Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

13 Kislev 5766 - December 14, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
The Eternal Wrestling Match

by Rabbi Yechezkel Spanglet

Following his struggle and triumph in Lavan's home, Yaakov faces yet another major challenge in the shaping of his life and of his posterity: the confrontation with Eisov.

He prepares himself through three means: doron — gifts to placate Eisov, tefilloh — prayer to petition Hashem's assistance, and milchomoh — war, that is, establishing a military option against his brother.

Before the actual rendezvous with Eisov, Yaakov finds himself alone at the Yabok river. Suddenly, he is ambushed and attacked, as the posuk states, "And Yaakov was left alone; and a man wrestled with him, until the breaking of dawn."(Bereishis 25)

Who was this "man" who challenged Yaakov? And what did this confrontation represent?

Rashi explains that he was the guardian angel of Eisov. From the term "vayei'oveik" (he wrestled) in the posuk, which is related to the word avak, dust, the gemora relates, "R' Yehoshua Ben Levi said, This teaches that the dust of their feet rose up to the Throne of Glory."

Why is significance ascribed to the fact that their feet kicked up dust? What lesson are Chazal trying to impart to us by stating that the dust reached until the Throne of Glory?

The Rashba explains that "Throne of Glory" refers to the highest possible spiritual level. The "wrestling match" on that fateful day had major spiritual ramifications for Yaakov and his descendants.

Dust has an ability to obscure vision, to cloud the perception of events. Chazal teach us that Eisov's angel represents the embodiment of evil. Evil's mission is to obscure the fulfillment of one's holy mission on earth. Evil's dust of delusion causes major ideological doubts in one's mind.

Why believe in a Divine Kingdom of heaven and earth if one can rely on a theory which will lead to a life of "freedom" and decadence? Why accept G-d's mastery over mankind and nature, if it appears as if man can control events? Why accept the yoke of mitzvos with all of its "restrictions" if one can accomplish the same by believing in Hashem in his "heart"?

Eisov's dust storm ascends as high as the Divine Throne, attempting to eventually snuff out Yaakov's emunah. Yaakov, the embodiment of truth, battles all that Eisov's angel represents. He fights to clean and to illuminate, to remove the dust of doubt and falsehood.

The angel of Eisov represents the cleverest of arguments to mislead Yaakov from his course of absolute truth. But Yaakov remains steadfast. His mesirus nefesh and tenacious adherence to the values of emes and mishpat expose the fallacy of the angel's weltanschauung. By demonstrating inner fortitude, Yaakov provides the stamina for his children to triumph over the internal and external forces of evil.

Having accomplished this mission, he can now face Eisov himself. The Ramban notes that this encounter alludes to the Jewish people's ultimate emergence from all manner of persecution.

The battle between Yaakov and Eisov symbolizes that in all future exiles, Bnei Yisroel will be injured, and will suffer, but they will not be defeated. Despite the tears that are shed and the blood that is spilled at the hands of Eisov's children, Bnei Yisroel will eventually witness the victory of good over evil.

The lesson that we can glean from this is an inspirational one. In spite of the internal and external struggles, at times threatening to overwhelm us through the hands of Eisov, we can prevail; for our Father Yaakov fought a battle and emerged a victor.

The posuk states that the struggle between Yaakov and Eisov's angel concluded at the breaking of dawn. Chazal explain that this refers to the final Redemption.

The fulfillment of this period is also expressed in this week's haftorah from the posuk: "And the moshi'im (saviors) will ascend Har Tzion (Mount Zion) to judge Eisov's mountain, and Hashem's kingdom will be established." (Ovadia 1:21) The Radak explains that the moshi'im are Melech Hamoshiach and the seven ro'im (shepherds), that is: Avrohom, Yitzchok, Yaakov, Yosef, Moshe, Aharon and Dovid Hamelech. They will come to Har Tzion to judge all of the atrocities that the progeny of Eisov inflicted upon Am Yisroel throughout history. Eisov's descendants will confess their iniquities and accept upon themselves the Sovereignty of Hashem's Kingdom.

Then we will witness the night of the final exile — the one we find ourselves in now — fade into the dawn of the final Redemption. May it occur speedily in our days.

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.