Confrontations

Deep down in the hearts of all concerned, there is the fear that the last chapter in this struggle has not yet been written. 

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Rabbi Berel Wein,

Rabbi Berel Wein
Rabbi Berel Wein
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The long-awaited confrontation between the brothers Eisav and Yaakov occurs. At the onset Yaakov is quite concerned over the meeting. He fears that his brother, who is arriving with a band of 400 men, will undoubtedly intend to do him harm. And he knows that his brother is capable of slaughtering innocent women and children. There must have been a great feeling of relief that overcame Yaakov when Eisav takes the gifts that were meant to mollify him.

Yaakov is aware that this is only a temporary reprieve and that deep down in his heart Eisav has not yet accepted the fact that Yaakov is entitled to the blessings given to him by his father Yitzchak. Nevertheless, a temporary reprieve is also an accomplishment and the heart of Yaakov certainly must have felt lighter when Eisav departed richer than when he arrived. 

This struggle with Eisav is representative of the struggle of the Jewish people with the nations of the world over our long and painful history. There are ups and downs in the story, great tragedies and unbelievable suffering mixed in with lighter moments of tolerance, freedom and achievement. But, deep down in the hearts of all concerned, there is the fear that the last chapter in this struggle has not yet been written. 

The unreasoning hatred, of some in this world, of the Jewish people is one of the great mysteries of the human story. It is the oldest social disease and unfortunately it is still virulently present in today's society. And it may seem that Eisav cannot be easily bought off this time.

Yet, after all of the encounters that we have endured with the different forms of Eisav in our history, the rejuvenation of the Jewish people in our generations, especially in the world of Torah and in the achievements of the state of Israel is apparent. To a great extent we are witnessing a decline in the influence and power of the Church and of Western society generally. Eisav is losing whatever moral perspective is still retained from the house of his parents and from their connection to the Jewish people over all of the ages. 

As such we are witness to the fulfillment of the verse that Yaakov remained alone. There are no longer many who think as we do, that view the world and its history through our lense and perspective. Yaakov is accustomed to remaining alone. He has seen too many fads, ideas, and theories – social and economic – shine temporarily and then fade into the darkness of the past. 

It is better to be alone with truth and faith than to be part of the crowd of mockers and sycophants. The final chapter will show that the brothers would unite but under the banner of the faith of Yaakov. This is a process that requires patience and wisdom, items that are always in short human supply. But the promise made between the brothers long ago regarding the judgment of Mount Zion gives us hope and vitality to pursue their dream and make it come to reality.






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