torah Ohr וישלח, תורה אור
1 א

The following is the way the Zohar and other Kabbalistic books explain the mystical dimension of the prohibition of this commandment. Man's various limbs are perceived as branches of the מרכבה in the higher regions The Torah has given us 248 positive commandments which correspond to each one of the 248 limbs of אדם העליון man's counterpart in the spiritual regions. Kabbalists speak of 248 angels bearing the name of their Master. These angels are perceived as the clothing of the שכינה.

2 ב

There are also 365 branches of דין, Justice, on the "tree" in the "upper regions," corresponding to the 365 days of the year and the 365 sinews of man. There is both a sinew and a negative commandment for every day of the year, and the ninth of Av is the day which corresponds to the prohibition of the גיד הנשה. Our sages saw an allusion in the extra word את in על כן לא יאכלו בני ישראל את גיד הנשה (Genesis 32, 33), to include תשעה באב [a day when any food intake is prohibited anyways]. They also included סמאל ויצה"ר Satan and the evil urge. Both the eating of that sinew and profiting from it in some other manner is prohibited.

3 ג

Neither Israel, nor any of its limbs could be defeated on any other calendar date, nor could any other sinew have succumbed to its adversary except the גיד הנשה. Only on that date was the power of דין strong enough to undermine the strength of Israel. On that date G'd abandoned us in exile, until a wind (spirit) will blow from the Heavens. Anyone who eats on the Ninth of Av, is considered as if he had eaten the גיד הנשה. That sinew contains five branches that have their origin in the right side of the emanations, and five branches which originate in the left side of the emanations. The combined total of ten corresponds to the ten forces of impurity which surround the מרכבה, the Divine Entourage, as is written (Psalms 12, 9) סביב רשעים יתהלכו, "The wicked walk all the way around it." The location of that sinew in the body is close to the male reproductive organ on which circumcision is performed. The forces of impurity within the body spread from that area. Anyone eating the sinew attracts such impurity to himself, seeing that one limb brings another in its wake. The word Nasheh means continuation. Not eating that sinew insures continuation of service to G'd. The prohibition of eating that sinew is the direct result of Israel's natural allergy to contact with the forces of impurity.

4 ד

Jacob's limbs and organs were all healthy; this is why the guardian angel of Esau who represents the forces of impurity could not overpower him. The only place he found in Jacob that was somewhat weak was the גיד הנשה. Kabbalists write that the penalty for people who eat the גיד הנשה and who fail to do תשובה, is that their souls will be resurrected in the body of a harlot, קדשה, who is also known as זונה נשכחה, an immoral woman who causes service to G'd to be forgotten. This is a punishment which fits the nature of their sin, for they had strengthened the forces of impurity, the evil urge. Such people will be hung in purgatory by their male organ. In view of these statements, we need to learn more about how the serpent and its evil influence began. The ability of the serpent to seduce is rooted in the power of Samael who rode it. Samael is the spirit of זנונים, lechery, whose lecherous feelings were aroused by the sight of Adam and Eve copulating.

5 ה

The serpent which used to walk on legs was punished by having its legs cut off. The thigh joint (to which the legs are attached) is within the domain of the sexual organs. Esau had the likeness of a snake as a birthmark on his thigh, as we have mentioned in Parshat Toldot. The Israelites, on the other hand, are holy, abstain from eating the גיד הנשה, and Bileam (Numbers 23, 23) testified already “כי לא נחש ביעקב, Israel is not infected by the serpent."

6 ו

The expansion of the גיד הנשה is the “מרכבה,” vehicle, of Samael in our world which touched, i.e. hurt, the thigh joint of Jacob. The Ari zal explains Genesis 32, 26: וירא כי לא יוכל לו, ויגע בכף ירכו, "When he saw that he could not overpower him, he touched his thigh joint," as referring to Jacob's descendants. Samael, the guardian angel of Esau, left his mark on all the צדיקים, righteous people, who would stem from Jacob, i.e. any generation in which Jews would abandon their religion, etc.

7 ז

The words ותקע כף ירך יעקב, "Jacob's thigh joint was disjointed" (ibid.), are an allusion to the negative effect of the destruction of the Temple on this earth on the Celestial Regions. G'd swore an oath that He would not take up residence in the Jerusalem of the Heavenly Regions until the Jerusalem on earth had been restored and He would be able to take up residence there.

8 ח

This concept is known to us as "the name of G'd is not complete, neither is His throne complete, until matters on earth are developing to G'd's satisfaction."

9 ט

Put differently: "what happens down here is called גיד הנשה. The Talmud speaks about גזרות קשות כגידים, decrees as tough as sinews." The sinews referred to in such statements are the branches of the גיד הנשה. This גיד is the "evil" sinew of the 365 sinews in our bodies because it strengthens the power of Samael, i.e. the power of Esau. The damage to the Celestial Regions is done in a single "day."

10 י

The word "day" in those regions is the one thousand years that Bereshit Rabbah 8, 2 describes as the length of G'd's day. [Because of this definition of "day," Adam could live almost one thousand years in terms of our days, though G'd had said he would die on the day he would eat from the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Ed.] The Zohar, commenting on Lamentations 1, 13: נתנני שוממה כל היום דוה, "He has made me desolate, I am in misery a whole day," states that this verse proves that when the destruction of the Temple was decreed, the exile was meant to last at least one thousand years.

11 יא

ויאבק איש עמו. We are taught in Chutin 91 that the choice of that word, i.e. אבק, dust, indicates that the dust stirred up during this struggle rose all the way to the throne of Glory -which is not complete, as we shall set out to show. The meaning of the word "he touched," is similar to the English "he touched a sore point." Samael had found something in Jacob's lifestyle which he thought he could turn into an accusation against him. This was the fact that Jacob had married two sisters while both were alive. He should not have done so, since the patriarchs had accepted for themselves the laws of the Torah which had not yet been officially formulated.

12 יב

Nachmanides writes about this at length in his commentary on Genesis 26, 5 where the Torah credits Abraham with having observed all of G'd's statutes. According to Nachmanides the patriarchs assumed this obligation as valid only while they resided in the land of Israel; the word מפשט used in the verse is by definition legislation that varies from country to country. G'd's משפטים apply only in G'd's country, ארץ ישראל. When Jacob married two sisters he did not live in the land of Israel. Samael's accusation was by necessity based on the yardsticks that Jacob claimed to live by. He argued that a man of Jacob's stature whose features were engraved on G'd's throne should not have taken advantage of the fact that technically he was allowed to marry two sisters, for did he not carry the atmosphere of ארץ ישראל with him wherever he went? We are familiar with such expressions as אבק רבית, something not actually an interest payment but nonetheless giving the impression that someone rendered a service for free which would have been charged for had the recipient of the service not been a lender to the person rendering the service. We have a similar expression when dealing with the laws of לשון הרע, evil gossip. The Tosephta Avodah Zarah 1, 10 describes four areas in which the term אבק is used halachically. All of them are not transgressions that are dealt with by the Courts, but are matters of individual piety. When the Talmud described the "dust" of the struggle between Jacob and the guardian angel of Esau as having risen to the throne of G'd, what is meant is that the issue was such a para-legal impropriety committed by Jacob as marrying two sisters outside the boundaries of ארץ ישראל.

13 יג

Since the commission of even such a "shade of an impropriety" can harm the public image of someone perceived as a צדיק, Jacob had to be punished. Dinah was raped, i.e. became someone's sex partner without benefit of the holy state of matrimony. Her brothers described such relations as only being conducted with a harlot, i.e. that only harlots were sexually violated (34, 31). The episode in which Reuben is described as having slept with Bilhah (35, 22) is also perceived as an indirect result of the flaw in Jacob's piety discovered by the guardian angel of Esau.

14 יד

To return to our main subject: that imperfections in this world are reflected by disturbances of the harmony in the Celestial Regions. The dislocation experienced by Jacob in his thigh joint had its impact in the "higher" world. If the episode foreshadows the destruction of the terrestrial Temple, it also foreshadows the negative vibes of that event felt in Heaven.

15 טו

Our sages state that the מצוה of ציצית alludes to all 613 commandments visually by means of the blue thread which symbolises the sea, which in turn symbolises the sky which in turn symbolises the throne of G'd (Jerusalem Talmud Berachot 1, 2 on Numbers 15, 39). Our sages also hint that the examples quoted allude to three distinctions Israel acquired as a result of its cleaving to G'd. Jacob achieved these distinctions first and Israel later on.

16 טז

Jacob attained the distinction of ים, seeing that he said of himself כי במקלי עברת את הירדן הזה, "Originally I crossed this river Jordan with no more than my walking staff." Bereshit Rabbah 76, 5 states that the crossing of the Sea of Reeds by the Israelites became possible through the merit acquired by Jacob when he crossed the Jordan on his way to Laban, relying only on G'd for he was bereft of material possessions.

17 יז

Jacob merited the horizon of the sun, (רקיע), that the sun set or shone especially for him, as we know from Genesis 32, 32: "The sun shone for him." Jacob also merited a special relation with the "throne" of G'd in that we have a tradition that his features were engraved on it. Jacob's descendants merited the same advantages in due course. They experienced that the sea was split for their sake, and they witnessed the "great hand" of G'd at work (Exodus 14, 31). Israel merited the “רקיע” when G'd descended to Mount Sinai traversing all seven Heavenly Regions each known as a different רקיע at the time He gave them the Torah, commencing His revelation with the words: "I am the Lord your G'd who has taken you out of Egypt" (Midrash Hagadol Exodus 19, 20 slightltly different wording). Israel's relationship with G'd's throne is alluded to in Jeremiah 17, 12: כסא כבוד מרום מראשון מקם מקדשנו, "O Throne of Glory exalted from of old, our sacred Shrine". The "throne" mentioned is the throne of G'd in His Heaven.

18 יח

The same prophet wrote in Lamentations 2, 1: (after the destruction of the Temple) ‘השליך משמים ארץ תפארת ישראל, "He cast down from Heaven to Earth the majesty of Israel." Our sages in Eycha Rabbah 2,2 commented on this verse: G'd said: "The only reason you have the audacity to annoy Me is the fact that Jacob's features are engraved on My throne; Here I fling it down in your faces!" At that point in time, the letter כ in the ירך of Jacob became dislocated.

19 יט

The three letters in the word ירך, thigh, are the respective first letters of the words ים, רקיע, כסא. The dislocation of Jacob's thigh joint is an allusion to the dislocation of G'd's throne. The numerical value of the word כף in the expression כף ירך יעקב, is 100. It is an allusion to the letter ק which is written smaller in Rebeccah's exclamation קצתי בחיי, in Genesis 27, 46. We had explained previously that that was an allusion to the destruction of the Temple as foreseen by Rebeccah. Allegorically speaking, if one removes the letter ק from Jacob's name, one is left only with יעב, meaning a cloud which blocks out the sun and the daylight. This is the deeper meaning of Jeremiah in Lamentations 2, 1: איכה יעיב באפו א-דני את בת ציון, "How has the Lord shamed (brought dark clouds) the daughter of Zion in His wrath." The prophet refers to the former distinction of Israel having been flung to earth. Continuing the allegory, Jacob, "concealed" the letter ע in his name when he crossed the river יבק, (which is יעקב minus the letter ע), as reported in 32, 23: ויעבר את מעבר יבק. The Kabbalists say that the remaining letters of his name, i.e. י-ב-ק stand for יעננו ביום קראנו, "May He respond to us on the day we call upon Him." The letter ע is "swallowed up," concealed in the word יעננו. Since the letter ע, when following the letter י, is practically not heard, it supplements the word יבק as if the former had been spelled יעקב. The expression יעננו ביום קראנו can then be perceived as a call by Jacob. I have elaborated elsewhere on the numerical value of the word ויעבור being equivalent to the Ineffable Four-Lettered Name being spelled in words i.e. 72 + 216, both permutations of the name of G'd.

20 כ

Samael's effectiveness in our world is through his nation which dominates Israel in exile due to its sins. He is thus able to cause a פגם, a flaw, in the harmony in the "higher" world. I have explained in פרשת חיי שרה that Samael has roots in the higher emanations (cf. page 133). I explained there the dual nature of Samael and how it is reflected in the word פלג-שם, the concubines of Abraham. Samael is at one and the same time an angel, something holy, and also the source of death, evil. Keeping this in mind, we can understand the statements of Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmeyni in Chulin 91 who says that Samael appeared to Jacob as a pagan, whereas Rav Shmuel bar Acha thought that Samael appeared to Jacob in the guise of a Torah scholar. These two views need not conflict with one another, Considering the impurity that radiates from Esau, Samael appeared like a pagan; considering the holiness that radiates from the angelic aspect of Samael, he appeared like a Torah scholar. Just as the features of Jacob are engraved on the throne of G'd, so the features of Esau must be perceived as engraved on Samael. More than once in Scripture are Torah scholars equated with angels, to quote only וישלח מלאך ויוציאנו, "G'd sent an angel and he took us out” (Numbers 20,16, the angel being Moses). Rashi, commenting on that verse, also quotes Chronicles 11, 36, 16: ויהיו מלעיבים במלאכי האלהים, "They insulted the "angels" of G'd," as referring to the prophets.

21 כא

At that particular time, Samael decided to don human garments in order to wrestle with Jacob physically. After Jacob had bested him, Samael concealed the evil part of himself and became a "good" angel. In that latter capacity he confirmed that Jacob had deserved Isaac's blessing and then himself blessed him. As soon as that happened, peace between Jacob and Esau was restored in our world. There is another mystical dimension to the love between Esau and Jacob, or to love generally. Under certain conditions the feeling of love for something may transform evil into good and the קליפה, unworthy outer shell, may be transformed into something sacred. This is the very dimension which enables people to convert from paganism to Judaism. Our sages have connected this phenomenon with the גיד הנשה, when they explained Genesis 32, 27 where Samael says: "Let me depart, for dawn has come." Chulin 91, has Jacob ask the angel: "Are you a thief or a gambler that you shun daylight? Samael responded that he was an angel and that from the day he had been created he had not had an opportunity to sing G'd's praises in the heavenly choir until that very day. Rashi interprets the word Kubiestous in the Talmud to mean "soul snatcher." [I have translated it as "gambler." Ed.] There is a profound meaning in Rashi's comment, since souls are viewed as oppressed and held hostage by Samael. The Zohar in Parshat Mishpatim comments on this subject.

22 כב

[Before quoting any part of that Zohar, it is necessary to understand that the whole paragraph at the beginning of פרשת משפטים where the Torah describes a father as selling his daughter into service to a Jewish "master,” is treated as being allegorical. The "father" is perceived to be G'd, the "Jewish maid servant,” a Jewish soul. The period of service, 6 years, and the significance of the seventh year is seen as the difference between different kinds of souls, i.e. whether those souls originated in the emanation, or rather super-emanation אצילות or in a lower emanation. A discussion between Rabbi Shimon and the "Saba" takes place, in which the latter differentiates between such nuances as the ordinary priest, the High Priest, etc, and he uses this as proof that souls too, though originating in holy domains, do not all originate in the same domain. The task of such souls on earth, when inhabiting a body, varies accordingly. The interested reader will be well advised to read the entire section of the Zohar from the beginning of the portion Mishpatim until the section quoted. Ed.]

23 כג

Now to the quote from the Zohar. "Here we have the secret of the souls who are 'violated,' forced into various types of reincarnations on earth. In this world all conduct is based on the mystique of the tree of knowledge of 'good' and 'evil,' i.e. the lowest of the emanations מלכות. When people in this world conduct themselves properly, the scales are weighted down on the right side, the 'good' side of the tree. When people do not behave properly, the scales on the left side of the tree, i.e. the 'evil' side, are weighted down. All the souls that at that moment are on the scales of the left side, Samael 'oppresses,’ i.e. acquires."

24 כד

In the discussion portrayed in the section of the Zohar between the "Saba" and other scholars [or scholarly books], the latter seem to hold that the souls that Samael gets hold of are those of righteous Gentiles as well as those of Torah scholars whose parents entered a forbidden marital union and begat such Mamzerim. The souls of such people are assumed to be subject to the power of Lilith or Samael. The other view holds that the souls that are "acquired" by Samael are the ones of people who have died as minors. No doubt both views are correct. Sometimes Samael acquires the souls of the former, on other occasions he acquires the souls of the latter. When Jacob asked Samael whether he was a thief or gambler that he had to shun daylight, he referred to the two situations possible. Lilith is the power that is active and exerts power only at night. When Lilith oppresses the souls at night and hands them over to gentile powers, this is the "soul snatching type of thievery" that is meant by Rashi. The souls that are being abducted are the souls of Jews who have died as minors.

25 כה

The premature death of minors is connected with the spiritual preparations a husband undergoes before sexual union with his wife. From every such [successful] union a soul is created, i.e. released from G'd's store of souls. If both father and mother at the time of their union were keenly aware of the sacred nature of the commandment they were performing, then the soul released from such emanation by the parents on earth will retain its original state of holiness and purity, if the parents failed to permeate their act of union with an awareness of the holy task they were performing, then that soul may be assigned to Lilith. This is what is meant by Job 3, 3: והלילה אמר הורה גבר, "And 'night' announced a male has been conceived." Our sages in Nidah 16 say that the angel that has been given domain over conceptions is called Laylah; when the parents have not sanctified themselves, however, Lilith oppresses, for the conception originated in the domain of זנונים, gratuitous self-gratification of the flesh. This brings us back to the weak spot in man, i.e. the גיד הנשה. Samael replied to Jacob that he was an angel and that the time had come for him to say שירה, i.e. praise G'd as part of the Heavenly Choir. He revealed to Jacob that at that time in his career as opposed to other times, he was performing the part that is considered the "good" part. Hence he could now join the choir.

26 כו

Jacob's two demands on the angel, 1) to bless him, and 2) to reveal his name, were based on the dual nature of Esau or Edom respectively in this world and of Samael in the parallel regions in the Heavens. When keeping this factor in mind, all the apparent linguistic problems, duplications in the text, etc. resolve themselves.

27 כז

On 32, 4: וישלח יעקב מלאכים לפניו אל עשו אחיו ארצה שעיר שדה אדום,"Jacob sent angels (resp. human messengers) ahead of him to his brother Esau to the land of Se-ir," Rashi comments that these were "real" angels. If that were so, it is difficult to understand Jacob making use of holy beings for a secular, totally private mission. He could just as well have sent human messengers! We have an explicit ruling that even nowadays, when the כהן cannot perform sacred duties due to the absence of the Temple, one must not employ a כהן to perform mundane tasks. How then could Jacob employ angels for such a purpose? (glossary of the Mordechai on Cittin).

28 כח

Why did the Torah offer two definitions of the land of Se-ir, i.e. "the land of Se-ir, the field of Edom?"

29 כט

Some commentators feel that by the reference to the land of Se-ir [seeing it alludes to hairiness] the Torah wanted to convey that Jacob had reason to fear Esau because of the hairy skins of the goats he had used to cover his smooth skinned arms when he misrepresented himself before his father in order to obtain Esau's blessing (cf.27, 16). With the reference to the "field of Edom" [the red one] on the other hand, the Torah alluded to the red dish Jacob had cooked at the time Esau sold the birthright (25, 30). Jacob now wanted to pacify Esau concerning both incidents. However, this is merely a homiletical approach to the repetitions we find here.

30 ל

The Torah continues its report with: ויצו אותם לאמור "כה תאמרון לאדני, לעשו, עם לבן גרתי".” Here we again encounter duplication such as לאמור, כה תאמרון. "He commanded them to say: Thus you shall say: 'I have sojourned with Laban.’" Why do we need twice "to say?" Why does Jacob suddenly omit Esau's title saying instead of לאדני לעשו, לאדני עשו? Previously he was reported as sending the angels to "my lord Esau;" now the Torah merely reports Jacob as telling the angels to address "Esau." Why the change in wording?

31 לא

Rashi offers two explanations of the meaning of the words: עם לבן גרתי. The two explanations of Rashi are almost direct opposites of one another. First Rashi understands the word גרתי as derived from the root גר, stranger, and Jacob stressed that he had not achieved a socially important position during all these years away from home. In his second explanation Rashi tells us that the word גרתי has a numerical value of 613, and that Jacob hinted that despite his prolonged stay in the house of a sinner such as Laban, he had maintained his religious tradition to the fullest, and observed all the commandments of the Torah. Rashi provides a dual meaning for Jacob's words even where the Torah had not bothered to make Jacob appear as if he were repeating himself.

32 לב

Next we read in 32, 8: ויירא יעקב מאד, ויצר לו “Jacob was very much afraid, he was distressed;" Rashi comments on this by taking a different approach from us. In verse 10 of the same chapter, Jacob spoke first about "the G'd of my father Abraham and the G'd of my father Isaac;" previously in 31, 53, however, he had spoken about פחד יצחק, as Isaac's G'd.

33 לג

Rashi gives two explanations for Jacob's statement: כי במקלי עברתי את הירדן הזה "For I have crossed this river Jordan with nothing but my walking staff." The two comments by Rashi again seem to contradict each other. First Rashi says that "I had no silver and gold with me, only my staff." Then Rashi quotes a homiletical commentary in which that very staff is described as possessing miraculous power to split the river so that Jacob might cross it. In the first explanation Jacob emphasized his inferior material condition, whereas in Rashi's second explanation the emphasis is on Jacob's spiritual powers and superiority.

34 לד

In 32, 12, Jacob asks G'd: 1) "Save me from my brother, 2) from Esau." Again an apparent repetition. Next he says that he is afraid that "he will smite me, mother and children." Why is the word "mother" in the singular? The Torah should have written: "mothers with their children." Bereshit Rabbah 76, 6 understands Jacob's words as an appeal to G'd who has written in His Torah "you must not take the mother bird (singular) together with the fledglings" (Deut. 22, 6). This too must be viewed as a strictly homiletical approach. Next we find a similar duplication when Jacob instructs the shepherds leading the flocks of gifts Jacob sent to Esau how to respond to the queries he expects Esau to pose. He expects Esau to ask: למי אתה, ואנה תלך, ולמי אלה לפניך? "Whose are you and where are you headed, and whose are the flocks that are ahead of you" (32, 18)? Why all this cumbersome language? Another duplication is found in the answer these shepherds are instructed to give Esau, i.e: לעבדך, ליעקב "to your servant, to Jacob." Had the reply been לעבדך יעקב, "to your servant Jacob," we would not see in this any form of duplication. The same kind of language recurs in verse 21, when the gift is described as לאדוני, לעשו, "for my lord, for Esau." Another peculiarity is found when the angel tells Jacob that in the future (at Bet El in 35, 9) he will be known as "Israel," suggesting that at this time he was still only "Jacob" (32, 29). We find, however, that in 33, 20 and 34,7 Jacob is already described as ישראל. Rashi comments on the former, that the name ישראל did not refer to the altar he had built, but that he employed this name as being his own. He built the altar to the G'd א-ל who had named him ישראל. This is strange since the Torah did not yet report G'd as having changed Jacob's name. This commentary does not take into consideration that the Torah reports the change of Jacob's name to be effective only after chapter 35, 10.

35 לה

If we accept the interpretation of the Talmud in Megillah 18, that we learn from this verse that G'd i.e. אל-הי ישראל, called Jacob “א-ל,” we have no problem: Jacob had already been renamed at the time the Torah was recorded in writing. We have to solve the difficulty in Rashi's commentary by saying that when the Torah reported Jacob as arriving שגם, "whole" in body, spirit and economic strength in 33, 18, that his thigh joint had healed, that he was free from both Esau and Laban, which were the troubles that Samael had referred to when he acknowledged that Jacob had fought man and G'd and prevailed When Jacob assumed the title "Israel" for himself, this was not an act of arrogance on his part, but on the contrary, it was an acknowledgment to G'd that his achievements were not due to his righteousness and physical prowess but to the blessing he had received from the angel (who represented Samael and who at one time had been the agent of forces called קליפה).

36 לו

Having said all this, this still leaves us with the problem why Jacob was referred to as ישראל, in connection with the rape of Dinah in 34, 7 where the foul deed was described as something that must not be perpetrated "in Israel."

37 לז

Let me now pursue my own path in explaining all the unusual phrasings in the text as listed earlier. According to the author of Bereshit Rabbah 74,4 the מלאכים sent ahead by Jacob were of the flesh and blood variety; unnamed other scholars claim that they were angels. Remember that the struggle between Jacob and his adversary occurred on two levels, the physical and the spiritual, with Esau in this world and with Samael in the Celestial Regions. The latter had an excuse to challenge Jacob's moral integrity for Jacob had married two sisters, as explained. We have mentioned that though Jacob had a legal excuse for what he did, it was not considered appropriate for a man of his stature, whose features were engraved on G'd's throne, to avail himself of such an excuse. Jacob's name on G'd's throne made a profound impression in the Celestial Regions. We know from the description in Chulin 91 that in Jacob's dream the two angels ascending and the two angels descending compared the features engraved on the throne of G'd with the features of Jacob on earth. They threatened Jacob's life because they found discrepancies between the respective features. As a result, G'd quickly intervened and placed Himself on top of the ladder in order to protect Jacob.

38 לח

Those Rabbis who declared that the emissaries Jacob despatched were angels, and those who claimed that they were human beings, were all correct. The messengers despatched on earth to report to Jacob on Esau's plans and attitude were human, whereas the messengers sent out to see how Samael felt were angels of the Celestial Regions. Jacob sent out angels to confront those angels who were jealous of his image being engraved on G'd's throne.

39 לט

Jacob's purpose in despatching human messengers down here on earth was to humble himself before Esau with words and to show Esau that he accepted him as master. This is why every utterance addressed to Esau was one of submission.

40 מ

The purpose of despatching angels to the Celestial Regions, on the other hand, was the reverse. There Jacob pointed to his moral and ethical merits, his moral superiority over his accuser, Samael. Jacob spoke very confidently and self-assuredly in his confrontation with his celestial accuser (Example: "I have stayed these many years with the wicked Laban and have maintained my spiritual integrity").

41 מא

It is even possible to understand the word מלאכים as the very merits which Jacob had accumulated. He "sent" these ahead of him to impress any would-be accuser in the Heavenly Regions. We have a tradition that every good deed in this world creates an angel, whereas every sin creates a destructive force. This idea is expressed in Isaiah 58,8: והלך לפניך צדקך, "Your righteousness will walk ahead of you." The word "in front of him" in 32, 4, may well allude to this, seeing that the word is apparently redundant. It would have been enough for the Torah to write: "Jacob sent messengers to Esau."

42 מב

The words ארצה שעיר, שדה אדום, allude to both the physical and the spiritual domain. ארצה שעיר is an allusion to Samael, whose share in the world is the שעיר, the goat or scape-goat, which is offered to him "as a bribe" on the Day of Atonement, as will be explained in due course, (cf. pages 265-6)

43 מג

Another reason he is called Se-ir is that Samael is identical with Satan, or the evil urge; to his people [those who are held in his sway, Ed.] he appears like a שער, as thin and insignificant as a hair. The message is that for צדיקים Mount Se-ir, i.e. the threat of the evil urge, looms large as a mountain, whereas for the sinners it appears as insignificant as a hair. To carry this hyperbole a little further: When the Torah described Esau-Edom-Se-ir as completely covered with hair, (25,25) this is an allusion to his being as full of sins as a fur coat is full of hair. When the Torah also described the destination of Jacob's emissaries as שדה אדום, it merely described Esau=Edom their destination on earth.

44 מד

ויצו אותם לאמור: כה תאמרון, These words introduce a single speech directed both at terrestrial Esau and at his celestial representative. To make this plain, the Torah employed the letter ל "to" twice; the word לאדוני refers to the celestial represesentative of Esau, the word לעשו, to Esau here on earth. We must not be surprised that Jacob addressed Samael as אדון, although he represented an alien deity. The address אדון was aimed at the holy part of Samael, for he originated in holy regions. The residue of that holiness still hovers over Samael.

45 מה

I have already indicated that this paragraph and the gifts to Esau described in it are to be viewed as similar to the scapegoat offered by the Jewish people to Azazel on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16,10). During that procedure, there similarly were two approaches. One goat was offered on the altar in the Temple, the other was consigned to a barren region and was killed by having its neck broken. The decision which goat was to serve as the scapegoat was determined by means of a lot. The very fact that the lot could have fallen on either animal means that each could have been chosen as the one to be offered on the altar. This proves that the impression was created that the servant (Samael) was treated on a par with his Master, with G'd. Jacob did something similar when he sent out gifts to terrestrial Esau. Esau assumed that the gifts were in his personal honour, and that he had been elevated, as it were, to eat at the King's (G'd's) table.- I will elaborate on this later.-

46 מו

עם לבן גרתי. Both the explanations we have quoted from Rashi are correct. The human messengers that went to meet Esau spoke humbly, submissively. They told Esau that in all those long years Jacob had not risen to a position of social or political eminence; he had remained an alien, and it was therefore not worth Esau's while to be envious of or antagonistic to a nobody such as Jacob had remained.

47 מז

The message that Jacob conveyed to Samael in the Celestial Regions via his מלאכים ממש, "real angels," however, was quite different. To Samael he stressed that in all the years with the wicked Laban he had not slackened in his observance of the 613 (numerical value of גרתי) commandments. By emphasizing that he had sojourned with Laban, he also hinted that any suggestion of impropriety committed on his part when he married two sisters was not valid, since this had occurred outside .ארץ ישראל

48 מח

ויהי לי שור וחמור . This statement has to be understood at face value when it was addressed to Esau in line with Rashi's explanation that, whereas in Isaac's blessing Jacob was promised "dew from the heavens and the fat parts of the earth," i.e. success as a farmer, he had in fact only acquired herds. Esau had no reason to be jealous, since that part of Isaac's blessing had not been fulfilled. The same words put in the mouth of Jacob's spiritual emissaries convey a different meaning, however. These words allude to a number of merits Jacob had acquired and that would accrue to him in the future. They correspond very much to Bereshit Rabbah 75,6 which explains that the word שור refers to the כהן משוח מלחמה, the priest who accompanied the troops into battle (Deut. 20,2). The Midrash bases this on Moses' blessing to the tribe of Joseph in Deut. 33, 17: בכור שורו הדר לו, "His firstling bullock, majesty is his." The word חמור is understood as a reference to the Messiah who traditionally is perceived as riding on a donkey, based on Zachariah 9, 9: עני ורוכב על החמור. The צאן, flock, that Jacob also mentions refers to the people of Israel who are repeatedly called צאני"My flock," by G'd in Ezekiel 34. The words עבד ושפחה also refer to Israel as the latter are alluded to in that manner in Psalms 123, 2.

49 מט

Other Rabbis in that Midrash add that the "ox" is a reference to Joseph, that the "donkey" is a reference to Issachar who is described in terms of a patient and hard working donkey in Jacob's blessings in Genesis 49,14. Joshua, a direct descendant of Joseph, would defeat Amalek in battle. The sons of Issachar, steeped in Torah study, know how G'd rules His universe. This is why the emissaries they sent to attend the crowning of King David are referred to as יודעי בינה לעתים, (Chronicles I 12, 33) "who know how to interpret the signs of the times." At that point in history they knew what was required from the people of Israel.

50 נ

The עבד and שפחה may allude to David and Abigail. A Biblical allusion is also cited for this. Thus far the Midrash.

51 נא

Jacob mentioned the merits of Israel as such, singling out a few individuals as examples of the outstanding people who would be part of his offspring. The reason he singled out David rather than Moses, although the latter too has been described as עבד ה' a true servant of the Lord, is because David or his namesake the Messiah is the ultimate purpose of G'd's creation, signalling a time when the whole function of Samael to act as an accuser would become defunct.

52 נב

There is a special reason why the Midrash chose Abigail to serve as an example of the merits that would be acquired by Jacob's descendants. I have found something on the subject in the writings of the Ari zal The latter comments on Hoseah 12, 13: ויעבוד ישראל באשה, ובאשה שמר. "There Israel served for a wife; for a wife he had to guard (sheep). I have mentioned elsewhere that Abgail was the mystique or re-incarnation of Leah. I have explained that during the first union of man and wife, the male deposits a spiritual essence -רוח- within the womb of his wife, something which does not leave the body of his wife even at her death. The implications of this idea are elaborated on by the "Saba" in the Zohar on Parshat Mishpatim (Sullam edition page 34). We can see that in the case of Jacob, who deposited this spiritual essence in Rachel, he did experience the emergence of a Benjamin, whose birth the Torah described in the following words: ויהי בצאת נפש כי מתה ותקרא שמו בנימין. "It happened when her soul left her, for she was about to die...she called his name Benjamin." [this is the version in the author's quote of the Ari zal; I am aware of the true reading in the Torah. Ed.] The spiritual essence which Jacob had deposited within Rachel was called “נפשה,” and became Benjamin. The spirit Jacob had deposited within Leah during his first union with her, however, remained within her, and eventually became Abigail. [This is an explanation of the theory that nothing is ever lost in this world, and that semen that does not fertilise will eventually perform its allocated task. When you pursue this idea in the Zohar you will find that the levirate marriage is based on the brother of the deceased being able to access this residue of his deceased brother's spirit in the womb of the widow of his brother's wife. Ed.] The child emerging from this spiritual essence was expected to be a male. Since however, "Israel had served for a wife," he found afterwards that he had indeed guarded sheep for "a woman."

53 נג

There is another explanation, basically along the same lines. We have already explained that Jacob represented the "beauty of Adam," i.e. a human being at its highest spiritual level. He guarded the flocks of Laban for twenty-two years. All this was in order to extract the two good "drops" (of semen) Laban had ever emitted, i.e the ones from which Leah and Rachel were born. These two drops of semen were the ones that were emitted by Adam and had become mixed with the semen which the serpent had injected into Eve when he had mated with her in גן עדן. [The serpent's part of the semen produced the likes of Laban. Ed.] Similarly, David, who was the re-incarnation of Adam, had to become a shepherd of the flocks belonging to Naval (Abigail's first husband) in order to extract from Naval another drop of semen which had not yet been fertilised, and was latent within Abigail's womb. This is the mystical dimension of Abigail. The original serpent, represented in David's time by Naval, who in turn was the re-incarnation of Laban, possessed the spiritual power to retrieve the spiritual essence Jacob had deposited within Leah. When David appeared on the scene of history, he took Abigail from Naval, [she became David's wife after Naval's death.] David had to guard the sheep of Naval, just as Jacob had to guard the sheep of Laban. This is the hidden meaning of Samuel I 25, 16: חומה היו עלינו גם לילה גם יומם כל ימי היותנו רעים הצאן. "They were a wall about us both by night and by day, all the time we were with them tending the flocks." Thus far the Ari zal.

54 נד

וישובו המלאכים אל יעקב, "The emissaries returned to Jacob." This refers to the human as well as to the spiritual emissaries. The spiritual emissaries told Jacob: באנו אל אחיך, "We have come to your brother, whereas the human emissaries told him: אל עשו, "To Esau."

55 נה

וגם הולך לקראתך, "He is also coming to meet you;" this was said by the emissaries sent to the Celestial Regions who reported about Samael. וגם ארבע מאות איש עמו; "and he also has four hundred men with him." This was reported by the human messengers who had been despatched to Esau.

56 נו

ויירא ויצר לו. "He was afraid and distressed;" the former was due to Jacob's fear that the accuser in the Celestial Regions might have come across sins committed by Jacob that he had not been aware of. He was also afraid that Esau's merit in having performed the commandment of honouring father and mother during all the years Jacob had not performed it might now support him. We find that Moses too was afraid before engaging Og, King of Bashan, in battle, fearing that the merit of Abraham might assist Og, as explained by Rashi on Numbers 21,34. [The merit of Og referred to must be that he became instrumental in Abraham saving Lot, by having told him that the latter had been taken prisoner, even though that had hardly been Og's motive, as Rashi himself explains on Genesis 14, 13. Ed.]

57 נז

Bereshit Rabbah 76, 1, quoting Rabbi Pinchas, understands our verse in a similar vein. "There were two people who had received specific assurances from G'd, and still they were reported as being afraid. One is the choicest of the patriarchs, Jacob, to whom G'd had said: "I shall be with you;" in the end we nonetheless find him afraid of his upcoming encounter with Esau, seeing the Torah says: ויירא יעקב. The other person was the choicest of the prophets, Moses. G'd had told him "for I shall be with you" (Exodus 3,12). Still, we find G'd had to tell him in Numbers 21: "Do not be afraid of him (Og)." G'd certainly would not have bothered to reassure Moses had he not been afraid, (though the Torah did not report this as a fact). Thus far the Midrash. From the above we have to learn an important lesson. If such outstanding people as Jacob and Moses had reason to fear success in a dangerous encounter due to some sin they might have been guilty of, how much more do we ordinary mortals have reason to be concerned about sins we may be unaware of. This fear of Jacob concerned the perennial accuser Samael.

58 נח

ויצר לו, "he was distressed," was the emotion that governed him vis-a-vis Esau. Afterwards (32, 10) Jacob prayed to the "G'd of my father Abraham and the G'd of my father Isaac who has said to me: 'return to your country and birthplace, etc.'" Rashi mentions that G'd had given Jacob two assurances, one at the time he had left his father's home at Beer Sheva, and the second when He told Jacob to return home and that He would be with him. On the latter occasion, G'd appeared to him using only the four-lettered ineffable name י-ה-ו-ה. The first assurance was clearly meant to reassure Jacob concerning his dealings with Laban and Esau, whereas the latter was to fortify Jacob against the fear of Samael. The very use of this name by G'd meant that Jacob had access to a dimension of G'd not available to the Gentile nations whose fate is guided by the attribute אל-הים, meaning agents or deputies of G'd such as the שרים. Jacob pointedly referred to both these assurances in his prayer.

59 נט

קטונתי מכל החסדים ומכל האמת. "My merit has been depleted by all the favours and the fulfillment of Your promises." According to Rabbi Aba in Bereshit Rabbah 76,5 the word קטונתי, means that Jacob felt unworthy of all the favours he had experienced at the hands of G'd. Rabbi Levi, however, feels that Jacob had felt entitled to receive favours, but had exhausted his merits by so doing. Both Rabbis are quite correct. Jacob's remarks expressed both his feelings vis-a-vis Esau and his feelings vis-a-vis Samael. Concerning his standing vis-a-vis Esau, Jacob expressed concern that the very favours he had experienced up to now might place him in a disadvantageous position, for Esau had not been recompensed for his merits. We know from Shabbat 32 that a miracle performed for someone draws on his accumulated merits. The Talmud derives this principle from our verse. Rashi understands the verse in the latter sense.

60 ס

We must conclude that Jacob appealed to G'd at this point to perform a miracle for him now too, in order to save him from Easu. When he invoked the four-lettered Name of G'd, we see a similarity to Psalms 20, 8: ’אלה ברכב ואלה בסוסים ואחנו בשם ה' אלוקינו נזכיר, "They (call) on chariots, they (call) on horses, but we call on the name of the LORD our G'd," for true salvation is G'd's domain. Not feeling morally entitled, Jacob pleaded with G'd to perform the miracle for the sake of His Name.

61 סא

Regarding his imminent confrontation with Samael, however, he said: קטונתי מכל האמת, he invoked his own specific attribute of “אמת,” as we have explained repeatedly in connection with Michah 7,20: תתן אמת ליעקב, "You will keep faith with Jacob." This attribute is a reference to the Torah which is known as תורת אמת, in other words the Torah was given to the people of Israel through this attribute of Jacob. According to the Kabbalists the Torah originates in the upper regions of Heaven, a region where the attribute of Jacob is at home. Jacob is described in the Torah as being איש תם, "a perfect individual residing in the 'tents' of Torah” (Genesis 25,27).

62 סב

The expression קטונתי, "I am too insignificant, too unworthy," may be understood better when we compare it to the last Mishnah in tractate Sotah 49, where we are told that after the death of Rabbi Yossi the “קטנותא,” there were no longer any men deserving the title "the pious one." If Rabbi Yossi was so pious, why does the Mishnah refer to him as "the little one?" According to Rashi the meaning is that Rabbi Yossi was the least pious of all the pious men preceding him. According to Maimonides it means that Rabbi Yossi was the "root" of all the pious men, and the root is by nature something that has small beginnings. Jacob then alluded to the process of attaining significance as being one that commences by one's being small, קטן. This is also why Jacob is popularly known as יעקב הקטן, "little Jacob." In his entreaty to G'd to save him from Samael, Jacob referred to this when he said: קטונתי. When Rabbi Levi said in the Midrash that Jacob meant: "I was deserving, he meant "but now I have become 'small' seeing that my merits may have been used up."

63 סג

כי במקלי עברתיח את הירדן הזה. Rashi understands this to be a reference to the fact that Jacob did not have either silver or gold with him. He used these words vis-a-vis Esau in order to convince him that he, Jacob, had not seen his father's blessing fulfilled, just as Rashi explained earlier when Jacob had acknowledged to be the owner of flocks, herds, men servants and maid servants. ועתה הייתי לשני מחנות, "now I have become two camps," was meant to also show that none of this wealth was related to the blessings bestowed on him by Isaac. Rashi adds a homiletical explanation, that the "staff" that Jacob had crossed the Jordan with was endowed with the power to split the waters of that river for him, and enable him to cross. This indicates that Jacob certainly had great merits. He wanted G'd to remind Samael of this so that the latter should not even entertain the thought of successfully challenging Jacob on moral grounds.

64 סד

We have a tradition that in this prayer Jacob invoked a number of G'd's Holy Names. The words כי במקלי, when split into כ-י-ב-מ, are an allusion to the name מכבי which amounts to 72, or the same number as the Ineffable Name spelled as words (יוד-הי-ויו-הי) That name of G'd is derived from the respective first letters in the verse: מי כמוך בא-לים י-ה-ו-ה, Next we have the letters קלי, which are the respective first letters of the verse: .לישועתך קויתי י-ה-ו-ה

65 סה

הצילנו נא מיד אחי, מיד עשו . The first half of this verse is addressed to G'd concerning the threat from Samael, whereas in the second half Jacob implores G'd to save him from Esau.

66 סו

כי ירא אנכי אתו, פן יבא והכני אם על בנים I have already mentioned earlier that ירא refers to concern over a sin or sins committed, i.e. the accusation that would be levelled against him by Samael. The specific sin Jacob had in mind was that of marrying two sisters. This sin in turn might lead to Esau being allowed to kill a mother with her children. Jacob alluded to Rachel as the mother who might be killed; this is why he did not speak about אמהות, "mothers." Jacob's sin, if any, was in marrying Rachel at the time he was already married to her sister Leah. Jacob's having married Leah was certainly no sin, neither could he be faulted for marrying Zilpah and Bilhah, though the latter were sisters of Leah and Rachel respectively. Since they were both only half-sisters, i.e. shared the same father with Leah and Rachel but not the same mother, and, according to Jewish law, we can never be certain of the paternity of pagans, they could not legally be considered "sisters" (cf. Rashi on Genesis 20,12 where Abraham explained to Avimelech that Sarah was his sister from his father's side).

67 סז

Should you want to know what relevance the question of Jacob marrying two sisters has, seeing that when a person converts to Judaism such a person has legally severed all former relationships, and the convert is considered as being a newly born person, we would have to answer that as long as the Torah had not been given, the Jewish people were part of the general human society and could not claim to be a nation totally distinct from all others. Leah and Rachel then were sisters from their mothers' side. Jacob did have reason to be concerned.

68 סח

G'd did not only accept Jacob's prayer, but it was Rachel's son יוסף הצדיק who became the antidote to Esau. The "mother" that Jacob had worried about as a potential victim of Samael, produced Samael's nemesis.

69 סט

ואתה אמרת הטיב אטיב עמך, You have said: "I will do good good with you." The word הטיב refers to the good G'd would do with Jacob on earth, whereas the word אטיב referred to the good G'd would do for Jacob in the "higher" world.

70 ע

ושמתי את זרעך כחול הים אשר לא יספר מרוב, "I shall make your descendents to be like the sand (on the beaches) of the sea, which cannot be counted because there is so much of it." The reference to the sand of the sea is to the increase of Jacob's seed in this world, whereas the words: אשר לא יספר, is a reference to the stars in heaven which cannot be counted, and to which G'd had compared the descendants of Abraham at the ברית בין הבתרים in Genesis 15, 5. This was an allusion to the stars and their power.

71 עא

Once the Torah has completed giving us details of Jacob's prayer, we next hear details about the gifts Jacob despatched to Esau. These gifts too were intended to placate Esau here on earth and Samael in heaven respectively. As far as the gift to Esau is concerned, the text is to be understood exactly as it meets the eye. As far as a gift to Samael is concerned, we must remember that when the Temple was standing the children of Israel would placate Satan each Day of Atonement by presenting him with the שעיר לעזאזל. What Jacob did was similar.

72 עב

ושאלך לאמור: למי אתה, ואנה תלך, ולמי אלה לפניך. These words too are simple and straightforward as far as the gift to Esau was concerned. As to their meaning vis-a-vis Samael and the forces Samael represents, we view Samael as roving the world looking to entrap man into sin in three ways.

73 עג

Rabbi Akavyah ben Mahallalel has warned us in Avot 3,1 to consider three things in order to avoid being trapped into sinning. When he said: "consider where you come from," this corresponds to the query Jacob assumed that Samael would ask: “למי אתה,” the second question posed by Samael, i.e. “ואנה תלך,” corresponds to Akavyah's "where are you going to?" The third question posed by Samael, “ולמי אלה,” corresponds to Akavyah's third question: "Before whom will you have to give an accounting?" The various מחנות, camps, that are encountered by Samael are collections of "sins," i.e. each sin has created a negative force, whereas each good deed has created a positive force, or "good angel." Jacob faces judgment for the מחנות מלאכי חבלה, groups of destructive angels, which his sins created, if any. Akavyah expressed this by saying: "consider before whom you will have to give an accounting." Any person who does not remember these three questions posed by Akavyah is undoubtedly a sinner. Samael searches out such people.

74 עד

When Jacob instructed the men accompanying the gifts to reply: לעבדך ליעקב, "they belong to your servant, to Jacob," the word “ליעקב,” was the reply intended for terrestrial Esau; the word “לעבדך,” was the answer intended to Samael's enquiry for whom the gift was intended. Samael is meant to accept our sins when we send them to him as a gift. This is the whole secret of the שעיר המשתלח, the scapegoat that is despatched to the desert and has its neck broken on the Day of Atonement. The author of Tolaat Yaakov explains the matter in the following words: "G'd has already let us know that He demonstrated His pity for His people by suggesting to us that we perform a number of commandments whose task it is to help save us from our "cousins" the sons of Esau who dwell in the land of Seir. One of these מצות is the urgent advice to despatch the שעיר לעזאזל.

75 עה

We must first understand what happened to Jacob in his fateful encounter with his brother Esau. Such happenings are symbolic of what happened to Jacob's descendants later. Jacob was able to marshall both prayer and gifts as a defence against his accusers; we, his descendants, bereft of the Temple, can only offer prayer, since the venue of sacrifices as well as of the scapegoat has been closed since the destruction of the Temple. Nowadays we compensate by prayer only, i.e. ונשלמה פרים שפתנו, "instead of bulls, we will pay with the offering of our lips" (Hoseah 14,3). Jacob engaged in prayer first; only subsequently did he ready the gifts. Prayer symbolises Jacob in exile, whereas the bringing of gifts symbolises Jacob after the rebuilding of the Temple.

76 עו

When the High Priest performed the service in the Temple on the Day of Atonement, he first confessed the sins of the Jewish people over the scapegoat. We read in Leviticus 16,22: "The scapegoat carries upon it all their iniquities unto a land which is cut off;" in the case of Jacob, the Torah writes: "He took from what had come into his hand, a gift for Esau" (Genesis 32,14). This corresponds symbolically to the sins with which the Jews had dirtied themselves throughout the year, and which were now presented as a gift to our "cousin" Esau, as will be explained.

77 עז

The Torah continues by listing the gifts in detail, commencing with עזים מאתים, two hundred goats, etc. Now we shall understand that what the Torah wrote later in Leviticus concerning the scapegoat was already foreshadowed in the days of the patriarchs. The first appearance of a male goat is on New Year's Day. There is a good reason why that animal was a he-goat, שעיר, and not a she-goat, עז. Kabbalists are quite familiar with the significance of this detail. Matters that originate in the spiritual emanation, (domain) of Samael, the domain in which impurity has its root, develop "downwards" (in the direction of our physical world) in a manner which constantly intensifies their degree of impurity. If the male goat was so named because it is covered with hair, and hair is symbolic of impurity, the female goat has correspondingly longer hair to indiate that it represents a more intense degree of impurity. Conversely, it is symbolic of the anger aroused in Heaven and of the vigour with which judgment of those guilty of such impurity will be pursued. The שר, agent appointed by G'd, is "king" over all these phenomena, his own impurity being of an entirely different nature. His position is closer to the Celestial Sanctuary than that of the forces of impurity further removed from their original holy source. Parts of that שעיר, i.e. Samael, must be perceived as smooth, other parts as hairy. He is not totally smooth-skinned because he contains elements of impurity; he is not covered with hair all over either, because his degree of impurity is not nearly as intense as that of his Satanic underlings in "lower" emanations of the left side. This is why Kabbalists have assigned a positive side to Samael himself, something which is not true of any of the forces that Samael controls.

78 עח

There is another mystical aspect to this which is used by בעלי כשוף, those that cast spells and practice sorcery. Their activities do not involve females and perversions involving females. In consideration of this we present Samael with a male goat, acknowledging the fact that he is king in a certain domain and has not wasted his strength on self-gratification of a sexual nature. We treat Samael as if he were still a "son" eating at his father's (G'd's) table. We present two he-goats on the Day of Atonement. Samael does not realise that this very gift serves to remove him from the Sanctuary, the Holy Regions.

79 עט

Samael's experience may be compared to that of Haman whom Esther invited to share the meal she tendered for the king. Haman believed that he received a great distinction, little realising that he was being set up for a fall. Our gift to Samael on the Day of Atonement is designed to produce a similar effect on him. Just as Haman left the meal with Esther and the king on the first occasion full of joy and self-esteem, so Samael reacts to our gift as if we had acknowledged his authority and the need to placate him. As a result, he does not feel that he could present accusations against people who had shown him that much honour (cf. Esther 5,9). G'd accepts Samael's testimony concerning the overall conduct of the Jewish people, and imediately grants them atonement. G'd "dumps" all of Israel's sins on to the head of Samael, who in turn distributes them amongst his underlings as described in Micah 7,19: "You will hurl all their (meaning "our") sins into the depths of the sea." Samael is viewed as the ruler of these "depths of the sea." Thus far the Tolaat Yaakov. Jacob's gift to Samael is to be understood in a similar way.

80 פ

At this point, the Torah describes how Samael revealed himself when we read ויאבק איש עמו, "a man wrestled with him." The whole paragraph up to and including the blessing that Jacob received from Samael in which he says that Jacob's name will no longer be Jacob but Israel, deals only with the past; Samael was capable of acknowledging that the accusations levelled against Jacob when he took the blessing intended for Esau were unfounded. He called Jacob "Israel," i.e. someone who had gained the upper hand in past encounters. We must certainly not imagine that someone like Samael would grant Jacob blanket recognition for the future.

81 פא

Jacob's right to be called "Israel" was conferred upon him only at Bet El in 35, 9. G'd gave Jacob a blessing at that time which was rooted in the source of all blessings, as I shall explain later.

82 פב

4 ,33) וישקהו ויבכו). Rashi quotes different opinions regarding the significance of the dots on the word וישקהו. Some sages in the Sifri believed that these dots are to alert us to the insincerity of the kiss by Esau, whereas Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai said (despite the fact that we have an ironclad rule that Esau hated and continues to hate Jacob), in this instance Esau's human emotions were stirred, and he kissed his brother Jacob wholeheartedly. I believe that both views are completely compatible with one another. We must view Easu here on earth as merely the counterpart of Samael in the Heavenly Regions.

83 פג

Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer chapter 46, describes graphically how the perennial accuser turns advocate for the defence of the Jewish people on the Day of Atonement. He extols the virtues of the Jewish people by comparing them to the ministering angels. The author relates an explanation by his own father who asked how Samael could compare the Jewish people to angels, seeing the latter are not composed of a variety of raw-materials as are humans. Not only that, but whoever has been appointed to be in charge of "good," should stick to his assignment, as Samael's task was to concern himself with "evil," why did he not stick to his allotted task? The answer is that any "good" that comes from Samael is ultimately "evil," whereas any "evil" that appears to originate from a "good" source will ultimately be perceived as "good." The advocacy by someone like Samael is nothing but a hidden accusation. The praises Samael is reported as heaping on Israel in front of G'd on the Day of Atonement, are designed to underline that if Israel but tries to, it can be as holy or holier than the ministering angels. Any failure to live up to such standards is proof of their delinquency. We see that Samael actually remained true to his colours, but he uses a more than usually sophisticated technique on the Day of Atonement.

84 פד

I have explained the word סם-אל as being composed of סם, poison, something harmful and of א-ל, something godly, i.e. good and wholesome. We can divide the expression מלאך המות, angel of death, similarly. The מות, i.e. death part of the expression is something negative, whereas the מלאך, i.e. angel part of the word is something good, positive. The good is mixed in with the bad. This is the mystical dimension of Esau's offer in 33, 15: אציגה נא עמך מן העם אשר אתי, "Let me assign you some of the people who are with me." There is a hidden reference in this to the proselytes and their influence on the Jewish people. Esau made this suggestion after Jacob had said to him in verse 14: עד אשר אבא אל אדוני שעירה, "until I come to my lord in Se-ir." Jacob's comment was a reference to Messianic times described in Ovadiah 1, 21, where Israel is described as ascending the mountain of Se-ir, home of Esau, preparing to execute final judgment on Esau. When we look at the respective last letters in the words אבא אל אדוני שעירה, we have the word אליה, as pointed out by Baal Haturim. This was Jacob's reply to Esau's suggestion for his people to convert to Judaism at the time the Messiah would arrive. Jacob hinted that we have a rule that we do not accept converts when there is reason to suspect that these converts only want to reap the benefit of a period of good fortune of the Jewish people (Yevamot 24). Jacob answered at the end of verse 15: למה זה אמצא חן בעיני אדוני The word חן is an allusion to the potential convert's motivation for becoming a גר, proselyte.

85 פה

ויעקב נסע סכותה, "Jacob journeyed towards Sukkot;" this is a hint that after the offering of the two he-goats (on the day of Atonement), Israel will observe the מצוה, i.e. holiday of tabernacles, which is symbolic of the סכת שלם, "the hut of completion, peace, fulfilment. This is also the meaning of 33, 18: ויבא יעקב שלם, "Jacob arrived intact."

86 פו

20 ,33) ,ויקרא לו א-ל אלוקי ישראל),"There he praised the Almighty G'd of Israel." According to the view of Rabbi Eleazar in Megillah 18, this verse tells us that G'd called Jacob “א-ל”; his reasoning is as follows: -If this were an appellation Jacob had given, then the Torah should have written ויקרא לו יעקב א-ל אלוקי ישראל. The Torah wanted to go on record that Jacob represents only the “א-ל” part of “סמאל”.

87 פז

When we view the struggle between יעקב, who was all א-ל, and Samael, who was only partially א-ל, it is natural that Jacob should have prevailed, i.e. כי שרית עם אלוקים ועם אנשים ותוכל, "You have contended with G'd and with men and have prevailed." This description of a dual encounter refers to the struggle with the terrestrial force of Esau on the one hand, and with the Celestial forces of Esau, i.e. Samael, on the other. The name ישראל fittingly reflects this dual struggle. It is a name conferred upon Jacob by Samael himself, an acknowledgment that Jacob was the bearer of Isaac's blessings. At Bet El, however, G'd Himself named Jacob Israel. Since that time the name Israel assumed an additional dimension, not just a justification of Jacob's conduct in the past. G'd changed Jacob's name to be exclusively Israel in the Celestial Regions in a distant future to signify that then he would triumph over other forces. In the meantime, however, he would bear both names, i.e. the meaning of the name implied by Samael. This is the difference between לא יאמר עוד שמך used by the angel (32, 29) and לא יקרא שמך עוד, used by G'd (35, 10).

88 פח

Now we see that Rashi too is correct when he said that Jacob called G'd "You are א-ל,” i.e. You are my G'd, because my name is ישראל. The same applies when it is used in connection with the rape of Dinah. At that time Jacob already, relied on the angel's promise that G'd Himself would change his name to ישראל. As ישראל. As long as the angel's prediction about G'd changing Jacob's name had not been fulfilled, Jacob still bore the marks of his nocturnal encounter with Samael on his body. Dinah's rape was the visible effect of the contact with impurity during the encounter in which Jacob's thigh joint was injured. One of his offspring, Dinah, became infected with טומאת מגע, impurity contracted due to contact with something impure, as a direct consequence of her father's physical contact with something impure.

89 פט

The Torah (34,2) describes the rapist as שכם בן חמור החוי. The word החוי is an allusion to the original serpent which is called חויא in Aramaic. We have explained earlier that this נחש, i.e. its power, is active within the ירך, reproductive organs of man, and that this is the connection with the prohibition of the גיד הנשה. Through Dinah's experience, and the incident with Reuben in Bilhah's tent described later in 35,22 (although our sages view Reuben's deed as symbolical rather than actual, Shabbat 55), any lingering vestige of the serpent's pollution was drained from Jacob, and after that his "bed" could be described as totally pure, or שלימה, in the parlance of our sages. It was at this point that G'd Himself bestowed the name ישראל on Jacob and blessed him.

90 צ

If we follow Rashi -who understands the words אלון בכות in 35,8, immediately before the report of G'd changing Jacob's name and blessing him, as a veiled hint that Rebeccah had died- it seems strange that Jacob would experience a Divine vision at a time when he was in mourning for his mother. We have a tradition that one does not experience prophetic visions except when in a state of joy (Midrash Hagadol Vayigash 45, 27). There is an excellent reason that Jacob should have experienced this revelation at the moment he mourned the death of his mother.

91 צא

I first have to explain something about the exalted meaning of the name ישראל, and also something about the name יעקב. On 32,29, Bereshit Rabbah "Your name shall no longer be Jacob but Israel," comments as follows: "This does not mean that the name Jacob was eliminated (as in the case of the name Abram), but it means that the name Jacob would henceforth be only subordinate to the name Israel” Rabbi Zecharyah in the name of Rabbi Chama adds that the name Jacob would continue to exist in any event, but the name Israel would lend it an additional dimension. Both these opinions are compatible with one another.

92 צב

Let me first relate an explanation I have heard about the well known statement attributed to Rabbi Yochanan, in Taanit 5 that "our patriarch Jacob did not die." The explanation I heard understands this statement not as something homiletical, but as the פשט. This in spite of the Torah having testified that Jacob's body was embalmed (Genesis 50,2-3). How do we reconcile the statement with the report in the Torah?

93 צג

Jacob had two names, Jacob and Israel. A person having more than one name implies that he commands additional spiritual powers. When Jacob mourned the loss of Joseph, part of his spiritual powers, i.e. the part associated with the name Jacob, departed from him because of the anguish he experienced. As a result all the spiritual powers that he remained with were the ones associated with the name ישראל. He experienced the loss of the spiritual powers associated with the name Jacob when the brothers took Benjamin to Egypt, an action which Jacob described with the words: "You have bereaved me already; Joseph is gone, Shimon is gone, and you would take Benjamin!" (42,36) At that moment Jacob's soul departed. If you will examine the text in the Torah, you will find that the name Jacob is not mentioned any more until he received the message that Joseph was alive. At that time the Torah writes: ותחי רוח יעקב אביהם, "The spirit of their father Jacob was revived" (45,27). In view of what we have just said, how can we account for the Torah's reference to the name Jacob in 45,25 where the brothers are reported as returning to their father Jacob? We may assume that when Joseph revealed himself to his brothers and they all experienced joy, the soul of Jacob began to revive. We see already then that Jacob experienced תחיית המתים, a form of resurrection, and therefore was not slated to die once more. The Jacob part of the Israel-Jacob personality remained alive forever. The body that was embalmed in Egypt and buried belonged to the "Israel" part of that combined personality. This is why the Torah reports in 47, 29: ויקרבו ימי ישראל למות, "The time of Israel's death approached." Jacob, however, remained alive thanks to the life-force נפש that hovered within his earthly shell. Nachmanides alludes to this in his commentary at the end of Parshat Va-yechi.

94 צד

The Tziyoni elaborates on the theme further. Here is part of his commentary: When our sages are on record that our patriarch Jacob did not die, they understood that his צורה form, body, was clothed in a manner similar to original Adam before his sin. Jacob spends his time roving around in this world trying to be helpful to his people. The meaning of this whole aggadic statement is that the souls of the other righteous people are bundled up in a domain of eternal life without donning any kind of "garment" which would make them perceivable in our world, except on rare occasions, some of which are mentioned in the Talmud. When the spirits of such departed צדיקים make their occasional appearance in this world, having donned some kind of "clothing" to make them visible, this is in order that they may perform certain tasks assigned to them.

95 צה

One such example is reported in Shabbat 152. Some people were digging in the soil belonging to Rabbi Nachman. In the course of their digging they disturbed the grave of Rabbi Achai bar Yoshiah who expressed his anger vociferously. The diggers reported this to Rabbi Nachman. Rabbi Nachman went to the spot and enquired who it was that had expressed this complaint. When he was told by Rabbai Achai that it was he himself, Rabbi Nachman quoted a statement by Rabbi Mori that the righteous return to dust in their graves, so how was it that Rabbi Achai was able to protest from the grave? Rabbi Achai answered: "who is this Mori whom I have never heard of? Rabbi Nachman then quoted a verse from Kohelet 12,7 stating that just as the body returns to dust, the spirit of the righteous returns to G'd. Rabbi Achai countered that whoever had taught Rabbi Nachman Kohelet had evidently failed to teach him Proverbs 14,30: ורקב עצמות קנאה, "only those who have jealousy in their hearts are subject to their flesh rotting away." The Talmud reports other strange phenomena of this kind upon which we will not elaborate. Jacob was able to don "garments" at will just as the prophet Elijah of whom hundreds of appearances in our world have been reported.

96 צו

Whenever the Jewish people are in dire straits Jacob "dons” garments and prays for them . This is what Rabbi Yochanan had in mind when he said in Taanit 5 that he bases himself on scripture (Jeremiah 30,10) "and you My servant Jacob, do not fear Israel; I will deliver you from afar, and your descendants from their land of captivity, and Jacob shall again have calm, etc." In this verse Jacob and his descendants are clearly both referred to as being alive.

97 צז

This is the key to the meaning of 32, 29: "Your name will not be said to be Jacob any longer but Israel." We must remember that at birth Jacob was named Jacob because his hand gripped the heel of Esau. Esau interpreted this as referring to עקבה, deception. He exclaimed in Genesis 27, 36: "Is he not rightly called Jacob since he has deceived me already twice?" There is a conceptual relation between what happened at the birth of these twins, what happened when Jacob bought the birthright, and again at the time he secured the blessing. At birth, Jacob did not want Esau to leave the womb first, for he, Jacob, considered himself the בכור, the firstborn. He claimed that distinction because Isaac's first drop of semen resulted in fertilisation of the ovum that would produce him (cf. Rashi on 25, 26). Jacob was thus within his rights then when he tried to retrieve what he had been deprived of by resorting to עקבה וערמה, devious ways and trickery. It was Esau who used deviousness already at birth, by forcing his way out of his mother's womb first. What he experienced later at the hands of Jacob was no more than מדה כנגד מדה, tit for tat. Jacob took a leaf out of Esau's book and "donned" Esau's kind of garments.

98 צח

After Jacob died and was resurrected his name "Jacob" assumed a different meaning. Jacob, i.e. "heel," or result, consequence, is an allusion to the eventual permanent world which follows on the heels of the transient world in which the Esaus and their kind feel at home. This is hinted at by Rashi in his comment on "He called his name Jacob," in Genesis 25,26. Rashi states there that the subject in the verse: "He called his name," is G'd Himself.

99 צט

At that point (33,20), G'd's own name applied to Jacob, seeing that after Jacob's "resurrection," what remained of him would be permanent, enduring. We can now understand these verses on two levels. 1) Part of Jacob would die first, and only the Israel part of Jacob would survive. This condition would exist until the news that Joseph was still alive. This is why G'd hinted to Jacob at the time when he mourned the death of his mother that he would experience a punishment for not observing the commandment of honouring father and mother during the twenty-two years he had remained at Laban's. As a matter of fact, Joseph's separation from his father, during which time his father continued mourning for him, lasted twenty-two years (as explained by Rashi on Genesis 37,34, where he refers to Jacob's statement to Laban in 31,41: זה לי עשרים שנה בביתך, "these twenty years I have spent in your house, etc."). Jacob explained to Laban that in the end he would be punished for not having left Laban's house much sooner. According to Rashi the words זה לי, mean that "this is my sin."

100 ק

The sin of not honouring his mother was greater than the sin of not honouring his father, since people would curse the belly of a woman such as Rebeccah who had produced an Esau. Nachmanides already pointed out that the Torah does mention the death of Deborah, Rebeccah's nursemaid, whereas it does not mention the death of Rebeccah herself; this was to prevent people from cursing the mother who had given birth to an Esau. Nachmanides believes that to report Rebeccah's death might have been in bad taste, seeing that her favorite son could not attend her funeral whereas her other son Esau hated her. Rebeccah's husband Isaac was blind at the time of her death and could not perform the last rites on her. It would have been insulting to Rebeccah's memory to have the Torah mention that she had to be buried by the local Hittites.

101 קא

Nachmanides claims to have found something along these lines in Devarim Rabbah on Parshat Ki Tetze. Rebeccah was buried at night in order to save her embarassment because her next of kin did not bury her. This is why Jacob named the tree אלון בכות, (plural instead of בכיה, which would have suggested weeping only for the death of Deborah). [I have not found this Midrash where it is supposed to be. Rabbi Chavell attributes this statement to a Tanchuma. Ed.] In view of these commentaries, we must understand the vision Jacob had at that time as a visit by G'd to Jacob in his capacity as a mourner; G'd simply visited him to console him over the loss of his mother Rebeccah. Knowledge of the fact that Esau was the only one who attended Rebeccah's funeral would cause people to consider Rebeccah as a source of curses. The Torah's main purpose was certainly not to confer honour on Deborah. This is what the allusions in our verse are all about. Thus far Nachmanides. [Actually there is more in Nachmanides. Ed.]

102 קב

We thus find that though G'd's blessing of Jacob-lsrael in 35,11 includes a very important prophecy, and accords Israel a hitherto unattainable level of spiritual achievement; conversely it also alludes to a penalty that he will incur as a result of the circumstances surrounding the death of his mother.

103 קג

2) When the Torah,-i.e. in the words of Samael- refers to the name Jacob as something that will no longer apply to him but that he will be called Israel (32,29), the reference is to the period after that mentioned in 45,27. Once Jacob's "spirit had been revived,” his name Jacob, when mentioned, had a different connotation. It was his father who had called him by that name originally, because he had held on to Esau's heel. His father had, of course, not entertained the thought that עקב meant something derogatory, such as deviousness. Isaac, when naming Jacob, had looked forward to the time when the Messiah would be king of mankind, a time when Israel would be in its spiritual glory.

104 קד

The meaning of the name "Israel" in the future envisioned would not only denote the fact that he had prevailed in a struggle between the forces of evil and of good. At that time, Israel would not compete with evil but with the most highly placed angels. The position of Israel then would be so exalted that angels would address halachic enquiries to Israel. Rashi has mentioned this in connection with Numbers 23,23: כעת יאמר ליעקב ולישראל מה פעל השם, "At such a time Jacob and Israel will be spoken to about what G'd's works are." [my translation reflects the commentary mentioned. Ed.] The name "Israel" also denotes something of eternal value. We have already explained that the first two letters 310-יש, refer to the 310 worlds that every צדיק and צדקת will inherit in the Hereafter, [based on להנחיל אוהבי יש, Proverbs 8,21 Ed.] The remaining letters רלא, are an allusion to the superiority of Israel over the angels, seeing that Israel possesses the merit of having observed the Torah which is based on 22 letters, (alphabet) These 22 letters are 231 gateways, i.e. the permutations constructed from the alphabet as explained in the Sefer Yetzirah.

105 קה

[The second Mishnah in the fifth chapter of the book explains how these permutations are worked; you combine the first letter א, for instance, with all the other 21 letters. The second letter ב, is combined with the remaining 20 letters. The third letter ג, is combined with the remaining 19 letters, etc. By continuing in this fashion you will arrive at a total of 231. Ed.] The name ישראל is a composite of יש+ראל. Jacob had seen an allusion to this already in his dream of the ladder, during the course of which he glimpsed the highest domain of holiness, a dimension of the World to Come. When he lay down, i.e. וישכב, the letters in that word are a composite of יש+כ"ב, the 22 letters of the Aleph Bet. We have elaborated on that theme in its place (page 222).

106 קו

When Samael named Jacob ישראל, however, that was not what he had in mind, and that is why Jacob had still suffered from the "touch" (ויגע) during the struggle with Samael even after he had obtained his blessing. This effect also expressed itself in the word וישכב, with which Shechem's rape of Dinah is introduced in 34,2 [It would have been sufficient to merely mention ויענה, "he violated her against her will," the word following וישכב. Ed.]. The same word וישכב is repeated in the Torah's description of Reuben's relations with Bilhah, his father's concubine, in 35,22.

107 קז

Subsequently, however, there was no longer any Nachash (in the sense of serpent) attached to Jacob [play on words of Numbers 23,23 כי לא נחש ביעקב where Bileam describes the virtues of the Jewish people], seeing the name Jacob referred to the World to Come ever since Jacob's spirit was re-surrected. This in turn represented an additional spiritual level over and above the one where G'd called Jacob "El," in 33,20. When G'd called Jacob "Isra-el," we must view the "Isra" as an additonal dimension to the title "El" that He had already bestowed on him. The numerical value of the word א-ל, is 10% (מעשר) of the numerical value of the word 310) יש). It is well known that the emanation חכמה, wisdom, is the one in which the concept of יש מאין, originates. The emanation חסד, on the other hand, is analogous to א-ל, and Jacob is the common line (common ground) between these two emanations. We have explained on previous occasions that Jacob is not to be perceived of as exactly in the middle between these two emanations, but that he inclines slightly in the direction of חסד. In the future, however, Jacob will elevate himself somewhat further until he can come close to the root of the emanation חסד, i.e. the emanation חכמה, also known as יש. When he reaches that domain, the angels will query: מה פעל א-ל? "What business does Jacob have in our domain?" [alternate interpretation of Numbers 23, Ed.] The angels ask this since they themselves cannot attain a presence in a still higher domain.

108 קח

This brings us to an understanding of the Midrash in Bereshit Rabbah 78,3, in which one sage said that the name Israel is the important one, whereas the name Jacob is merely auxiliary, whereas Rabbi Zecharyah said exactly the reverse. As long as the name Jacob was the name that portrayed Isaac's hopes when he called his son by that name, before it was changed by the angel, the name Israel became the name of foremost importance. All this was before Jacob "died" from the effects of Joseph's disappearance and the fear of what might befall Benjamin.

109 קט

Rabbi Zecharyah (page 270) on the other hand, refers to the period after the name Jacob had been revived because Jacob was revived. After that development, the name Jacob, representing also a life of infinite duration, became more important than the name Israel. A careful look at the wording in that Midrash reveals that whereas the first sage described the name Israel as the principal name and Jacob as merely "auxiliary," Rabbi Zecharyah did not speak of something "auxiliary." He defined the name Israel as "additional." This choice of adjective is appropriate, seeing it alludes to the additional dimension of spiritual content the letters 231=ראל added to the letters א-ל, as described. When the Torah spoke about the "days when Israel would die approaching," this was phrased so as to alert us to the fact that only Israel, but not Jacob was to die. When the Torah -through the mouth of Bileam- speaks about both Jacob and Israel in Numbers 23,23, this is because both names are used in their spiritual, eternal dimension.

110 קי

Having appreciated all the foregoing, we can now understand a statement in the Talmud Chulin 92, commenting on Hoseah 12,5: וישר אל מלאך ויוכל, בכה ויתחנן לו, "He contended with an angel and prevailed; the other had to weep and to implore him." The Talmud says that it is not clear who became “שר” over whom. When the angel implored Jacob to release him, it seemed that he implored Jacob, weeping. Evidently Israel then became שר over the angel. How then can the Talmud assume that the "Master" had implored the servant and wept?

111 קיא

We are dealing here with the dimension of "Jacob" as well as with the dimension of "Israel." First, Jacob assumed the position of שר, Master, vis-a-vis the angel. This is what Samael meant when he said: "You have fought with G'd and man and prevailed;" That aspect of the name "Israel" made him superior to the angel. However, from that development alone I would not have known that even the part of him that was still called "Jacob" could attain the spiritual level of the angels. This is why Hoseah said: "The angel wept and implored Jacob." [Hoseah speaks two verses earlier about Jacob as being punished by G'd, whereas he worked his way up on the spiritual ladder. Ed.] The lesson we learn from this is that even in his capacity as "merely" Jacob, the angel had to implore him, weeping. This was a preview of how things were going to be in the future. Both the names "Jacob" and "Israel" will reflect the highest spiritual achievements, higher even than those of the ministering angels, as we pointed out in connection with Numbers 23,23. Jacob's "victory" over an angel of the type of Samael will then be matched by his "victory" over angels which represent only positive spiritual values.

112 קיב

We have now explained this פרשה inasmuch as it refers to Jacob personally. We must remember that Jacob is also a symbol of his descendants. All the experiences of the patriarchs are viewed as forerunners of the experiences of the Jewish people as a whole. Nachmanides has demonstrated this in great detail.

113 קיג

Bereshit Rabbah 75,3, describing the gifts Jacob sent to Esau, quotes Proverbs 26, 17: "He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own is like someone who takes a dog by his ears." G'd is quoted as saying to Jacob: "Esau was pursuing his own personal designs and you had to send him gifts describing yourself as his servant!" During the second Temple the rulers of the Jewish people voluntarily entered into a political alliance with Rome, only to eventually be devoured by the Romans. This alliance was the beginning of the decline of Jewish independence. All the struggles between Jacob and Esau mirror what was going to happen later on a national scale.

114 קיד

Bereshit Rabbah goes on to comment on 32, 9: "If Esau comes to the one camp and smites it, then the remaining camp will escape." It is our experience in exile that when Jews are persecuted in the South, that they find relief in another part of the globe.

115 קטו

The "thigh joint" of Jacob that the angel "touched," is also understood as referring to Jacob's descendants. Just as Jacob prepared by sending gifts to Esau, he also prepared himself for that encounter through prayer and active preparations for war. Jews in our day and age behave in a similar fashion when confronting the descendants of Esau. Alas, our strength nowadays is confined to the power of prayer. In our situation fighting the Romans is not appropriate. Instead, our spokesmen must exhaust every other means to achieve better conditions for the Jewish people even if they are rebuffed by these rulers time and again. Thus our spokesmen fulfil Jacob's example which teaches us how to behave in exile. We have to conduct ourselves in this fashion until the arrival of the Messiah.

116 קטז

Bereshit Rabbah relates that whenever Rabbi Yannai had occasion to deal with the Roman Government, he would first study our פרשה. In order to survive in our lengthy exile we must employ the weapons of repentance, prayer and charity so as to mobilise the support of G'd on our behalf. The equivalent of "war" is repentance, which reflects the battle with our evil urge. He who can conquer his baser urges has proved himself to be a mighty warrior. This conditon will prevail until the prophecy that we will conquer Mount Se-ir will be fulfilled. The redemption will come as a result of repentance, as we know from: ובא לציון גואל ולשבי פשע ביעקב "The redeemer will come to Zion and to those in Jacob who have repented their iniquities" (Isaiah 59, 20).