Many of the ideas are based on Ariel Cohen Alloro’s teachings.
I hope the experts will forgive my simplicity within complexity. I’d like most people to be able to understand or at least follow the logic surrounding these commentaries, for this reason a few things will suffer over-simplicity.
Chaos and Correction
“Vayishlakh” is the portion that deals with the meeting between Yakov and Esav.
As it’s taught in Kabbalah and Hassidut, the purpose of correcting the worlds – the secret of redemption – is this meeting.
The Kabbalists see Esav and Yakov as the embodiment of the cosmic twinship of Tohu (Chaos) and Tikkun (Correction).
The World of Chaos (a primitive World which was devastated because its vessels could not contain God’s Light) and the World of Correction (Our World, which must gather the Sparks of Holy Light that are the residue of the primordial World) are alluded to in Genesis chapter 1.
The eight kings of Edom – who emerged from Esav (Gn 36:31) represent the volatile forces of Chaos (the 7 emotive Sefirot in the ‘World of Chaos’ plus the eighth one; Daat, that corresponds to the door to the world of Correction — Esav in ‘the tree of the Sefirot’ belongs to Isaac’s column [Amud haGevurah] and it represents ‘Unrectified Strength [Gevurah]’).
On the other hand, Yakov said to his brother: “with Lavan I have stayed” (Im Lavan Garti) (Gn 32:5 ). The Word: ‘Garti’ (I have stayed) has the same value, and in deed the same letters with the word: Taryag = 613. Alluding to the 613 commands of the Torah (cf. Rashi). Yakov was entrusted with the 613 commandments of the Torah; from Yakov came the people of Israel, and to Israel was given the Torah through which the world is rectified (the World of Correction).
Esav and Samael
“And he kissed him” (Gn 33:4).
The dots in the Hebrew text over the word: “Kissed him” – “Yishakehu”, imply a slightly different pronunciation with a different meaning: “Yishakhehu” – “he bit him” (cf. Zohar I:171b). As in the bite of a snake.
וישקהו – וישכהו
As Esav is understood to be the counterpart of Yakov, and Yakov is righteous, Esav is wicked. So Esav’s guardian angel is the Wicked Samael.
Samael is the Angel who rode the Serpent who tempted Eve. Samael is the Snake; the Satan. Samael is constantly at war and enmity with the woman’s seed (Gn 3:15). Esav is the father of Amalek (Gn 36:12), of whom it is said: “HaShem is at war with Amalek from generation to generation” (Ex 17:16). Amalek is the archenemy of Israel, and represents the seed of the Snake at war with the seed of the woman.
“In the future, when God uproots the Kingdom of Edom, he will lower Samael first. It is thus written (Is 24:21): ‘God will punish the host of the heights of high’” (cf. Bahir 200). Because “HaShem will punish the host of the high heaven on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth” (Is 24:21) (cf. Saare Orah 2:9 p. 99).
The Angel that fought that night with Yakov when he was preparing himself to meet Esav is said to be Esav’s guardian angel (Zohar I:66a, 146a, 170a; Tanhuma Vayishlakh 8, Bereshit Rabbah 77:3) – some will deduce it from the verse: “he took his brother by the heel and… prevailed over the angel” (Hos 12:4) – this is Samael, who is Satan and the Inclination to evil (Baba Bathra 16a), who dominates night (cf. Zohar 1:170b).
Though the spiritual forces, worlds, and angels that have to do with Esav are considered “evil” in Jewish thought, Esav was not bad in himself; he was potentially good, and Isaac wanted to bless him (cf. Shem Mishmuel).
In this world of potentiality, this world of possibilities, Yakov and Esav, being twins were meant to own the nation of Israel together. They were opposite, but complementary. Esav was hairy, Yakov smooth; Esav was meant to marry Leah and own 6 of the 12 tribes and Yakov was to marry Rachel. But as he sold (in an impulsive reaction) his birth-right to Yakov, Yakov owned “The Voice of Yakov and the Hand of Esav” (Gn 27:22) [the voice of Yakov = Hessed; ie. Abraham’s teachings, and the Hand of Esav = Gevurah; from Isaac’s column; thus teaching that Yakov is the middle pillar that gives balance to Hessed and Gevurah; and that’s why he’s depicted as a “dweller of tents” (Gn 25:27). This Beauty in Balance or Harmony is called “Tiferet”; and that’s why we see Yakov coming to his brother with gifts (Hessed) and ready for battle (Gevurah)]. By consequence Yakov married both, “Leah and Rachel” and owned the 12 tribes. Esav was attached to everything that pertains to the material world, and became the paradigm of “pagan nations”. However the existence of “Evil” itself is also good; for everything (even the Chaos) was very Good in God’s eyes (Gn 1:31) as all was brought to creation with a purpose.
Peniel – Holy Wickedness
So this angel, Samael, comes to Yakov as the driver of his ‘Evil Inclination’, for it’s written: “Yakov was left alone, and there wrestled a man with him” (Gn 32:24). Our sages say that “the Evil Inclination is called a Man” (Sukka 52b). The three metaphorical terms by which the “Evil Inclination” is called gradually by the way it grows are: 1- “traveller” (heleikh), 2 – “Guest” (oreyakh) and 3 – “Man” (Ish) (cf. 2S 12:4), which together in Gematria equal “Evil Inclination” (Yetzer haRa).
יצר הרע = הלך + ארח + איש = 575
It becomes a personal (inner) struggle with Esav’s guardian angel, who is Samael, who leads Yakov’s “Evil Inclination”. But Yakov understands that even the Satan does God’s will. Yakov said to Esav: ‘I have seen your face, as one who sees the face of God’ (Gn 33:10). Everything is under God’s control, for it was God who started the conversation with Satan about Yov (Yov 1:8), and it was God who gave him permission to tempt Yov by all means (Yov 1:12). So Yakov saw the face of God in Esav and his angel. That’s the secret of “Peniel” (face of the Mighty) (Gn 32:30).
Sometimes the difficult moments, and the moments of struggle, where we are given totality of free-choice, are the real moments in Life in which we perceive God clearly. Yakov was able to prevail over the Evil Inclination and bring a correction. For it’s written that “a man wrestled with him”; this is Samael = the Evil Inclination. But later it is said: “I will not let you go until you bless me” – and this is God’s manifestation through this angel; therefore, by Prayer, Yakov released the Holiness of what seemed to be evil, and turned it into good; ie. once the angel’s mission was accomplished, the angel was seen as God’s manifestation; Penuel – the face of the Mighty (cf. Targum Neofiti) – who is Uriel (God’s Light) – as the morning was rising and the night leaving. In Hebrew the word “face” also means “Presence”. Yakov saw God in the Divine Presence (the Shekhina). So Yakov’s struggle became a conversation with the Prince of the Presence (Shar haPanim)- as it’s written: “the Angel of His face saved them” (Is 63:9). Metatron is the other side of Samael; Metatron is linked to Yakov’s “Good Inclination” (cf. Abulafia). As Samael was defeated, Metatron was manifested. Therefore this angel is called both: Samael (the guardian angel of Esav), and Israel (cf. Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer 37).
This is the secret of: “You have striven with Elohim (Divine beings) and with men, and have prevailed” (Gn 32:29 ). Because of Samael it is said: “he [the man] saw that he could not overpower him [Yakov]” (32:26), and of Uriel it is said: “the sun rose as he passed over Penuel” (32:32).
This is the beauty of Paradoxes and the 70 faces of the Torah.
‘Until I come to my lord, to Seir’ (Gn 33:14).
Esav made his home in mount Seir (Gn 36:8; Josh 24:4). Yakov tells Esav he will meet him in Mount Seir.
But “there is no record [in the whole Bible] that our father Yakov went to Seir to see his brother. Rather, Yakov will visit Esav in the future” (cf. Yerusalmi Avodah Zara 40:3), in the Days of the Messiah, “to judge the Mount of Esav” (which is Seir – שעיר, ie. the demon; cf. Ovadiah 1:21), and when the reconciliation between Israel and Edom will be complete (cf. Rashi; Dvarim Rabbah 234:4).
‘Until I come to my lord, to Seir’. In other words: I shall suffer your exile and subjugation until my time to rule over the mount of Esav is come. As it is written: “And liberators shall ascend upon Mount Tzion to judge the mountain of Esav; and the kingdom shall be Hashem’s” (Ovadiah 1:21).
“Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant” ie. Let him rule first this world. – “while I proceed slowly” – meaning: I reserve myself for the End of Days; when I’ll join you to rule over mount Seir (cf. Zohar I:172a).
Esav (Edom = Rome) is compared to a Pig in Jewish literature (cf. Vayikra Rabbah 13:5; Kohelet Rabbah 1:9) [[Even in the so called: “New Testament” there’s a funny story in which a legion of demons enter in a legion of swine (being “legion” a word to refer Roman soldiers)]]. The Pig is the paradigm of what is not clean. As it’s taught: “as a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman that turns aside from discretion” (Prov 11:22). The pig has a portion of goodness and a portion of uncleanness, as it’s written: “for it splits its hoof [like kosher animals] but does not chew the cud [like unclean animals]” (Lv 11:4-7).
Interestingly, the Hebrew name for the “Pig” derives from a word that means “to return” [חזר].
The Midrash says: “Why is [the Pig’s] name Hazir? Because the Blessed Holy One will cause it to Return (l’haKhaziro) to Israel”. Why is called Hazir? Because in the future it will return (lakhzir) (cf. Yehudah Hayon, Otzarot haYamim I:12).
The Pig (Esav) will return to Israel (Yakov)!!
According to Jewish tradition
Yakov stands for Judaism (as it developed in Hazal = Judah = Yakov).
Esav stands for Rome (Rome = Edom = Esav) and Christianity (for it was developed in Rome – Christianity however is the Light within this World of Chaos).
Some might say, the World of Chaos has many Lights but not appropriated vessels (which is why they shattered). The World of Correction has few Lights, but lots of vessels to keep them all.
So as explained in Kabbalah and Hasidut: “The ‘Lights of Chaos’ (Orot leTohu) which is Esav must be settled in ‘vessels of Correction’ (Klim D’Tikkun) which is Yakov” (cf. parashat “Beshalach” beTorah Ohr, by the Admor haZaken [Alter Rebbe]).
This is the purpose of the meeting; opposing Yakov and Esav as stated:
“And the brothers were facing each other” (Ex 37:9) –this is – when doing the Will of the Creator (cf. Baba Bathra 99a). And who are these brothers?
The sentence: “the brothers were facing each other” in Gematria equals 558 which in Hebrew is the sum of the words: Esav + Yakov.
ופניהם איש אל אחיו = 558
יעקב + עשו = 558
And if we get the last letter of each word, this sentence stresses the letters that form the word: ‘Shalom’ (peace). In Gematria Shalom equals Esav.
שלום = עשו = 376
And the letters that are not used in the acronym, counting them together equal ‘Yakov’ (=182).
ופניה* אי* א* אחי* = יעקב = 182
“Let’s journey, and let’s go and I’ll go before you” (Gn 33:12)
[[Nisah vNeleikha v’elkha = Mashiakh]].
So he said first: Let’s journey, let’s go – this is, together.
And then: I will go – this is, ‘you must follow me’.
This impulsive behaviour of Esav keeps a secret. Let’s go together to conquer mount Seir. Let’s go together to bring the Messianic era.
“Two are better than one” (Ecl 4:9), in Gematria equals: “Seir”.
טובים השנים מן האחד = שעיר = 580
But he hurried and said: ‘I’ll go first’. To what Yakov answered: You go first… “I’ll go slowly at the pace of the cattle (melakha) which is before me and the children”.
What is Melakha? Literally: Work. “The Work which is in front of me”. And the “children”, who in a mystery are the Keruvim that keep the Torah. Rabbi Abbahu interprets the etymology of Keruvim as coming from the word: ke-ravya (like a child) (cf. Sukkah 5b).
Summarized and Interpreted in Holiness (in a positive way): We must go together to conquer mount Seir (which means destroy Samael and bring the Messianic era), but I, Esav conquer it first. Christianity is bringing a portion of the “Messianic era”, in which they call: “the New Covenant” by the merits of “Messiah ben Yosef” (who slays the evil inclination). For certainly the “New Testament” brings all the gentile nations to know God and to obey the Ethical principles of God’s Word (Mitzvot shel Bnei Noah; cf. Yakov Emden – Seder Olam Rabbah vezuta). However, as Esav is alone in this task, meaning, Yakov didn’t join him, Messiah ben Yosef dies, as it’s written that they will mourn for the pierced one – who is Messiah ben Yosef (cf. Sukka 52a; Zech 12:10).
Yakov – ie. Judaism is to follow and judge the mount of Esav by making peace with Esav and bringing the portion that is left in the puzzle: Torah, the proper vessels in which the Light is to be kept. For certainly the “New Covenant” is made with Israel, with Judah (Jer 31:31) and fulfilled in the Messianic era, when the knowledge of God will cover the whole Earth (Jer 31:34; Is 11:9). So this brings the King Messiah.
Esav and Yakov were already fighting in the womb, and their whole life is a search for reconciliation. Once Yakov overcomes Esav’s spiritual negative energy, what is left is to reconcile physically with his brother. Since Esav stands for Christianity and Yakov for Judaism, it is the reunion of these two brothers what brings correction to the world and destruction to Samael. As it’s written: “Behold how good and pleasant for brothers [ie. Esav and Yakov], to dwell together in Unity” (Psal 133:1).
2 thoughts on “Parashat Vayishlakh – The Reunion”
This was so deep that I feel a need to chart it in order to understand. What I don’t understand is the part of Messiah Ben Yosef to slay the evil inclination which the new covenant or gospels did by sharing,HaShem slight to the gentitles.
I can see where Christianity caught on to the concept of the One True G-d however it has strayed away from the origins of that concept. So did this really happen? Or has Christianity just fallen away?