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Home > Torah Portion > Dvar for Vayishlach

Torah Portion: Dvar for Vayishlach
Genesis 32:4-36:40

Dearest Reader,

Welcome, welcome, to the world of the short yet practical Weekly Dvar. If you didn't get a Dvar last week, thereby questioning the "weekly" status, please know that apparently there was a flood of junk Emails sent this past week, and most of the major providers decided to delete Emails waiting to be sent, so that their systems wouldn't crash. In the future, if you don't get the Dvar, write back, and then check for the actual Dvar (and other things). Please feel free to write back with more people to add to this, and with any comments/questions you may have. And finally....Enjoy!

Parshat Vayishlach records the meeting between Yaakov (Jacob) and his brother Esav, and the preparations Yaakov made in case Esav was still angry with him for stealing Esav's blessings. Yaakov split his camp and decided to move his family to a distant place. When he goes back to get the last of his belongings, the Torah tells us that he wrestled with a 'man', which commentaries tell us was the Satan (the evil inclination). When the angel realized he couldn't defeat Yaakov, he struck his hip, injuring Yaakov, but Yaakov wouldn't let the angel leave until he blessed him. Then the Torah says that he blessed him, but doesn't tell us what the blessing was. What was the blessing? Furthermore, what was the significance of hitting Yaakov's hip, making him limp from then on? Lastly, we know that angels can only be assigned one job per trip. If so, how could the angel fight Yaakov AND bless him? One answer could explain all these questions as follows: The angel, representing Yaakov's evil inclination, wrestled with him, but not for the purpose of hurting him. The whole point of wrestling is to defeat your opponent without necessarily causing actual physical harm. In effect, the Satan "struggled" to get Yaakov to give in to his temptations, but when he realized that he couldn't win, he resorted to physically injuring Yaakov. Why? Injury can potentially be used as an excuse for Yaakov to not perform certain commandments, since now it would be harder for him to walk/perform them. However, because of this injury WE are forbidden from eating the sinew that the angel hit, and that's exactly the blessing that the angel gave Yaakov: What could have been used as an excuse for NOT performing a Mitzvah (positive commandment), has itself BECOME a Mitzvah! Because of Yaakov's pain we now have a chance to perform another commandment by not eating that sinew in animals. So the angel's sole job was to give Yaakov this blessing, but Yaakov had to first turn it from an excuse to a blessing! We learn a very valuable lesson from this incident: True greatness is only achieved through adversity. Whenever we reach a challenge in our lives, we should remember not to use it as an excuse, but as a stepping stone to reach the next challenge, and even greater heights!

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