VAYISHLACH 5782
Of angels and men

Yaakov makes his first step into the "boxing arena" He is injured because this is now reality.

Rabbi Yonatan Kirsch ,

Rabbi Yoni Kirsch
Rabbi Yoni Kirsch
Yair Yulis

Real Angels

In this week's Parsha, Yaakov sends messengers to greet his brother Esav (Bereshit 32:4). This is their first meeting since Yaakov had to flee for his life twenty-two years earlier.

Rashi (32:4) states a piece of information that may change the entire understanding of the Parsha--these messengers were not ordinary ones--they were actually angels.

Where does this commentary come from?

Yaakov's History with Angels

By looking back to last week's Parsha, actually only one pasuk before Vayishlach, we see that Yaakov met angels. Rashi explains (32:2) that these were the angels of Eretz Yisrael that came to greet him, exchanging their 'shift' with the angels from outside Israel.

In addition to this, Yaakov's dream in Bet-El was of angels going up and down the ladder. Rashi comments (28:12) that these were the angels that exchanged shifts to greet him and lead him on his journey.

In other words, Yaakov is surrounded by angels. This can show that he is a very spiritual man as he has "good forces" attending him and protecting wherever he travels. Perhaps, one may say that these represent the good deeds and Torah he achieved while spending those fourteen years learning Torah.

Are angels enough to beat Esav? Supposedly not.

Fighting an "Ish"- Man or Angel?

Before meeting Esav, Yaakov is forced to fight with an "Ish '', literally a man. Rashi states (32:25) that this was Esav's angel. After fighting all night, the man-angel, leaving Yaakov wounded and limping, has no choice but to bless Yaakov and admit to him that he is eligible and deserving of the blessing he stole from Esav (Rashi 32:27).

It seems that this was Yaakov's first time facing Esav face to face. This is the first step before actually meeting Esav and Yaakov had to succeed at it.

Every physical battle or war has a spiritual struggle behind it. This is represented by an "Angel''. Every nation has a spiritual power and force behind them. This could also be an ideology or an agenda. Before winning the physical war, the spiritual war needs to take place.

For a contemporary example, if we understand the justice of our battle against the Hamas, the military struggle would be rendered easier. On the other hand, the spiritual war cannot be INSTEAD of the actual physical fight. Yaakov makes his first step into the "boxing arena". No more running away or hiding. By doing this, he is injured because this is now reality.

Reality can also be a dangerous place-- it can hurt. But by doing this, in the end he is rewarded with a new gold medal- the name Yisrael.

Because you have commanding power with [an angel of] God and with men, and you have prevailed.

Now we are ready for the real meeting .

The Meeting with Esav

Finally, Yaakov meets Esav. At this moment Esav's hints to Yaakov about the angels that met him. Rashi states (33:8) that they beat Esav till he finally gave in and told them that he is Yaakov's brother. Esav finally admitted that the blessings belong to Yaakov (Rashi 33:9).

The Torah describes Yaakov as "shalem ''- whole and perfect. Rashi holds (34:18) that this description contains all of the dimensions of Yaakov- healed from the battles, financially whole, and spiritually pure.

So, in this journey of our forefather and at times also true for our personal journeys in life, we need to produce angels. We will need to build up our spiritual power and ideas. Learning Torah and doing Mitzvot is staying on the safe side. We might face battles of hashkafa and opinion. At other times, we will be required to face reality face to face, with real people and real opponents

Because you have commanding power with [an angel of] God and with men, and you have prevailed

Rabbi Yonatan Kirsch was born in NJ but grew up in Ginot Shomron after his parents moved to Israel. He teaches at the Hesder Yeshiva in Sderot, where he lives with his wife and family, after receiving his semicha from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. He is author of the book "Ma'alot Hamikve", published by Dabri Shir, and served as a combat soldier, is a certified tour guide.



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