Erev Shabbos VaYishlach 5781

A gitten erev Shabbos! This week’s parsha is Parshas VaYishlach, wherein Yaakov send malochim (angels) to Esav his brother when Esav is on his way to confront Yaakov. Though there is a Midrash where it says he sent bosor v’dom (flesh and blood) messengers, the other side coming from Rabanan states that they were malochim mamesh. There is a p’shat on this al pi chassidus that it means that Yaakov Avinu sent the Chelek HaGashmi (physical aspect) of the malochim – meaning that manifest aspect through which a malach speaks with a person, the Chomer (Form) rather than the Tzurah (Substance) – while the Chelek HaRuchni (spiritual aspect) stayed with him.

One of my associates in the early-morning kolel brought up an interesting kasha (question): why is it that Yaakov Avinu split up the beheimos (field-animals) and the people into two separate camps, wouldn’t Esav just take the animals and kill the people, regardless of gifts and how everything is split up? The teirutz that came to me in the middle of learning my normal seder I told over to him, and I thought it might be of interest to others.

So we have to break this down into the symbolism to get what the Torah is really trying to teach us. The “beheimos” are a reference to the Nefesh HaBahamis (Animal Soul) that the Tanya teaches us about, the people are a reference to the Tzelem Elokim (Godly Form) all people are created with, which is itself a remez to the Chelek Elokah Mimaal (Piece of God from On High) that is part of our souls. Esav, according to the Zohar HaKodosh, is the Pesoles HaDin (Dross of Judgement) that reigns on the side of the Sitra Achra to contrast with the pure Din d’Kedusha (Holy Judgement) of Yitzchok Avinu. Yaakov Avinu is the perfected Man in the place of Tiferes. When Yaakov saw Esav, that is when the perfected Man sees the power of the Sitra Achra, he puts forth the Beheimos, they being the Nefesh HaBahamis and the permitted pleasures symbolized by kosher animals – since Yaakov Avinu wouldn’t have tuma animals in his flock – to be taken by the Sitra Achra rather than letting the people of his camp, they being the holy neshomo in the image of God, to be harmed by the Sitra Achra. Ultimately Esav does not take the gift, and does not harm any of Yaakov’s camp, just as the Sitra Achra will be turned away when presented with the kosher pleasures a Jew may benefit from in this world, as shown in the secrets of the goat for Azazel, explained in the Zohar HaKodosh.

When we engage with this world and the things permitted for our pleasure with the intent to bring together the Shechinah and Hashem, expressed through the formula of the Mekubalim לשם יחוד קודשא בריך הוא ושכינתיה, we turn away the Sitra Achra and our Yetzer HaRa that are constantly trying to turn us away from avodas Hashem. This is only truly possible through existing in the state of Tiferes, that is balance, harmony, and beauty. Through delighting in the world with this intent, paired with learning Torah regularly with the intent of attaining d’veikus with Hashem, we lessen the power of the Sitra Achra in our personal sphere, as well as reduce its influence in the general world, as our own actions influence everything around us in the spiritual realms.

Taking this in consideration with the episode of Yaakov Avinu fighting the malach and getting his name changed to Yisroel, we can see a proof for Rebbe Nachman’s teaching us that the ultimate purpose for a Jew is to have reign over the malochim. Through converting our pleasures into avodas Hashem and attaining d’veikus through these, we can merit to wrestle with the angels and dominate them, utilizing their powers to our benefit rather than them damaging us.

A git Shabbos! We should merit to the geulah shleima swiftly in our days.

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