Vayishlach Torah Portion

In this portion we witness the reunion of the two twins Jacob and Esau. Vayishlach means 'and he sent' and so in the beginning of this portion, Jacob sent angels ahead of him to his brother Esau, which he did not meet for over 20 years.

Vayishlach is the the eighth weekly Torah Portion of the book of Roots - Bereshit. meaning we are in the portion that is signified by the count (attribute) of Bina. The great mother. It it always important to notice the relation between the scriptures and the mystical teachings of Kabbalah, because its hidden knowledge is coded inside the scriptures. In the Tree of Life we have 10 Sephirot while Bina is the Eight Sephira, and as we said, we are on the eight portion, and the Eight Sephira is Bina - the great mother. In accordance, in this portion we would witness the reunion of the two brothers - Jacob and Esau.

The Jewish spiritual teachings, Kabbalah sages and the mythical tradition, consider the tree of life as a structure one must be familiar with when coming to engage in a spiritual journey, and when trying to understanding better the hidden layers of creation and in according, the hidden layers of our lives. Bina is considered as the great mother. She is the expansion and extension of the initial point-like revelation of G‑d into a comprehensive system. Bina is the expansion and extension of our mind and spirit, responsible over the flow of life and spiritual forces to the rest Sephirot – the seven underneath her. The remaining seven sefirot are the seven middot (singular: midda). The word "midda" in Hebrew means a measurement or an amount. This is precisely the function of these seven sefirot, to distribute the divine light & life- force of a particular plane of reality, a particular world, according to its proper measure.

Bina is the IMA ILAA (the higher mother) and as such, we can now maybe understand better why in this portion – the eight portion. A force – a G-dly force is directing the two brothers Jacob and Esau to meet again. The Great mother is the only one who can distribute a will onto the direction of reunion, and by so, to take the two opposite sides signified by Jacob nd Esau from were ever they are to reunite.

Jacob and Esau are the two cosmic twins

Our sages tell us that before G‑d created our world, He created an “earlier” state of existence—the world of Tohu (“Chaos”). This world was made of “much light and limited vessels.” As a result, the vessels burst and the light escaped. G‑d then created “our” world—the world of Tikkun (“Correction”), constructed with “broad containers and limited light” that allow it to function and endure.

“Light” is the Kabbalistic term for a release of divine energy; “containers” (kelim) are the Divine forces that channel, define, and focus the “light”. A soul, for example, is a “light,” while a body is a “vessel”. A world, whether physical or spiritual, consists of lights deriving from the Divine power to reveal and bestow, and vessels deriving from the Divine power to define and delimit. Our world at large ultimately integrate the two realities – Tohu and Tikkun.The Kabbalists see Esau and Jacob as the embodiment of the cosmic twinship of Tohu and Tikkun.

Jacob is the disciplined, focused and controlled energy of Tikkun, while Esau is the raw, untamed energy of Tohu. Esau is a destructive force, because he lacks the discipline and control that would channel this energy in a useful, constructive way. But he is also a very powerful force and that is why Jacob was so scared of him. Just as Jacob, we too face a challenge - to bring together the cosmic twins in a way that exploits the best of both worlds: to marry the immense energy of Tohu with the focus and control of Tikkun. The struggle to achieve this synergy - is the life history of the biblical twins, the essence of human history as a whole and a huge and important part in our life mission. Jacob and Esau are forces each of us possesses. As Jacob representing the Tikkun – the Good and Esau representing the Tohu – the Evil. The one who has the unique power of merging or dissolving this dichotomy is the great mother - Bina, a force we also have inside us. As she held within her both of them.

Jacob and his family were on their way back to the Holy Land after twenty-years at Laban’s house. As they approached the area where Esau lived, Jacob sent messengers (angels) ahead to Esau. Instructing them to deliver the message… that Jacob lived with Laban until now. What did Jacob achieve by telling him this? What was the purpose of telling him this?

Well… Jacob was a clever man, he came towards his brother using couple of tools as strategy. Laban had infamous reputation – He was known as a powerful sorcerer. The very name "Aramite", in Hebrew "Arami" can be rearranged to spell the word "ramai", meaning "swindler". Laban in Hebrew means "white" or "pure". So Laban Haarami was famous in that everyone knew that he always seemed to be of pure intentions, but had devious hidden plans that would trick and trap his victims - even if they were forewarned. He was known as a very dangerous and devious person. As a well-known sorcerer who cast spells and a master magic. He was the father of Be'or who was the father of Balaam, about whom it is written, "Balaam the son of Be'or, the sorcerer". But he outstripped them all in his knowledge of sorcery and black magic.

Back in the days all the world was afraid of Laban and his sorcery abilities, so the first words that Jacob sent to Esau were "I have lived with Laban" - meant - do not try to destroy me because even Laban wasn’t able to. Jacob sent messengers to inform Esau that if Laban could not overpower him, Esau would surely fail to do so. and indeed, immediately on hearing this, as Jacob thought - Esau became fearful and set out towards him to make peace with him living all intentions for war behind. Now, Jacob is ready to take the big step, he dispatches angels and gifts to Esau and initiates a reunion, and as we said he had a strategy: He would come to Esau while preparing himself to several options of reunion

  1. He would prepare himself for war by dividing his camp and belongings, saving the precious last – his wives and children.

  2. He would soften Esau by bringing him many gifts preparing himself for the reunion

  3. He would pray to G-d to receive also all the assistance he can get from the above.

The Angel

When Jacob was left alone, an angel – sages say Esau angel wrestled with him until the break of dawn. When he saw that he could not prevail against him, the angel said, "Let me go, for dawn is breaking," Jacob than said "I will not let you go unless you have blessed me." The angel then asks him for his name and said: "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, because you have commanding power with an angel of G-d and with men, and you have prevailed."

Jacob is the part within us that has a special bond with the forces in the upper realms. G-d commended the angels to surround Jacob and to protect him. And remember - he was the innocent man who is sitting in tents – meaning, sometimes to seat inside a tent, maintain purity and learn Torah – be more educated can create in real life a halo of purity and G-dly assistance. Even when you are outside you are still protected by the tent of Torah.

In Chassidus it is explained that the names Yaakov and Yisrael reflect two different approaches to Divine service. Every Jew must possess both traits, for there are times when a Jew must carry out his Divine service in the path reflected by the name Yaakov, while at other times, his Divine service must reflect the path of Yisrael. Yisrael implies a higher level of existence, however, at certain times, and in certain situations, the Divine service of Yaakov is necessary.

“The deeds of the Patriarchs are a sign for their descendants,” providing us with guidance in our own Divine service. Jacob s teaching us that we must approach eating, drinking, and other material activities with a certain measure of craft and deception. Meaning, in day to day life - on the surface, just like everyone else we are involved in material activities; we eat, drink, and deal in business. But we engages in these activities “for the sake of heaven.” When using Jacob abilities of deception we are actually wearing “Esav’s clothes”. We carry out all our material activities with a sense of inner purpose: to elevate the sparks of G‑dlines contained in the material entities. This is when the world of Tohu is becoming the world of Tikkun. This is the Divine service of Jacob – to conceal the G‑dly goal of his material involvement.

The Divine service of Israel involves a different approach. Israel does not have to conceal the G‑dly goal of his material involvement, for material concerns do not create a conflict for him. For Israel, there is no concealment of the G‑dly source. To cite an example, by simply eating but while blessing before, we are actually performing a Mitzvah. Even when we eat we eat for the sake of heaven. So in a way, as believers we are practicing “deception” every time we perform a physical activity for a spiritual purpose. Without nobody knows even our physical activity of eating can and should reflect holiness. This concept is alluded to by the name Israel, which was granted to Jacob because: “You strove with angels and men and prevailed.’

The terms “angels” and “men” refer to the different challenges we face in our Divine service, for both involve the concealment of G‑dly influence. “Angels” refer to the spiritual archangels who serve as channels through which the Divine influence us even in material existence. The advantage alluded to by the name Yisrael the ability to “strive with angels and men and prevail” is that Yisrael is able to see through the concealment perpetrated by both angels and men. Not only do these forces not contend with him, they consent to the blessings he receives. Not only does Yisrael defeat the archangel of Esav, but that angel blesses him that “His enemies will establish peace with him.” This includes the greatest enemy “the primeval serpent” the source of all sin and conflict. Not only will this force not present any opposition, it will “establish peace,” and offer assistance.

The two levels of Jacob and Israel and the paths of Divine service associated with each reflect two rungs within the G‑dly soul. The Hebrew letters of the name Jacob (יעקב) , can be divided as י' עקב eikev, the heel, the lowest level of the body as well as the soul, shines within the person. As such, it is possible for the body and the animal soul to conceal the light of the Divine soul. The name Israel (ישראל) , by contrast, can be divided into the words לי ראש , “the head for Me.” The “head” of the soul shines within him. Accordingly, there is no need for war; “You [have] strive[n] with angels and men and prevailed.”

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