Thursday, December 11, 2008

Doreish Tov on Medrash Rabbah Parashas Vayishlach 5769 (1)

Doreish Tov on Medrash Rabbah
Parashas Vayishlach 5769


The Medrash

The Medrash states that it is said (Bereishis 32:4) vayishlach Yaakov malachim lifanav, then Yaakov sent angels ahead of him. Rabbi Pinchas in the name of Rabbi Reuven commenced with the verse that states (Tehillim 17:13) kumah HaShem kadmah fanav hachrieheiu paltah nafshi meirashah charbecha, rise up, HaShem, confront him and bring him to his knees; rescue my soul from the wicked one, who is Your sword. Rabbi Pinchas said that five times in the Book of Tehillim Dovid arouses HaShem (so to speak). One instance is where it is said (Ibid 3: 8) kumah HaShem hoshieini Elokai, rise, up, HaShem, save me, my G-d. A second instance is where it is said (Ibid 7:7) kumah HaShem biapecha, rise up, HaShem, in Your anger. The third instance is where it is said (Ibid 10:12) kumah HaShem Kel nisah yadecho al tishkach anavim, arise, O HaShem! O G-d, raise Your hand, do not forget the humble! A fourth instance is where it is said (Ibid 9:20) kumah HaShem al yaoz enosh, arise, HaShem, let not frail man feel invincible! The fifth instance is where it is said (Ibid 17:13) kumah HaShem kadmah fanav, rise up, HaShem, confront him. HaShem said to Dovid, “Dovid, My son. Even if you were to arouse Me numerous times, I would not be aroused. When will I arise? When you see the poor being plundered and the needy crying out, as it is said (Ibid 12:6) mishod aniyim meienkas evoynim, because of the plundering of the poor, because of the cry of the needy.” Rabbi Shimon bar Yonah said, it is said (Ibid) atah akum, “now I will arise!” As long as the Jewish People are wallowing in the dust, HaShem, so to speak, will not arise. However, when the day arrives of which it is said (Yeshaya 52:2) hisnaaari meiafar kumi shivi Yerushalayim, shake the dust from yourself; arise and sit, O Jerusalem. At that time it is said (Zechariah 2:17) has kol basar mipinei HaShem ki neor mimion kadsho, “be silent, all flesh, before HaShem (Why?) for He is aroused from His holy abode!” Rabbi Acha said this is akin to a chicken that arouses herself from the dirt. It is said kadmah fanav, confront him. Confront the wicked one before he confronts you. It is said hachrieheiu, bring him to his knees, which can be interpreted to mean that you shall break him. This is like it is said (Ibid 20:9) heimah karu vinafalu, they slumped and fell. It is said (Ibid 17:13) paltah nafshi meirashah charbecha, rise up, HaShem, confront him and bring him to his knees; rescue my soul from the wicked one, who is Your sword. Yaakov said, “save me from that wicked one who comes with the strength of that sword,” as it is said (Bereishis 27:40) vial charbecha tichyeh, by your sword you shall live. Alternatively, “save me from that wicked one as he is Your sword with which You dominate Your world.” Rabbi Yehoshua diSichnin in the name of Rabbi Levi said, “save my soul from that wicked one who will ultimately fall by Your sword, as it is said (Yeshaya 34:5) ki rivsah vashamayim charbi, for my sword has been sated in the heavens. HaShem said to Yaakov, “Esav was going on his way and you sent him messengers and declared (Bereishis 32:5) koh amar avdecho Yaakov, “so said your servant Yaakov.”

Question on the Medrash

The Medrash implies that Hashem faulted Yaakov for sending messengers to Esav. What was wrong with Yaakov sending messengers?

The deeper intention of the Medrash

Yaakov certainly had great faith in HaShem. After engaging Lavan for twenty years to earn his daughters in marriage, Yaakov certainly knew how to battle wits with the toughest criminals. Was Yaakov merely afraid that Esav would kill him? It is difficult to suggest this as Yaakov was responsible for a large family and essentially there was nowhere for him to hide from Esav. It would appear, then, that HaShem did not fault him for his fear of Esav, however unnecessary his fear was. Rather, HaShem faulted Yaakov for even attempting to associate with Esav. Yaakov was later punished when he did not allow Esav to view his daughter Dina. Regarding Yaakov himself, however, HaShem decided that Yaakov should not associate in any form with Esav. The reason for this is because when Yaakov fled from Esav, he went to study Torah down the block. It would be difficult to say that Esav was not aware that Yaakov was studying Torah in the academy of Ever. Rather, the study of Torah is what protected Yaakov from the clutches of Esav. In a similar vein HaShem demonstrated to Yaakov that even while en route back to his father’s house, he would have the protection of the Torah, as the Gemara (Sota 21a) states that Torah protects a person even when he is not engaged in its study. Although one cannot be protected from death when not engaged in Torah study, Yaakov certainly had his mind on Torah constantly and this would protect him.

The lesson of the Medrash

We all study Torah every day, in some form or fashion. Do we ever stop and think how the study of Torah protects us from great calamities, Heaven forbid? While we study Torah because this is the will of HaShem, we must also be cognizant of the fact that Torah study protects us from all harm. This should encourage us in our study of Torah and allow us to trust in HaShem to protect us from any danger.

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