Sunday, December 18, 2005

Yaakov Avinu's worldview

Yaakov davens to Hashem הציליני מיד אחי מיד עשו. The Beis Halevi asks why does Yaakov mention both Esav and my brother? He only had 1 brother, why does Yaakov say save me from my brother, from Esav? He answers that Yaakov understood that there were 2 different dangers, 1 from Esav and 1 from his brother. Esav represents the threat of war and physical destruction. My brother, represents the threat of friendship and assimilation, Yaakov feared both equally. He had no interest in trying to be friends with Esav, he wanted to be left alone.

We find this idea later on in the parsha as well. The Pasuk says ויחן את פני העיר. The medrash comments that it was Friday afternoon and Yaakov made an עירוב תחומין. Interstingly enough by Avraham we found he also made an Eruv, an Eruv Tavshilin. The Meshech Chochma comments that these 2 eruvim give us insight into the character of Avraham and Yaakov. An Eruv Tavshilin represents having guests. The gemara in Pesachim explains that an Eruv Tavshilin only works because since guests may come the food is considered to be for Yom Tov. This is Avraham Avinu, looking for guests and looking outward. Yaakov though is looking inward. He has no desire to engage with the world. He understands that his task is to raise the 12 shevatim so that they can become כלל ישראל. Therefore Yaakov makes an Eruv Techumim, he sets boundaries, he says I will go no further.

We find a similar message in hilchos Channuka. If a person only has money for 1 candle on Friday night, should he use it as a Channuka candle or as a Shabbos candle? Is pirsumei nisa more important or shalom bayis? The gemara states that shalom bayis is more important and therefore he should use it for a shabbos candle. On a hashkafic level, we see the following message. Shalom Bayis comes before Pirsumei Nisa. Before a person goes out into the world to spread the word of hashem, first he needs shalom bayis. He first needs to lool inward and make sure that his house is in order. This is Yaakov Avinu, he felt that his task was to set his house in order and raise the 12 shevatim, he had no time or energy to engage with the world.

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