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		                                    Word Of Torah		                                </span>

Word of Torah

Parashat Vayishlach
Written by: Jason Schnissel

In this week’s Parasha Vayishlach we find Jacob on a journey. He was returning home, to the land of his father and grandfather. While his years living with his uncle Laban were fruitful and he built a large family and accumulated wealth things began to turn for the worse as Leban’s sons became envious. In the midst of this degrading relationship, God called out to Jacob and encouraged him to return to his birthplace. God obliged to be with him. And so, as we read in last week’s Parasha, Jacob began his trek.   
In returning home Jacob knew he would need to face his brother Esau who he had fled from many years prior. In anticipation of this reunion Jacob sent servants to let Esau know Jacob was on his way and to offer him some of Jacob’s wealth. These messengers returned and informed Jacob that Esau was headed his way with some four hundred men. Genesis 32:8 describes Jacob’s reaction;
            “Jacob was terrified. So anxious was he, that he divided the people with him – and the flocks, the heards, and the camels – into two camps”
Jacob reasoned that if Esau were to attack the first camp, the second could flee. In addition, Jacob prepared a generous offering of nearly 550 animals for his brother. On the eve of reuniting with his brother, we are told that Jacob spends the night alone wrestling another man till dawn. As dawn breaks the man asks to be let free and Jacob contends only if the man blesses him. The man replays be saying no longer will you be known as Jacob but as Israel., as you have struggled with God and human beings and have prevailed. The man then leaves.
The Talmud explains that it was not another man that Jacob wrestled with but rather an angel. With that interpretation aside, how often do we as human beings struggle during the night before a long awaited date. For me personally, I often will have dreams in the weeks leading up to an important event. Often times the dread that we feel in the lead up can be avoided if we do exactly the opposite of Jacob. In the past few Parashot we find Jacob running from his problems. First from Esau when he stole the blessing for the first born and then from Leban as that relationship soured. When forced to deal with Esau head on, Jacob finds himself struggling the entire night before.
Could have Jacob’s night of wrestling been avoided? I’d suggest, yes, but only if he had not ran from Esau in the first place. Ultimately, Jacob and Esau’s reunion goes off splendidly. The brother’s embrace and kiss. Esau refuses Jacob’s offerings and then accompanies Jacob on his journey. So the real lesson in this Parasha, family ties are most often stronger than the draw of material possessions.
Fri, December 13 2019 15 Kislev 5780