The Ensuing Struggle


Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

18 Kislev 5767/8-9 December 2006


The historical encounter that we find in this week's parsha, between Ya'akov and the ministering angel of Esau, leaves us breathless and in awe. Its ramifications are felt to this very day. As the fight continues throughout the night, Esau’s angel, in a great last-ditch attempt to overcome Ya'akov, injures him by dislocating Ya'akov's thigh.

Our Rabbis teach us: The mitzvah of removing the “gid hanashe” from an animal is an assurance to the Jewish people that, although they will undergo much suffering at the hands of the nations, they will never be totally
eradicated. Just as the angel was unable to destroy Ya'akov and injured only his thigh, so, too, will the nations never uproot all of the Jewish people entirely, but inflict on them only wounds of a temporary nature. These will be cured in Mashiach’s time, just as Hashem healed Ya'akov.

Ya'akov, envisioning the long exile that his descendants will have to endure, prepared the way for the survival of the Jewish people, as we find in our parsha, by lavishing many gifts on the wicked Esau, and "kissing up" to him. Still, Hashem rebuked Ya'akov, as the Midrash teaches us; Hashem asked Ya'akov: "Why do you humble yourself before this wicked man and call him your master?" "Master of the Universe", Ya'akov replied, "I must flatter this wicked man so that he does not kill me." Hashem said: "Since you humiliated yourself before Esau, calling him 'master' eight times, I will grant him eight kings from his offspring before there will ever be a king in Israel!" Ya'akov turned to Hashem and said: "Let my conduct with Esau be a sign for the future; just as I did not send Esau all the herds all at once, but spaced them out, so let the exorbitant taxes which the nations will impose on my descendants be spaced out, for if the nations demanded them all at once, my children would be unable to bear the burden".

And as dawn began to break, Ya'akov forced Esau’s angel to bless him: "I will nevertheless refuse to dismiss you unless you bless me. What is your name?" The angel, in stunned bewilderment that he was unable to overcome
Ya'akov during the long night, says to Ya'akov: "Know, then, that your primary name shall no longer be Ya'akov, which denotes taking the blessing by deceit, but Yisrael, which implies that you have fought against celestial beings and mortals - Lavan and Esau - and you have prevailed."

In our times, we are seeing the transformation of the name "Ya'akov" to "Yisrael"; the end of the long and bitter exile and the beginning of the Redemption period, the time when the nations will acknowledge the blessings given to Ya'akov; the times when we will wrestle with the angels of Esau and Yishmael - and overcome. Still, in their last-minute attempts to overcome – as the angel of Esau tried to do by injuring Ya'akov's thigh - they continue to attempt to weaken and destroy us.

This week's proof is the ”resurrection of the dead”, as former secretary of state George Baker, who we all thought we were done with, came out and told the world that the problems in Iraq are, of course, because of Israel, and the latter must give away more of its land. It is in these times that we must stand strong and have new, strong leaders that will be worthy to be called "Yisrael", and to tell the Bakers of the world to go bake a cake and fly a kite.

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

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