Brilliant Stars

(Torah Portion Vayishlach) Brilliant Stars!

G-d communicated with our forefathers – Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaacov – likening their future descendants to various things. They were compared to the stars in heaven, to the sand by the seashore and to the dust of the earth.

Commentators explain that these three comparisons refer to specific eras and predicaments that the Jews will find themselves in.

We are compared to the stars in heaven during eras in history when everything goes well for the Jews. Then they will shine and illuminate the world with their devotion to G-d, like the plentiful stars in heaven. They will also be untouchable, like stars that are perched high in heaven and out of reach.

They are compared to the sands at the seashore at times in history when the mighty immoral societal waves come thundering towards the shore appearing as though they will inundate and flood the land. During these times, our morality, ethics and religiosity will serve as protective barriers shielding us as well as the rest of society.

We are compared to the dust of the earth during times in our history that we will be trampled upon by our oppressors. But just as dust is plentiful and cannot be destroyed, so too the Jews will survive and grow in numbers despite the hardships.

Rabbinu Bachaya adds the following twist on the comparison to the dust of the earth. When the earth is trampled upon, the dust rises covering those who trample on it. So too, those who despise, hate, attack and condemn us will eventually get their due.

Our Parsha relates an interesting incident. The night before Yaacov met his hateful brother Aisav, he had an encounter with the angel representing Aisav.

The angel appeared to Yaacov in the form of a person and began wrestling with him. Yaacov eventually overpowered the angel and the angel admitted that Yaacov was indeed the correct recipient of the birthright and Patriarchal blessings. The angel also added a name to Yaacov, calling him Yisroel which means an officer of G-d. Yaakov was wounded by the angel, and was subsequently healed by the rising sun.

The Torah states that they kicked up dust during their scuffle. The Talmud relates that the dust made its way all the way up to G-d’s Heavenly Throne.

Perhaps the idea behind this is that the struggle between Yaacov and Aisav’s angel portends all future battles that Yaacov’s descendants will have with those who harbor hate towards the Jews.

Just as the dust from Yaacov’s struggle with Aisav’s angel reached G-d’s Throne, so too, in the future, the struggles – pain, conflicts, crimes, war and horrors – that Yaacov’s descendants will endure from our enemies in dark and gloomy times, will not go unnoticed and ignored, rather they will reach G-d’s Heavenly Throne. Just as Yaacov was healed with the emergence of the sun, so too, at the appropriate time, G-d will shine forth deliverance, healing our suffering and redeeming us with the much awaited arrival of the Moshiach.

Reb Tzadok Hakohain explains that the term Aisav, represents the evil forces and energy that lead one to stray from G-d and spirituality.

Reb Tzodok explains that we learn from this episode that even if Aisav grabs hold of us and influences us to sink to the lowest levels of decadence, the strength and power of the inheritance we received from our holy forefather Yaacov who overpowered the evil forces Aisav, will assist us to rise from the filth and dust to higher horizons, for each Jew has an intrinsic spark of holiness that can never be doused or extinguished giving him the ability to reconnect spiritually and raise himself to lofty levels that reach G-d’s Heavenly Throne!

Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks