Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  LifeLine
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Vayishlach

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken


"He [the angel] said, 'It will no longer be said that your name is Yaakov, but rather Israel, for you have contested with both the Divine and with man, and have prevailed.'" [32:29]

Some time after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the infamous Yevsektzia expelled the Jews from the synagogue in Tcherkov, and converted it into a social hall. [The Yevsektzia was a group of Jewish Bolsheviks dedicated to the secularization of Russian Jewry. It was they who were responsible for many of the Soviet decrees against Jewish studies.]

Rav Aharon Milikovsky addressed the congregation, discussing this tragic event, and he turned to this verse from our parsha. His explanation, while not necessarily a literal interpretation, certainly teaches a profound lesson which is applicable even today.

We must wonder, he said -- what great victory was this? We see that Yaakov was wounded in battle, and emerged limping on his thigh. The angel, as a spiritual being, was not wounded. So where was the victory?

Rather, we know that when two people are engaged in an intellectual argument, then the one who is correct offers proofs and intelligent contradictions to the other position. The one who is in error, however, should he refuse to admit it, will be left without intelligent proofs. Instead, he will fume with anger, shout and slander the other party (the ad hominem being the last recourse of one with nothing intelligent left to say). Sometimes, he may even resort to violence.

The argument between Yaakov and the angel, the ministering angel of Esav his brother, was certainly an intellectual argument -- an angel is an entirely spiritual being, and there is no way it could have a physical battle. If Yaakov emerged wounded, limping on his thigh -- then this indicates that the ministering angel of Esav could not subdue him with proofs, and Yaakov won the debate.

The situation, he concluded, is the same with us. We have an intellectual dispute with the Yevsektzia. If they must use force against us, it only indicates that the truth is on our side.

Today we know that truth was indeed with them -- the Yevsektzia faded long before the Soviet Union itself dissolved, leaving millions of Jews with no Jewish education, having experienced neither Rosh HaShanah nor Pesach, neither Purim nor Chanukah. Yet it is dead and gone, and we the Jewish people remain.

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Yaakov Menken


 






ARTICLES ON KI SEITZEI AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

Rosh HaShana - Of Creation and Our King
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

Rising Above It All
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

A Party to the Problem
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

ArtScroll

There is a Treasure
Rabbi Label Lam - 5766

Looking to the Future
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

Circumstantial Repentance
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5763

Looking for a Chavrusah?

To Do The Impossible
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

Hanging onto Holiness by a Thread
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5760

The Wayward Son - What Can He Teach Us?
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5758

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

You Can
- 5773

Hide and No Seek
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5761

The Custom of Eating Symbolic Foods
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

> The Mystical Tug of the Shofar
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5766

Battling Our Inner Enemy
- 5773

To Begin--to Cook from Within
Rabbi Label Lam - 5766

Future Judgement
Shlomo Katz - 5768



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information