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Friends. Forever?

Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43 )

by Rabbi Eli Scheller

Rescue me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Eisav. (32:12)

Yaakov was on the road travelling when he received the message that his brother Eisav was heading towards him with 400 men. A frightened Yaakov prays to God, "Rescue me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Eisav." Why did Yaakov repeat himself in describing Eisav? He should have said, "Rescue me from Eisav," or "Rescue me from my brother." What was the purpose of using both terms?

Yaakov's fear was two-pronged. He was afraid that "Eisav" would act with enmity and threaten his physical survival. He also feared the spiritual danger of greeting Eisav as his brother. He feared that Eisav would have a negative influence on his family if they ended up making peace. He therefore prayed to God to save him from both outcomes.

Remarkably, Yaakov prayed for his spiritual well-being before he prayed to be saved from physical danger! He was more concerned over the negative influence that Eisav may have on him than he was concerned for his life!(1)

By nature, people adapt their behavior to their surroundings; they begin to think and act like their neighbors. Hence, it is imperative that one keeps distance from evil people, while befriending righteous people and emulating them.(2)

NOTES

1. Bais Halevi.

2. Rambam, Hilchos Deos 6:1.

 

 

 




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