Let me sing my song!

How can it be that Jacob blessed the angel whom he overcame?

Danny Ginsbourg, | updated: 07:44

Judaism 500-year-old Torah scroll brought from Yemen to Israel
500-year-old Torah scroll brought from Yemen to Israel

We read in our parsha, that ‘the man’-Yaakov Avinu’s protagonist- on seeing that he is unable to defeat him, pleads with him: (32:27) ’Let me go, for dawn has broken’- Rashi comments: ‘And I now need to say Shira’.

The Gemara expounds:(Chullin 91) ‘the man’ said to Yaakov: I am an angel, and from the day that I was created, my turn to say Shira did not come, till now.

Our Sages relate that this angel was, in fact, the ‘heavenly advocate’ of Esau, and was also the יצר הרע:the evil inclination.

And here we ask: Why does this angel only merit to say Shira before Hashem, when he is defeated? 

Answers Rav Eliyahu Dessler: the תכלית:the reason for which the יצר הרע was created, is that man should withstand its wiles, and by remaining faithful to the Torah and its mitzvot; he increases כבוד שמים:Hashem’s glory.

Therefore, when Yaakov defeated this angel, the angel fulfilled its destiny, and merited to be able to say Shira before its Creator, to give thanks for the זכות to be the ‘instrument’ of revealing Hashem’s glory, in the world!

The Rebbe Mahar’id of Belz, on this basis, explains the intriguing comment of Yonatan ben Uziel, on the words (32:30)’And he blessed him there’:’Yaakov blessed the angel’:Meaning that he should always be blessed for being defeated by Bnei Israel- that they should always be able to overcome his wiles.

Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch derives this same insight from the words of Hashem to Cain, after he becomes despondent that the offering of Abel is preferred to his offering (Breishit 4:7):’If you improve yourself, you will be forgiven; but if you do not..sin rests at the door; תשוקתו:Its desire is towards you, and you can conquer it’.

Explains Rav Hirsch: Hashem is telling Cain - and all of us - that the desire of the יצר הרע is ‘towards us’, for our good, as the word תשוקה always denotes love, not enmity- as in Shir Hashirim:(7:11)’I am my Beloved’s, and He מתחשק:longs for my perfection’.

And, out of its ‘love’ for us, the יצר הרע yearns that we overcome it!

May we always be worthy of this blessing of Yaakov Avinu, to overcome the wiles of the יצר הרע, and to bring glory to Hashem.