THE OUTER WAR MIRRORS THE INNER WAR
By Roy S. Neuberger
As anti-Semitism heats up throughout the world, it is vital to focus on its origins, which are right here, in our Parsha. “The children agitated within her, and … Hashem said …‘Two nations are in your womb, two regimes from your insides shall be separated. The might shall pass from one regime to the other and the elder shall serve the younger.’”
Who is the younger? Yaakov, who came out second.
The archetypal war in history is our war with Esav, as signified by the fact that Yaakov Avinu’s epic battle is with the saar of Esav. According to the eminent historian, Rabbi Berel Wein, we have suffered more over the span of history from Esav than from Yishmoel. This terrible conflict foreshadows the entire Golus Edom through which we have been travelling for the past two thousand years, which continues until this very day!
It is vital to understand that the battle begins in the womb of Rivka Imeinu; from this we understand that the conflict is not only external, but internal as well.
Our antagonist is a man who cries out, “Pour into me, now, some of that very red stuff!” (Bereishis 25:30) Esav goes “acharei levav’chem v’acharei eineichem,” after his heart and eyes, “after which you stray.” (Bamidbar 15:39) Yaakov Avinu, lehavdil, observes and contemplates the tzitzis, which represent taryag mitzvos, so he may “remember all the commandments of Hashem and perform them.”
There is a universe of difference between these two men.
The conflict between our performance of mitzvos and our desire for gashmius is at the core of our existence and is mirrored by the conflict between Yaakov Avinu and Esav. The extraordinary agitation felt by our Mother Rivka is a premonition of the future of her children. The outer struggle mirrors the inner struggle, and if anyone doubts that this is a life-and-death battle, let him remember the events of Churban Europe and the countless tragedies which preceded it.
We cannot run away from this struggle. We can try to pretend that it does not exist, but that attempt will not succeed, because “all the nations … encircle me, they also surround me,” (Tehillim 118) and they will not desist, because of their primordial antagonism to the children of Israel. This struggle will last all through Golus, “until the break of dawn,” when the light of Moshiach will enter the world.
Esav lives with his hands, but Yaakov lives with his voice, the voice which speaks words of Torah. (Bereishis 27:22) The saar of Esav cannot prevail against us as long as we are speaking divrai Torah, and so it is that Torah is our only means of survival. We will prevail in the end, but our shield must be “magen Avraham,” the shield which protected our First Father, who discovered Hashem and His Torah.
“Then saviors will ascend Mount Tzion to judge the mountain of Esav’s mountain and the kingdom will be Hashem’s.” (Ovadiah 1:21)
May we see it soon in our days!
Har Seir, the Mountain of Esav (on the right),
looking eastward from across Yam Hamelach
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Roy Neuberger, author and public speaker, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright 2019 by Roy S. Neuberger