“And Jacob dispatched Angels ahead of him to his brother Esau.”
In the Torah portion of this week we read about a grand reunion of brothers. Having spent 20 years in Charan living with his uncle Lavan, Yaakov now left with his family to return back to the land of Israel.
Recalling the event of 20 years ago when he left his parents home, Yaakov knew that Esav his brother was not on the best of terms with him. Furthermore, the news arrived that Esav was on his way to greet Yaakov with an entourage of 400 armed men.
Yaakov did not waste time and sent a group of Angels as an overture to Esav to try to influence him to change his evil ways.
On the words “Jacob dispatched angels” Rashi comments and says “actual angels.”
The Maggid of Mezritch, the foremost disciple of the Baal Shem-Tov, and eventual successor, explains that Yaakov sent only the “actual” part of the angel. The angels embodied themselves into a physical form and went off to Esav. Their essence, the spiritual part of the angels, remained with Yaakov.
Now, if Yaakov was trying to influence Esav to stray from his evil ways, wouldn’t one think that the angels should bring their entire “essence” with them on this mission? Why would they leave their most powerful weapon — their spiritual side — behind?
The only way the angels were able to successfully accomplish this mission was by recognizing that while they were currently interacting with the evil Esav, they are forever connected by their essence to Yaakov.
Through keeping their spiritual side bound to Yaakov, in essence, they were staying connected to their spiritual “power line,” which enabled them to successfully influence their unholy subject, without any hindrances.
So, in reality by leaving their essence with Yaacov they gave themselves the ability to accomplish their mission.
Our sages tell us that G-d created this world and placed us upon it to make a dwelling place for Him upon it. By doing acts of mitzvot we chase the evils of this world, and transform all that surrounds us into a world that G-d would be proud to call His home.
How are we expected to enter a world with so many choices in front of us, good and evil, and choose only the good?
We must always remain attached to our spiritual “power line.” We cannot forget that every Jew has a soul that is one essence with its Creator.
When we remain grounded to our roots and connected to our spiritual source, realizing that a part of us has never left the spiritual realms, we will then have the courage to face any choices and make the proper decision.
Today, we find ourselves in a world where daily we are confronted with challenges and evils. A day does not go by that we are not faced with a choice to cave to the evil inclination and stray from G-d’s ways.
By remaining strongly grounded, and remembering that beyond our “actual” self, there is a spiritual soul connected firmly to its source — G-d — we will have the courage to only choose what is righteous and pure. PJC
Rabbi Yisroel Rosenfeld is dean of Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh. This column is a service of Vaad Harabanim of Greater Pittsburgh.