Last week, the Torah portion described how our forefather Yaacov went to sleep on Mount Moriah and had a prophetic dream. Our Sages teach us that the sun set earlier then its regular time so that Yaacov would go to sleep in that holy place.
The Chasam Sofer, Rabbi Moshe Sofer o.b.m. points out that the sun set two hours earlier than usual. The sun went faster not only in the area where Yaacov was, it affected the whole globe. Since the sun set early the shepherds herding their flocks in the fields had to scramble to navigate back in the dark, and the sun rose earlier than usual the next day.
When did the sun revert back to its normal course? The night before Yaacov met up with his hateful brother Aisav, the Torah tells us that Yaacov, while he was alone, wrestled with an ‘Ish – man.” Our Sages explain that it was not an ordinary person. Rather it was the angel that represented Aisav. During this encounter, Yaacov overpowered the angel and he agreed that the firstborn right indeed belonged to Yaacov and not to Aisav. The angel gave Yaacov a parting ‘gift’ and he struck Yaacov on his thigh injuring him and causing him to limp. The Torah tells us that the sun shone. Rashi comments that the sun with its therapeutic powers healed Yaacov. Additionally, at this point the sun rose early for Yaacov’s benefit. So here it was, some twenty years after the sun set early for Yaacov it corrected its motion and reverted back to its original position in orbit.
During this encounter the angel renamed Yaacov and called him Yisroel. The name Yisroel connotes one who is an officer – a distinguished person, one worthy of the birthright. G-d calls us B’nei Yisroel – the children of Israel. At various times when G-d communicated with our forefathers He told them your descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky. We are compared to stars for we are to shine and give global illumination through our conduct and contribution to the world.
G-d changed the normal course of the sun’s trajectory for one person, our forefather Yaacov. He didn’t ask for it, G-d did it for him because of the impact that he would have by creating Bnei Yisroel – G-d’s nation.
At times one may wonder what kind of impact a prayer, a good deed, or a nice word to another can accomplish. When we consider that we are the children of Yaacov and we are referred to as Yisroel – the name that Yaacov received when the sun rose early just to heal him – we realize what extraordinary power is invested in each of us through our prayers, deeds and to the Torah we study and adhere to. We can generate what we may think is inconceivable!
Before Yaacov’s encounter with Aisav he sent him a message telling him that until now he lived with Lavan. Yaacov was conveying to Aisav that he was not negatively influenced by Lavan’s deceitful ways and he remained faithful to the Torah by fulfilling the 613 Mitzvos of the Torah.
I met Rabbi Steiff who was a member of the Shul where my father o.b.m. was the Rav. He told me that he cherished an explanation my father gave concerning Yaacov’s message to Aisav. Yaacov was not just telling Aisav that even though I was in Lavan’s environment I still observed the Mitzvos.
Actually, Yaacov was telling Lavan the only way I was able to withstand and thwart off Lavan’s evil influence was because I observed the 613 Mitzvos of the Torah. Being involved in the Mitzvos and its study protected Yaacov from Lavan’s bad influence.
Yaacov was living before the Torah was formally given, yet it was the only way he found to protect himself from the bad forces of Lavan.
We, Yaacov’s descendants, were fortunately given G-d’s holy Torah. Adherence to the Torah is the only established method to safeguard us from the myriad of negative influences that wish to set us off our spiritual course.