Monday, December 5, 2011

Ha Kol, Kol Yaakov

This will be continuation of the essay from the last week, however I think it will explain some thoughts which may be not so clear at first glance. We will return to this topic IYH in the future.
“Hakol, kol Yakov; veyadaim, yadey Eisav.” Voice is for Yaacov; hands will be used by Eisav.
In nearly every generation since the destruction of the Bays Hamikdash (The Holy Temple), we understood these words as Chazal received it from Har Sinay: the realm in which Jews exist and operate is voice, teaching, thought. We quarrel, but with ideas, logic, analysis. We win with faith and proof. Even when we win, boasting is prohibited to us. Don’t boast over your fellow when you prove you are right, says the Pirkey Avos (Wisdom of Sages).
It doesn't even say when you prove him wrong—but rather when you are right. In our Jewish battles, we have to take under consideration the honor, the feeling of our fellow Jew, not to belittle him in any way. And this rule for our conduct operates only in the realm of kol: voice.
Most frum (devoted) Jews know of the Herem (ban) of Rabayni Gershom. Usually we think of the one which prohibits polygamy (otherwise permitted by Scriptures). None of us would even think about taking second wife, even if rabbi’s Gershom prohibition for thousand years, ended. Such is the power of his word.
Many of us know the prohibition of peaking at someone else’s correspondence is also issued by the same Rabaini Gershom. Not many of us know however that Rabaini Gershom issued other prohibitions, as well. One of them is that if a Jew hits another Jew, the attacker cannot be counted in a Minian (quorum of ten).
It was wrong to hit the Jew before his Herem too, but Rabaini Gershom, in his power of issuing law—a power given to him by Torah—denies the aggressor the elementary right of Jewishness: to be counted as a Jew.
In many places, Chazal teaches us that we should grasp the hints in the Torah, that it is not for the Jew to use physical force.
We know and we pray that our final triumph over the nations should and will happen when the teaching of our Torah will be understood by all and recognized as the truth. The whole Jewish history is an extreme demonstration of such a path: we survived not because of our number or military power, but because of our submission to the Book. This will be our ultimate Victory.
But Eisav? He chose different path. He learns how to use his hands. He arms them with ever more sophisticated weapons. He has no patience for discussions and all this Jewish hair-splitting. If Eisav wants something, he takes it.
His grandson Amulek went even farther. He loves the taste of blood, and kills for pleasure of killing. It is shameful, however, to show himself in this manner among his less blood thirsty cousins, so he will always try to find some lofty justification for his killings: e.g. freedom, justice, equality, egalitarianism, human rights, democracy and so on.
My birth country experienced this equality and justice, as delivered by Soviet tanks, but Soviets are not the only who represent this Amuleki trait. Our Sages teach us that the Angel representing and protecting the nations of Esav and Amulek is Satan himself.
The Sitra Ahra (the other side), the Yeitzer Haro (the Evil Inclination) is what those militarist nations represent in our earthly realm. And as we know, Haluha is that “Eisav soine Yisruel”—Eisav hates Yisruel.
Rav Hirsch in his comment on Amulek’s attack on Jewish children as they fled from Egypt gives this as the reason for the attack: Amulek felt threatened by very fact that the Nation using its Voice as a weapon exists; it is a living rebuttal to the Ameluki way. Only if the Jews are annihilated, H-SH, can Amulek justify his Darwinian philosophy (the physically stronger prevails). This Darwinian spirit triumphed already over the descendents of Adam in a span of two thousand years of nothingness (as the Talmud calls the years from Creation until the time of Avraham.)
With Avraham, the age of Torah began. It will end with the coming of Moshiach, which it is our task to prepare humanity for. It will happen only when we will be ready for both our leadership and the final Geula (Salvation).
Eisav is coming to meet his brother Yaakov. But he does not arrive alone. He has with him over four hundred mercenaries to put Yaakov’s camp in order—or rather flatten it to the ground.
Yaakov undertakes preemptive steps. He sends for his brother goods of great value; he divides the camp for eventual survival of at least half of his children; and he prepares for war. Chazal explain that it was rather preparation to flee in case Eisav attacked. Then Yaakov starts his prayer, a spiritual struggle which will result in changing his name to Yisrael: fighting for G-d, struggling with G-d.
The night before he is going to meet his brother is the crucial night in the history of humankind. Yaakov crosses the brook and he meets on the other side the Saar Eisav (the Angel of Eisav). They struggle whole night until the morning.
What is the fight about? What is Yaakov defending himself from?
This special night was described and explained by Chazal in various ways and with a deep meaning. After studying some of those commentaries major question arise. Our father Yaakov was a man of great wealth; we see that from the amount of gifts which he tries to appease his brother Eisav. Why didn’t he do what his brother did—hire mercenaries? Why not fight for his life and family with his own army of four hundred man? He had enough resources to do it, to pay even eight hundred thugs for that one decisive battle.
The whole history of the mankind would have been different. Esav would have been destroyed. No Empires, no conquerors or battles; no bloody wars; no subjecting nations from all ends of the planet and subjugating them; no soldiers humiliating fathers in the front of their children’s eyes; no senseless bloodshed to appease the gava (pride) of kings and politicians.
And finally for us, the nation of Yaakov, everything would be different if our father had gone to battle his evil brother. No expulsion from our land, no persecutions or pogroms, no inquisition, and no Holocaust. If only Yaakov had fought!
There is no question Yaakov was able to do it; he possessed all the physical means to fight. He was a Gibor (extremely strong man). Don’t we remember when he removed the stone covering the well, a stone which only group of people was able to move otherwise? Why didn’t he smash Eisav there, at the beginning of the history? So much pain could have been averted from his own children.
Eisav would be gone... but would be his spirit? It would be Yaakov whom history would describe as victor of the battle on the Yabbok Brook. Or maybe history would describe him as chieftain of the band of thugs who exterminated his brother with his army? We don’t know how Yaakov would be seen in such a turn of hypothetical events, but one thing we know: Yaakov would become Eisav.
His alternative was to give up the way of his father Avraham and his father Yitzchok, the way of peaceful conqueror of the hearts to G-d of morality and Shuloim, to Hashem Yisburaich. Or perhaps he might have chosen to combine those two modes of bringing people to ethical monotheism, like his uncle Yishmuel did in the far future? While there was less of Bechira (freedom of choice) for the nations that the descendents of Yishmuel conquered, Yishmael was more or less successful uprooting paganism from those lands.
We have no idea what nesion (challenge) our father Yaakov underwent that night, but we know if he had failed, there wouldn’t be Yisrael. This is perhaps what Angel of destruction was trying to convince our Father on the other side…
Matys Weiser

No comments: