This week’s Parsha describes our forefather Yaacov preparing for and then meeting up with his hateful brother Aisav. This is a precursor to what we are currently living through.
In fact, our great Sage, Rebbi Yehudah Hanasi, who committed our Oral Law to writing and authoring the Mishna, before he would meet with the hateful Roman officials, he would review this portion of the Torah to gain insight how to present, respond and negotiate an issue that pertained to the Jewish people.
The Torah describes that Yaacov did three things before meeting with Aisav. He prayed to G-d to save him and his family, he prepared for war in case Aisav would attack, and he sent him gifts to appease him.
We can certainly say the ‘gifts’ such as water, electricity and fuel that we sent to our enemies in Gaza, didn’t work, since we are at war.
We indeed are all doing our part by praying and adding prayers beseeching G-d on behalf of our soldiers, the hostages, the physically, psychologically and emotionally wounded, the tens of thousands that are displaced, and for the safety of Jews all around the world.
When it comes to the effectiveness of prayers, our Sages tell us that the prayers of school children are extremely effective because of their innocence from sin.
Recently, all day schools across the US joined together by phone hookup and livestream, and spent a half hour reciting prayers in unison.
There is a program called InKredibleKids headed by Morah Tziri Preis where 3000 middle school age kids across the US get together on zoom at 6 pm each night for ten minutes. They recite two Psalms, have a noted singer sing a song, and hear an inspirational story. This began after Oct 7th solely for the merit of our soldiers and captives and the safety of all of Klal Yisroel!
Mi Ka’amcha Yisroel – Is there any other nation other than us that does such things!
The Torah describes a dramatic event the night before Yaacov met Aisav. After Yaacov divided his camp in preparation for war, Yaacov went back to retrieve some small items – Levado – alone.
At this point he met up with the angel of Aisav and they wrestled with each other. Although the angel was able to injure Yaacov, who was eventually healed, Yaacov overpowered the angel. The angel blessed him and called him by a new name, “Yisroel” thus agreeing that Yaacov was the deserving one to receive the patriarchal blessings.
The Torah tells us that Yaacov was Livado – alone. Doesn’t this perfectly describe us? We are always alone. We are the lone nation that endured all the challenges we have been through for 3336 years.
Our lonely spot, as G-d’s children and the nation chosen to uphold His word and Torah, evokes jealousy which leads to hatred.
This horrific attack against us and our unsurpassed uniqueness in turning to G-d, contributing enormously with true care to other Jews, sets us apart from everyone. We stand upright and proudly recognize our exclusivity of being Livado – Alone!
When Yaacov had a strong hold on the angel of Aisav, the angel asked to be let free so that he could return to the Heavens and participate in the ritual of sanctifying G-d’s name. Yaacov asked him what his name was. The angel responded, “Why do you ask me my name?”
Commentators explain, that angels’ missions are continuously changing and they are called a new name for each of their missions. Therefore, it wasn’t of importance to share his name with Yaacov.
I came across an interesting and poignant explanation of the angel’s response which echoes the ills of today’s society. This angel representing Aisav is in fact our evil inclination who wishes to trip us up from the path that G-d wants from us. His name is actually… “Why do you ask me my name?” Which means that this angel’s evil and depraved influence lies within his name. He is stating, “Who are you to ask me my name and dare ask me what I’m all about?” The evil inclination empowers his subjects by instilling in them this notion that they are not subject to authority or accountable for their destructive actions or hateful and shameless ideologies.
The Torah tells us that our patriarch Yaacov overpowered the evil inclination. Yaacov instilled within each of his descendants that they have the ability to battle and win over the negative entreaties of the evil inclination by following the sacred laws, teachings and lessons of Torah.
Lastly, our Sages tell us that Yaacov went back alone to retrieve, ‘Pach’im Ketanim’ ― small jugs that he had forgotten. The same word Pach is familiar to us in the story of Chanukah. When the Macabees searched for pure oil, the Talmud tells us they found a ‘Pach Shemen – a jug of pure oil,’ which had enough for one day and it miraculously lasted for eight days.
Commentators explain that Yaacov’s going back for these small jugs was the impetus for the retrieval of the Pach ― jug of oil ― in the Chanukah miracle.
This shows us that no matter how small a positive act one does, its energy can generate miracles!