Thought of the Week: Vayishlach - 5784

Our Stronger Than Iron Dome

Bereshit: 32:4-36:43

And Yaakov sent angels in front of him to Eisav his brother to the land of Seir to the field of Edom. And he commanded them saying; “So you shall say to my master to Eisav; So says Yaakov your servant; “I have lived with Lavan and tarried till now and I have oxen and donkeys and sheep and servants and maid servants and I am sending to my master to find grace in your eyes…” (Breishis 32:3-5)

And Yaakov sent angels: Real angels! (Rashi)

I have lived with Lavan: I lived (garti) is the numerical value of Taryag-613; as if to say I have lived with Lavan and I have still kept 613 Mitzvos and I did not learn from his wicked ways! (Rashi)

How did Yaakov get actual angels to act on his behalf? How was this group of angels particularly useful in defending Yaakov from the brutality of Eisav’s approaching army? What do we learn from the fact that Yaakov was able to direct authentic angels for his protection? Is this not only an indicator of Yaakov’s lofty spiritual stature?

The Nefesh HaChaim writes; “Every Jewish person should not say in his heart, heaven forfend, ‘what am I and what impact do my lowly deeds have in the world?’ Rather, he should understand that every minute detail of his actions, and his speech, and his thoughts, each and every moment is not lost! How powerful are his actions and very great and lofty too, for everyone according to the root of his soul, to impact and effect in the highest of heights, and the purest of lights. In truth, a man who is wise and understands this clearly, his heart will tremble within him a great shuddering when he considers his actions that are not good and how far they reach to destroy and ruin with even a slight misstep…”

Everyone has power to release angels, extraordinarily productive and destructive too! The Sefas Emes says that these are the angels sent by Yaakov, and that according to the Zohar there are angels created from both the Yetzer Hora and the Yetzer Tov! He states that the angels generated from the Yetzer Hora can have more protective powers than those created from the Yetzer Tov! How does that work?

It is written in Pirke Avos (2:4), “Make His will your will in order that He will make your will his will!” How do you get what you want, so to speak? Do what HASHEM – your supernal Partner wants as if it is your will and He will look to fulfill your will!” Fine! Now comes the second part which has direct relevance to our discussion: “Nullify your will for His will so that He will nullify the will others the will of others for the sake of your will!”

Fascinating! The first part is about “positive Mitzvos”- doing deeds! The second is talking about “negative Mitzvos”- refraining from doing! Doing brings the goodness we seek while “holding back” provides protection from frightening external foes! By resisting temptation, one creates a real super shield of protection for himself and others too.

The Sefas Emes emphasizes that these angels that Yaakov sent to Eisev were created during the time he resided by Lavan. It is no mistake that he signals to Eisav that he lived with Lavan and he fulfilled the Taryag, 613 Mitzvos, not only the 248 “to do” Mitzvos, but the 365 “don’t do” Mitzvos as well and that he remained unaffected by Lavan! 

This was not only Yaakov’s silent strategy for his survival but it is in fact our most secret of weapons today and is our stronger than iron dome.

  D’var Torah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam