FROM THE RABBI’S DESK – VAYISHLACH: דברי הרב
It does not take long for Jacob to recover from his injury to his sciatic nerve which he suffers as a result of his confrontation with the angel of Esau. The Torah relates that he is shalem, or complete, prompting the rabbis to state that Jacob is complete in his physical recovery, his wealth and his religious faith.
If we were to examine the above rabbinic statement as a reference point to Jewish children, we find similar aspirations applicable to them. We want our children and grandchildren to be safe and physically well. We want them to be secure in their pursuit of their goals in life, be they professional or familial, and we want them to be strongly committed to their faith.
Our children and we are the Bene Yisrael, the sons and daughters of Israel or Jacob. We are not normally called the children of Abraham or Isaac, but of Jacob. Unlike Ishmael and Esau, the children of Jacob do not pursue other avenues of religious faith, although their father condemns the behaviour of those who are involved in the massacre of the inhabitants of Shechem. Though sibling rivalry almost completely unravels the family of Jacob with the sale and disappearance of Joseph, the ever present example of Jacob remains foremost in the mind of his children and their descendants.
The image of Jacob that the rabbis tell us is engraved in the side of the Divine Throne is the same image Joseph sees when he narrowly eludes the wife of Potiphar who tries to seduce him. It is the image of Jacob that we see when we sing the song of Hamalach Hagoel Oti, (The angel who redeems me), his words as we raise our children. It is the image of Jacob that we see when we face challenges to our faith, and we gather strength from his example, as one who fights with angels and people and perseveres. It is the image of Jacob we see when we are beset by enemies, as we remember the blessings Isaac gives him that promise he will overcome those who wish to destroy us. It could be a Laban, an Esau, or a modern day terrorist.
Am Yisrael Chai, Israel’s or Jacob’s nation lives.