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The Systems of the Jewish Year

"In the Merit of Esav" - Comments

1 yehoshua on 2009 12 04

"We may ask: What did Jacob have to fear?”—Rav Haber.
Jacob was a fearful man.  In his commentary on Jacob’s concern that Shimon and Levi’s killing of the entire population of Shechem would have dire consequences for Jacob and his family, the Radak (Rabbi David Kimchi) writes:  “VeYa’akov Avinu haya mefached keminhago.” (And Jacob our father was afraid in his usual manner.) Fear held a prominent place in Jacob’s emotional make-up.  Even since he fled Beer Sheva, he was afraid that Esau would kill him.  Now he transferred this fear to the nations living in Canaan.  He thought that they would rise up against him in the aftermath of the events in Shechem.  Jacob’s fear is striking when contrasted with the state of mind of Jews living in Eretz Yisrael today.  Have the threats against us ever been more pronounced?  From Hamas in the south to Hezbollah in the north to Iran and its nuclear reactors.  Yet fear is not an emotion that plays a significant role in the lives of Israelis, who are too busy living to get caught up in “what if” scenarios.  We are taught to consider ourselves spiritual midgets when compared to the spiritual giants of Bereishit.  Yet, despite our puny stature compared to our ancestors, we are like the midget who, standing on the shoulders of a giant, can see further than his much taller companion.  Ya’akov had a right to be afraid since he was concerned for the safety of the fledgling family (not yet nation) of israel. 
We, on the other hand, have a history of three and a half millennia of perseverance against enemies no less dangerous than Esau or the Canaanite or the Perizite (whom Ya’akov feared).  We also have the benefit of a Torah that Ya’akov did not possess.  We know that, as the gemara states, the only barrier to the arrival of the Messiah is “shibud malchuyot” (subservience to the nations).  Shibud is not like avdut (slavery).  Shibud requires an internal compliance to foreign domination, whereas avdut is imposed externally.  Our progress towards Messianic redemption depends on our attitude towards the nations and not on their attitude towards us.

2 Jack on 2009 12 04

How can he be afraid at all about his family’s safety if he was blessed with shmirah (Bereishis 28:15)?
How does this answer what Rashi said, “lest he be killed ... lest he kill others”?

3 Shmuel Miller on 2009 12 04

Yasher Koach!

A beautiful insight into being makir tov.


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