I am in the midst of the saga, the story of Yaakov and Esav. As I continue, we see a tremendous thing, how there's really an overt story and a covert story. The amazing thing is that the covert story, which is a story at a different level of understanding, uses the exact same psukim—verses of the covert story as for the overt story. The narrative contains both meanings. It’s astonishing, and the Ya’akov and Esav narrative is a beautiful example.
There's one more thing I want to say. There are people that find it very strange, have
never heard of this, that Esav was an av—patriarch. That's incredible for most. We're all familiar with the fact that there are three avos, not four. Esav should be the fourth av? It's astonishing! But that's what it is, and to show that, I’ll read the text of a sefer called “Kinot Hashem Tzivokot” written by the RaMCHaL, Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, where he says this himself.
I want, also, to show you that it's not only the RaMCHaL that says it; Rashi, the great commentator, says it too. If you take a look at “Chukas,” which is in sefer “Devarim,” I think in sheni, and here's what it says: Moshe Rabbeinu and the Jewish people are on the move and they want to pass through the lands of Edom because, obviously, Edom had the land south of Israel, Har Seir. it was sort of like in the area of Eilat. So, the Jews wanted to cut through that land to get to Eretz Yisrael. Moshe Rabbeinu sends a message to the king of Edom saying: “kach amar achicha”—thus says your brother, meaning us, the Children of Israel. Let us pass through your land and we promise we won't touch anybody, nor wage war, nor do any kind of violence. We'll take no food; just let us pass through your land. That's all. Give us passage.
The Edomite king, whoever he was, responds with: nope, can't do that. If you attempt to enter my land, I’ll come out to war with you. So, Moshe Rabbeinu did not go through the land of Edom. He went around it which means he had to make a much more expansive circuit to get to Eretz Yisrael.
Rashi asks a question; why, all of a sudden, did Moshe Rabbeinu mention “brotherhood”? He could just as easily have said, “Thus says Israel, ‘please let me pass through your lands’.” Why, instead, does Moshe Rabbeinu say, “Thus says your brother—"achicha”—Israel”? That's what Rashi asks, which is a valid and insightful question.
We know that Esav is our brother; it says that in the Torah, obviously. Esav is the brother of Yaakov, but why mention it now?
Rashi says that Moshe Rabbeinu was imploring the king of Edom for permission to pass through their land because Moshe was offering an argument based on the concept presented by the Ribono Shel Olam when He tells Avraham Avinu that “your children will be in a land that they don't know.” G-D tells Avraham Avinu this by the bris bein ha'besarim—covenant between the parts. Avraham Avinu is told, “Your children will be in a land that they don't know and they will serve them for hundreds of years and then they'll go out with great possessions.” That's what it says.
Rashi continues, asking: who is the Ribono Shel Olam talking about when He said, “Your children will be in the land...” of wherever, which turned out to be Egypt? The Ribono Shel Olam referred to “the children.” Who are they?—Ya’akov and Esav. Rashi says that in a medrash—exegetical commentary. Who is supposed to be in Egypt as slaves for hundreds of years?—the descendants of Ya’akov and the descendants of Esav.
Wait a minute! Why?—because Esav's descendants should have been Jews. Therefore, the Jewish people that descend from Ya’akov and the Jewish people that descend from Esav are the intended targets to be in the land of Egypt. This is what the Ribono Shel Olam was saying.
Instead, what happened? Esav threw off the mission that would have brought his descendants to Egypt. He threw it onto Ya’akov and he abandoned it. Rashi says that. What Moshe Rabbeinu was alluding to is akin to saying to the king of Edom: you owe us a favor. We're the ones who fulfilled the mission being slaves in Egypt. Your ancestor, Esav, your forefather, refused! He threw it upon Ya’akov and he left, he and his descendants. This is what Moshe Rabbeinu implied when speaking to the descendants of Esav represented by the king of Edom.
But why were the Jews in Egypt? If you recall from previous shiurim, when I talked about the Pesach--Passover, it was because the Jews were doing the process of tikkun—rectification. As I’ve mentioned, the inception of tikkun by the Jewish people began when Avraham Avinu took over the process, becoming Jewish, making a covenant, an agreement with G-D, to do it. G-D had taken it away from the nations of the world. G-D said: I'm going to make the covenant, the agreement, with you only.
G-D continues: but the task is not merely from henceforth; you have to undo all the sins of the previous generations of all the nations of the world. All mankind were able to do the tikkun but, at the bris bein ha'besarim—covenant between the pieces, the Ribono Shel Olam took it away from the nations of the world and gave it, solely, to Avraham Avinu and his descendants.
Why? The tikkun requires not only that the Jews do the mitzvos, the obligations, which included going to Egypt, from then on. It required undoing all the sins of the nations of the world in all the previous generations, all the way back to Adam Ha’Rishon—primordial man.
The Jews went to Egypt to undo all sins, all the kilkul—damage of the previous generations of all the nations. Moshe Rabbeinu meant: well then, who had to do the tikkun? Wasn’t it the descendants of Avraham that ultimately had to go to Egypt? Moshe Rabbeinu is saying: it wasn't only the descendants of Ya’akov; it was also the descendants or the shevatim—tribes, including those that would have come from Esav, the tribes from both of us. That means that Esav’s descendants would be doing the tikkun too because their mission was the exact same mission as the children of Ya’akov; going to Egypt was part of the tikkun process.
But how could that be? It is precisely because Esav is an av—patriarch, a Jew! As I mentioned in a recent shiur, had Esav not been a rasha—evil-doer, he would have had six tribes and Ya’akov would have had six tribes. So, it comes out—Rashi says this—that Esav was an av. He was to be included in the tikkun process. It’s not just the descendants of Ya’akov who were given the task; it was also Esav's descendants. Esav would have still been Jewish, meaning an integral part of the mission, part of which was to be done in Egypt as slaves, a mission to undo the evil of all the nations of the world from Adam Ha’Rishon. Isn't that amazing? That medrash, which Rashi brings down, is clearly saying that Esav was a Jew, was an av and, therefore, had the same mission as the descendants of Ya’akov. This makes Esav a patriarch. There you are!
This is Rashi in “Chukas” and there are others who speak about it. There's a rosh yeshiva formerly of Torah Voda’as by the name of Rav Gedalia Schorr, who was a very big baal hashkafa, a great disseminator of esoteric Torah ideas, of RaMCHaL’s hashkafa. He wrote a sefer--book on hashkafa called “Ohr Gedalyahu”--the Light of Gedalyahu in which, regarding parashas “Toldos”—Torah portion of Toldos, he writes about Esav as an av. It's worthwhile looking at that sefer.
For those who find it very strange, who might say: how could you say that Esav is an av? These are the supporting ideas. I’ve mentioned others too.
What we see so far is that both had the job of tikkun, Yaakov and Esav. Esav became a rasha, as I said. Yaakov, by buying the birthright, stopped Esav from being an av, from being able to do tikkun because, whoever can do tikkun can also do kilkul, damage. Esav, with the neshama—soul of an av was doing untold damage. Yitzhak, in giving the blessings to Ya’akov, gave him the permanence of the job of Esav. Of course, it was done unwittingly, but he did it. We know that the job of Esav, which is k’fias ha’ra—to subdue evil and bring it under the rule of kedusha is, essentially, ultimately, the job of the Mashiach ben Yosef, a job Esav was doing until it was realized that Esav’s inclinations and destructive potential required it be given over to Ya’akov because somebody has to do the job of Esav. Even though he failed, that job can’t simply be put by; it’s one of two jobs. Tiferes has two jobs: hispashtus kedusha—to bring down holiness—and that's why Ya’akov is referred to as one who yoshev b’ohelim—sits in tents—and kfias ha’ra tachas kedusha—to subdue evil and subject it to kedusha, Esav’s job, which, as I mentioned, is also the job of the Mashiach ben Yosef.
Since Esav “quit,” so to speak, Yaakov doubled up. It's amazing that one man, now, has two jobs in terms of the tikkun process, a very important idea unknown to so many people. Therefore, once Ya’akov took over the job of Esav, he had to go into the sadeh, into the “field,” into the tumah, the klippah, the evil domain of the world and withstand the temptations and remaining righteous because that's what the job entails. Doing that, somehow, overthrows evil’s dominion, takes back all the yenika--nourishment which comes from the sparks of holiness from which the Satan draws his sustenance. This further advances the tikkun process.
That's why it says, “And Yaakov left Beersheba and went to Charan.” What happened in Beersheva where he received the blessings? Leaving Beersheba and going to Charan is mentioned the same pasuk—verse. It could just as well have said “and Yaakov went to Charan.” why mention Beersheva?—to tell us that what happened in Beersheba is the reason why he had to go to Charan having taken upon himself Esav’s job. And whose evil is to be subdued?—Lavan.
He went to the house of Lavan because Lavan was really a very evil person. Some people even say that he was Bilaam or a predecessor of Bilaam. Lavan was a villainous character and we know that Yaakov suffered greatly under Lavan’s authority. Lavan deceived him with his wives, Leah, then Rachel, and deceived him in terms of Ya’akov’s compensation for his labor. Ya’akov says: he changed my wages so many different times, gave me all the bad sheep.... Who wants to enumerate all the terrible things that Lavan did! He was a deceiver, just like Esav. He’d connive and fool you. He was a scam artist, a conman, one of the originals as they say.
The Mission, Marriage
Since Ya’akov took over Esav’s job, guess what!—he’d have to marry Esav's consort. What does that mean? We know that Rachel was supposed to be his wife. That's fine and that’s why Yaakov wanted to marry Rachel his intended consort. What does that mean? Every person with a mission, every woman with a mission has a husband with an affiliate mission; they form what's called a “team.” As the verse says, zachar u’nekeiva bara otam”—male and female, He created. Such a union is not two different people with two different missions—no. They have two aspects of one mission. They work in parallel. That's, fundamentally, the secret of a marriage. G-D decided that the mission should not be undertaken by one person but by two, and they live together as man and wife. Therefore, Rachel had the job that was the counterpart of Yaakov Avinu’s.
What was Yaakov Avinu's job?—hispashtus kedusha, to bring down holiness. That's why he was “in the tent” learning Torah all the time. Therefore, Rachel was his consort, the counterpart of his team. He obviously had to marry her.
Since Esav was an av, wouldn't that indicate that he also must have a woman as his partner on his team? Of course! Who is that?—Leah. Leah was destined to be married to Esav while Rachel was destined to marry Yaakov but, when Esav became a rasha, a blackguard and scoundrel, Leah found out, somehow knew, that the husband destined for her would be Esav. It was thought that Rachel would marry Yaakov and Leah would marry Esav. But Leah, a profoundly righteous woman, was unbelievably perturbed by this. The husband she was supposed to be with, the one she was to help in the performance of his mission of kefias ha’ra, the subjugation of evil, was a rasha. Torah reveals that she cried, saying that Leah’s eyes were “weepy” because she cried so much.
What happened? Ya’akov, upon arriving to Charan, meets Rachel and we’re told that Ya’akov loved her immediately. Fine; that makes sense. Then, of course, Ya’akov makes a deal with Lavan to marry Rachel. He agreed to work for Lavan for seven years in exchange for the right to marry Rachel. Lavan, being the original conman, doesn't want just that. He wants to con Ya’akov into working for him double, so what does he do? During the wedding of Ya’akov and Rachel, he switches Rachel for Leah by putting a veil on her so Ya’akov doesn’t recognize who she is. Ya’akov winds up marrying who?—Leah, which is incredible!
Why did that happen? Why did the Ribono Shel Olam allow Ya’akov to be deceived so he would marry Leah instead of Rachel? Was it simply due to the deception of Lavan? Yaakov had to marry Leah since he took over Esav’s task; it follows logically that he would have to marry Esav’s consort, Leah. Leah was the appropriate wife of a man whose mission of tikkun was to subjugate evil. That marriage was destined. Once he took over the job of Esav, he’d have to marry Leah. The Ribono Shel Olam allowed this to transpire because Leah would help Ya’akov, as she would have helped Esav, do the tikkun.
This presents us with a very difficult problem. If Leah was supposed to be the wife of Esav whose mission of tikkun was to deal with evil, Leah's part was to deal with evil too. If that's true, why would Leah give birth to Yehuda? Yehuda’s task lies in that apportionment of work of Mashiach ben David, hispashtus kedusha, to bring down holiness, not to fight evil. Leah should have given birth to Yosef! Instead, we find that Leah births Yehuda, Mashiach ben David's forerunner. It is Rachel who produces Yosef, the forerunner of Mashiach ben Yosef. There's a switch here. How did that happen? It’s a very powerful question.
So, it comes out that Leah becomes the consort of Yaakov, and Rachel becomes the consort of Esav whose job was taken over by Ya’akov. How do we resolve this seeming misappropriation of tasks? It’s as though the job of Rachel switched from being that which was appropriate to Ya’akov, instead becoming the one appropriate to Esav.
The resolution is very interesting. I had really to search for this because this presented a seemingly unsolvable paradox. Although he doesn’t say it blatantly, the one who seems to deal with this is the great commentator, Ohr Ha’Chaim Ha’Kadosh. He says something amazing.
Yaakov’s marriage to Leah was a deceit. After the marriage, when they move to live with each other, a period and condition that is special for a tzaddik who doesn't simply cohabit with his wife; this act to move in together is an aspect of his kavanah—intent to fulfill the mission, whatever his mission is. Ya’akov’s intent was to bring kovod--honor to G-D, an intent powerfully motivated. What was the kavanah of Ya’akov while living with Leah? It was the mission that was applicable to having married Rachel. While living with Leah, he was, actually thinking of the mission with Rachel. What was the mission of Rachel?—to be his consort, assisting him in bringing down kedusha which is the task associated with Mashiach ben David.
Because Ya’akov having, rightfully, the kavanah of Ya’akov Avinu—who knows the tzidkus—righteousness, the kabbalistic complexity of his intent—he thinks of his wife, Leah, as Rachel. In some way, he changed the job of Leah. Instead of Leah doing the job of kefias ha’ra, which is Mashiach ben Yosef, he applies his job’s intent to Leah, the job of hishpastus kedusha, to bring down holiness, the job associated with Mashiach ben David. Leah now becomes a different type of woman! She can give birth to Yehuda whose “context” is that of Mashiach ben David.
Because of Yaakov's kavannah, Leah now had a different job, that of bringing down the shoresh—root of the neshama of Mashiach ben David. Who is that?—Yehuda. As we know, Mashiach ben David comes from Yehuda. Ya’akov thought that Leah was Rachel therefore Rachel's job now became kfias ha’ra which is Mashiach ben Yosef. Her mission changed. She gave birth to Yosef and Benyamin and they are into dealing with evil.
When you think about it, it's an incredible ability of a tzaddik to change the mission of a person by their own kavannah. The Ohr Ha’Chaim Ha’Kadosh alludes to this by bringing our attention to this concept. The consequences are absolutely astounding!
Rachel has the job, the original job of Leah, and Leah has the original job of Rachel—fascinating!
Ya’akov must leave the house in the Beersheva, which is the house of Yitzhak, and go into the “field,” into the world. He becomes the ishsadeh—man of the field to dothe job of Esav in addition to his own job of kedusha, that of Mashiach ben David.
He struggled for twenty-two years in the house of Lavan who continually tried to deceive him. It was a house filled with evil because Lavan was also steeped in sorcery, kishuf, tumah, magic, all that kind of stuff. It was Lavan’s field of expertise. Ya’akov had to deal with this. Besides, Lavan was a terrible boss, deceiving him in so many different ways. Ya’akov, himself, says this about Lavan when he's about to leave Lavan after fourteen years of cumulative work, seven years for each of his wives, fourteen years of the twenty-two he was gone from his homeland.
A Mission’s Concomitant Temperament
We now encounter a very difficult problem which changes history. In order for a person to fulfill his mission, he must develop a certain type of temperament, character. We saw that by Ya’akov and Esav when they were born, that Ya’akov had a tendency toward the beis medrash—house of learning. Even in utero, Ya’akov’s temperament, as rooted in his neshama, compelled him to be attracted to kedusha, holiness. Since Esav’s job was to defy evil, conquer it and destroy it, he had a temperament inclined toward evil. He would try to “break out” whenever Rivka passed some type of avodah zara—idol worship. As I mentioned, this was only temperament, not a personality issue. Temperament is inborn; personality is learned.
Ya’akov's temperament was what's called “emes” and “sheker” He was an inordinately honest person, avoiding falsehood. Like it says in the pasuk—verse, “titen emes l’Ya’akov”—you have given truth to Yaakov (Micah 7:20). There are certain kids that are strongly drawn to truth or goodness, holiness. That was Yaakov's middah in order for him to fulfill his mission.
Esav's temperament was different, drawn to gaavah and taavah, fraud and hedonism and brutality. That's what he had to fight against in himself in order to subdue the Satan. Ya’akov, by not being a baal gaavah, being an onav—one who is humble, and not being a taavah, being a poresh—someone who distances himself from immorality and excessive pleasure-seeking. That was his temperament. Yaakov, with his temperament, couldn’t do two jobs permanently, particularly a job that was anathema to his temperament. Doing the job of Esav could only be temporary. Ya’akov couldn’t last in Esav’s job.
Given this impediment, what is the Ribono Shel Olam to do?—something really amazing. Ya’akov needs an associate. He needs somebody else to take over half the job of Esav. He already did half the job but needs somebody with a tendency toward gaavah and taavah. There is nobody, really, who can do that because Ya’akov is an av, will have shvatim—tribes. Ribono Shel Olam “needs”—again, G-D has no actual needs—somebody who has the neshama of an av to destroy the Satan, to do the job of Esav. He must be an av because only that level of neshama could destroy the Satan. While there is nobody like that, Ya’akov remains with Lavan.
Finally, somebody arrives. Who is that?—Yosef! What the Ribono Shel Olam does is an incredible thing. He gives Yaakov, Yosef. Yosef is a chatzi av—half patriarch. Yosef was not a shevet; he was a half-patriarch. Yosef was a much greater neshama than the other shvatim because “half” of him, whatever that means in terms of the neshama, was that of a patriarch. We now understand why Yosef could have shvatim, Menashe and Ephraim. They are shevatim. A shevet cannot give birth to a shevet; the inception of a shevet has to be an av, has to be, on the neshama level, a patriarch. Someone who can give rise to a tribe would besomeone that's lower in kedusha. The neshama would be lower in kedusha. The Ribono Shel Olam makes Yosef a chatzi av—amazing!
Where do we see this in the Torah, that Yosef would fulfill the other half of the job of Esav? The secret of Yosef's mission, which we'll now understand, is expressed in the portion that says, “v’yehi k’she’yolad Rachel...”—when Rachel gave birth to Yosef, Yaakov Avinu tells Lavan: I worked for you enough. I want to go home. Why then? Why did he want to leave Lavan when Yosef was born?
Rashi says that it was because he knew that the neshama of Yosef is half as great as that of a patriarch. Yosef could do the job of Esav! Only now can Ya’akov go back to his former job. In fact, Yaakov Avinu hints at this when he says to Lavan that he wants to go back “el mikomi”—to my place, and “el artzi”—to my land which means, basically, Eretz Yisrael. Why does he say “to my place and to my land”? He could have just said, “I want to go back to Eretz Yisrael where my family is,” to Yitzhak and all that. Ya’akov’s language alludes to his desire, his intent, to go back to his place in the tikkun process. What was that “place”?—hishpastus kedusha, the concept of Mashiach Ben David, and also Eretz Yisrael.
In fact, Rashi says that Ya’akov recognized this and we learn this based on a pasuk in the “Nev’iim”—Book of the Prophets which says, “V’haya beis Ya’akov l’eish, u’beis Yosef lehava—and the house of Yaakov will be for a fire and the house of Yosef will be the flame of that fire. The consequence will be, “u’beis Esav l’kash”—and the house of Esav will be straw, stubble. That pasuk indicates that it takes Ya’akov and Yosef to reduce Esav to straw. They both are needed to do the job of Esav. Rashi says this; it’s the fascinating and marvelous resolution, that Yosef would be taking over the other half of the job of Ya’akov which allows him to return to “his place” in promulgating kedusha, his place in the tikkun process.
This entire story is about the spiritual mission more so than about the events of being in the house of Lavan. Yosef will continue the work of Mashiach ben Yosef. This explains why Yosef had a tendency toward gaavah and taavah. The Ribono Shel Olam solved the problem by elevating a shevet to the level of a half-patriarch. This is why Yosef is so holy; he was not a shevet; he was on the level of Ya’akov Avinu.
Since Yosef took over Esav’s job, he had to go into the klippah which was Egypt. Yosef was destined to also go into the sadeh, into the tumah and remain righteous. Why? He took over Esav’s job. Now it all falls into place. He was destined to go to Egypt and the kidnapping was because he took over the job of Esav from Ya’akov. This fact answers so many questions as we’ll see.
What happens next? Ya’akov prepares to leave Lavan’s household and, of course, Lavan doesn’t want him to leave; he wants cheap labor. Ya’akov flees with his wives and children and he’s going to meet up with Esav who, as he finds out, is coming to intercept him with four hundred of his men. Esav intends to kill Ya’akov, an act of revenge for Ya’akov’s having stolen the blessings. These were tremendous material blessings, as I spoke about last time, meant for Esav.
It’s strange because it says “v’yirah Ya’akov me’od”—and Ya’akov was very afraid. What was he afraid of?—G-D is the one who decides who the victor is, but here’s the problem.
Esav was one of the greatest individuals to observe the mitzvah of kibud av v’eim—honoring one’s father and mother. Ya’akov knew that he himself was deficient because Esav served his father because he lived in Eretz Yisrael. He fulfilled this mitzvah with awesome devotion whereas Ya’akov didn’t have that level because he wasn’t around to serve his parents. He was gone for twenty years. He worked for Lavan for fourteen years—seven for Rachel and seven for Leah—tended sheep for six years for which he accumulated a huge flock. He was absent for twenty-two years. It’s not that he dishonored his parents; he just wasn’t around so he didn’t have the level of holiness that comes from keeping this mitzvah, twenty-two-years’-worth. That was frightening to him.
He is afraid Esav could succeed in killing him. Esav’s merit would be enough to subdue him, enough to kill him. It would allow the Satan to mekatreg—prosecute and could say: why should Ya’akov survive? Esav has a great mitzvah so we have to do the will of Esav. He wants to kill Ya’akov?—too bad for Ya’akov. This is why we’re told “v’yirah Ya’akov me’od.” The Targum points this out.
The fact that Esav had this incredible mitzvah has long been a burden for klal Yisrael—the community of the Jewish nation to overcome.
The Allusions in Ya’akov’s Logical Argument
Ya’akov is about to meet Esav. He would try to convince Esav not to kill him and his household. Ya’akov has various strategies: separate the wives and children in various groupings so that if Esav attacks one, the others could escape. Ya’akov also sends gifts, tries to negotiate, but look at what the negotiation consists of. The argument Ya’akov offers “yesh li shor v’chamor...”—I have oxen, donkeys...means that he possessed a great herd of cattle and donkeys, flocks and herds which, at that time, was the measurement of wealth. It was based on agriculture and animals; there was no industry. He said, “I have tzon”—flocks of sheep and “im Lavan garti”—I resided with Lavan.
These items allude to what?—I lived with Lavan and survived. Rashi says that the letters of the word “garti”—I resided has the same value as the taryag mitzvos—613 commandments. Ya’akov was conveying that, while living with Lavan, he not only amassed possessions, he observed the commandments and: you didn’t so I am entitled to the first blessings of our father, Yitzchak.
This is rather strange. Why is Ya’akov saying “garti” alluding to the commandments? I have done the 613. Do you think Esav cares? Esav is a mafia guy, right? He murders and steals wives. Why would he care if Ya’akov did mitzvos? What Ya’akov was implying was: I took over your job. That’s what the brachos were; they weren’t just material wealth. They were to give me the ability to subdue evil by doing the mitzvos so don’t be angry. I didn’t take the blessings to accumulate personal wealth. I took them in order to do the tikkun you should have done which is kfias ha’ra—subduing evil by doing mitzvos. He never meant to take Esav’s wealth, only the spiritual job that he, Esav, was not doing. You weren’t interested in this so don’t be angry with me. This was Ya’akov’s logic.
Look what I accomplished by doing the mitzvos is what Ya’akov meant. What is an ox? It is a symbol of Mashiach ben Yosef. I have chamor—donkeys. We know that the Mashiach ben David rides a donkey into Yerushalayim. Ya’akov was conveying: I have the root souls of both Mashiach ben Yosef, “shor,” and Mashiach ben David, “chamor.” I also have tzon—flocks of sheep, symbolizing klal Yisrael. This is all proof that I did the tikkun. If I hadn’t done the tikkun, I could never have amassed all this!
Ya’akov is trying to prove to Esav that his entire motive was spiritual, not compelled by jealousy to take over wealth. He is saying: it was a spiritual quest in which I succeeded because I actually brought down the preeminent souls of the meshichim—the messiahs. I brought down Mashiach ben Yosef because I have Yosef, my shevet, my son. I have Mashiach ben David, Yehuda. Now we understand what he’s really saying and that’s the logic.
The Ultimate Combat
Now what happens? Before he meets Esav, after offering all the arguments which I’m interpreting in a way according to the covert story, Ya’akov went back to get some jars after which there’s a very mysterious event. It says, “V’yeovek ish imo”—and a man fought with him. Ya’akov fought some guy when he went back? When you read it, it’s unfathomable. He goes back to get some vessels he forgot and then he’s fighting somebody? What’s happening? It’s a mystical story that has profound implications for the theme that I’m saying.
Even though Ya’akov took over Esav’s job, he was never subjected to the intensity of the yetzer ha’ra—evil inclination of Esav; that was lacking. Obviously, Ya’akov had a powerful yetzer ha’ra, but he wasn’t tied to the root of the Satan. He never experienced a colossal temptation, the kind that comes from the Satan himself. He didn’t finish the job. If you don’t experience the yetzer ha’ra with the climactic intensity that Satan subjects you to, you haven’t finished the mission of subduing evil.
Rashi asks: who did Ya’akov fight?—the Satan, sa’arei shel Esav—angel of Esav. Why is Satan the angel of Esav? Esav, in order to subdue the Satan, had to be connected to the root of evil, as we know. Esav, as a patriarch, is connected to one root of kedusha, that of the root of evil, the Satan. If Esav does the mitzvos, the Satan would die. Therefore, Ya’akov now has to fight the temptations of the Satan which is incredibly difficult, like fighting an overwhelming obsession.
Rashi says that “ish”—man is the Satan, that Ya’akov fought a “man.” We know that the Satan is a malach—angel. An angel can appear outside the body but the main manifestation of the Satan is inside the mind as the yetzer ha’ra. Ya’akov fought with the Satan—true—but with the Satan has he’s manifest in the mind as a man. We now encounter Ya’akov’s battle with the intensity of the Satan himself.
We know that the mida—measure, characteristic of Ya’akov isn’t like that of Esav with his inclinations toward gaavah and taavah, fraud and hedonism. Ya’akov’s mida is emes—truth. Here was the problem that the medrash talks about.
When Ya’akov left Lavan, he had accomplished the subjugation of the Satan due to his great righteousness. It says that, after he left Lavan, he built a mizbeach—altar which he called “keil elokei Ha’shem.” The medrash says that Ya’akov Avinu, in using this title for the altar, was referring to himself as a god. Why?—because he’d done an incredible job. That meant that Ya’akov Avinu experienced a powerful desire to feel good about himself—arrogance. He felt about himself, at his level, arrogant, referring to himself as “keil,” Divine. The medrash points out that such a reaction was not right, giving himself credit more than he gave G-D.
This hearkens back to what he said to Esav, that he has flocks and donkeys, that he’d brought down the Mashiach ben Yosef’s neshama, brought down Mashiach ben David’s neshama as “chamor,” and brought down the whole of klal Yisrael. It’s as if declaring: Could you imagine my tziddkus—righteousness, the victory I did! If “arrogance” isn’t the right word, I’d say that he gave himself too much credit, more than he deserved and that was illustrated by when he built the mizbeach that he called himself a god.
That left him open to a vulnerability. That’s when the yetzer ha’ra attacked him. Suddenly, Ya’akov had this thought: Wow! I’m fabulous! Having left himself open to some kind of arrogant tendency, he then experienced the full brunt of the temptation of the yetzer ha’ra, an onslaught of a feeling of gaavah, that feeling of: wow! Do you know who I am? Obviously, we’re talking about the level of Ya’akov, not your “average Joe” with a swelled head. At his level, he was wrong. We see that from the medrash.
The commentator who indicates this is the Sforno when he says that Ya’akov spent the whole night being attached to the “Oneness of G-D.” What does that mean? In a sense, he felt himself an equal of G-D—not literally—but, in a way, with his free will, he accomplished monumental tasks. Can we imagine what it must have been like for him in the house of Lavan for twenty years, experiencing the horrendous deception and sorcery of Lavan? Anyone else would fall. Not only did Ya’akov not fall, he remained righteous, so we can understand that he took credit, feeling proud. Ya’akov spent the night trying to remove his hubris. That is what the commentary says, that Ya’akov spent the night trying to attach himself to the yichud—Oneness of G-D, to experience: G-D is everything, not me. It’s a powerful concept.
So, a “man” fought with him, the Satan imbuing Ya’akov with the intensity of the yetzer ha’ra, an experience he had to have in order to complete Esav’s job. Ya’akov is wrestling with his inclination to take too much credit for what he’d done, naming the altar after himself alluding to himself in a grandiose way, leaving himself open to attack.
We now realize that this was Ya’akov’s last test in his job, doing what Esav was to have done, beating the yetzer ha’ra. And he did; he won. When day broke, the Satan said, “Leave me; I have to go.”
Ya’akov responded by requesting a blessing. Why?—as a vindication that says: okay, you won against the temptation. As such, he wanted the Satan, the angel of Esav, the yetzer ha’ra himself, to admit that he, Ya’akov, had completed the job of Esav, had accomplished the mission assigned to Esav. “Bless me!” he said.
Did the Satan bless him?—no. He changed his name. Why?—because that was the admission that Ya’akov wanted. “Your name will no longer be ‘Ya’akov’ but ‘Yisrael’” ki sorisa—because you fought with evil men, namely Esav and Lavan, and you won! Why is the Satan giving him that instead of a traditional blessing? Ya’akov really wasn’t interested in a blessing; he wanted an admission from the Satan himself who was an instrument of utter temptation, that he’d accomplished Esav’s mission. It’s an astounding concept, this being the final test, the final endeavor of kefias ha’ra—subjugation of evil.
Ya’akov’s battle all night was to feel grandiose hubris and overcome it. He fights to maintain his anivus—humility. He mustn’t take credit to the extent of naming a mizbeach after himself using the word “keil,” implying divinity at whatever level.
The Satan was that which destroyed Esav. Esav was tied to the Satan and the Satan won. Somehow, the Satan tempted him so powerfully that Esav couldn’t withstand it. He could have but didn’t. The admission of the Satan that Ya’akov won was an incredible one. The Satan had to admit it so Ya’akov’s name would no longer be “Ya’akov,” a name that implies deception; it will be “Yisrael,” because: you did the job and won. You lived with Esav and Lavan and remained righteous.
Then he meets Esav and later it says, “Vayovo Ya’akov shalem”—and Ya’akov came (to Shechem) whole, complete. This, too, is an indication that he fulfilled the job. Imagine what it takes to get the Satan, the chief of evil, to admit that you are righteous, that you won! Wow! What an admission! The residual problem was that the Satan was able to hit him in his hip and damage it so he did limp for a while.
The main idea is that Ya’acov completed his half of Esav’s job and the other portion would go to Yosef which I will get into in depth in a subsequent lecture. Esav is about to meet up with Esav which I’ll talk about but not next week since it will be shortly before Chanukah.
Q & A
Participant: If Rachel took over the job of subduing the evil, her main job was simply to bring down Yosef?
R’Kessin: Yes, now it is, and that’s why she gave birth to Yosef and Binyamin.
Participant: I’m saying, that’s it? She didn’t have any other....for Leah too...their jobs were to bring down the souls and that’s it?
R’Kessin: Their job was to bring down the shvatim—tribes, to complete the Jewish people. That requires not only bringing down the neshamos of the yud-beis shvatim—12 tribes but raising them to be tzaddikim—righteous individuals. That’s a tremendous job, to raise twelve kids.
Participant: In those terms....let’s take Rachel and her part in Ya’akov’s mission...
R’Kessin: ...so she had to bring down the chief neshama, that of Mashiach ben Yosef who was Yosef.
Participant: Was that her way of subduing evil?
R’Kessin: Yes, because she was on the “evil-subduing team.” In her case, it manifested as bringing the neshama, the yesod—foundational neshama of Mashiach ben Yosef who is Yosef Ha’Tzaddik.
By the way, do you know that his neshama is accompanied by the yesod--foundation of Yosef Ha’Tzaddik himself, his neshama, attaches to MbY. The Mashiach ben Yosef himself is a spark from that yesod. The foundational neshama of the ability to subdue evil is the neshama of Yosef. So, Rachel had to bring it down with her righteousness, whatever that avodah--service was, and train him, raise him.
Leah did that for Yehuda. It’s an interesting story, isn’t it? The covert story almost has nothing to do with the overt story but it does in that the overt story speaks to the hidden spiritual struggle that is going on to do the tikkun. The whole Torah is filled with this type of two-dimensionality of stories of spiritual struggle. The struggles are spiritual even though the struggle takes place within physical events.
Participant: Usually, in the stories of the Torah, when trying to bring out the spark of Mashiach ben Yosef, usually, the story takes place where the Satan wouldn’t expect it like, for example, the story of Lot and his daughters, or Ruth, that she was a Moavi (Moabite) and....why was it so clear-cut in this story? Why didn’t the Satan protest this? Why was it so easily brought down? Usually, the way we brought down those neshamot was done in secretive ways so the Satan was not aware of it, was done by trying to trick the Satan. That’s how we took out the klippa, were able to bring out those neshamot of Mashiach ben Yosef or Mashiach ben David, but in this case, in this story, we didn’t have to trick the Satan, didn’t have to do any of those tactics in order to bring down Yosef and Yehuda.
R’Kessin: When you think about it, there was a trick—Rachel. Who’s the enemy of the Satan, really? Is it Mashiach ben David or Mashiach ben Yosef?
Participant: David killed him. Yosef fights him.
R’Kessin: It’s Yosef who subdues him. David finishes it off. He ushers in the messianic era, but the destruction of that era is initiated, mainly happens, with Yosef.
The Satan doesn’t want the neshama of Mashiach ben Yosef to come down. He doesn’t expect Rachel to give rise to the neshama of Yosef. It only happened because Leah was substituted for Rachel so it winds up that Rachel, who Ya’akov really wanted, brings down the Mashiach ben Yosef. In the end, Yosef is the real killer as we will see by Yosef himself in Egypt. He’s the one who most harmed the Satan in Egypt. That was deception.
The neshama was brought down by Rachel and the Satan didn’t expect that. He thought maybe Leah would do it. She was weak because, so the Satan reasoned: she isn’t marrying Esav so who is her partner? She appears to be the weaker one. She’s the one crying because she doesn’t want to marry Esav; she’s missing a partner, a “team-member.” Satan isn’t worried about Leah, thinking: she’ll never make it. The Satan didn’t expect Ya’akov to marry Leah. He thought what would happen is that Leah would remain with Lavan and she’ll somehow fall, will fail to remain righteous because Esav isn’t around to stabilize her and the Satan doesn’t know Ya’akov would marry Leah so from where would she get her strength. If Leah was supposed to bring Yosef, the Satan could think: what’s the problem here? That was deception.
Leah was terribly depressed. That’s one “bad mark” against her. The second thing is that her father is Lavan. The third obfuscating factor is that Leah doesn’t have a partner to help keep her righteous. The Satan had no reason to think she’d make it and, if she doesn’t make it—bingo, no Mashiach ben Yosef!
What did the Ribono Shel Olam do? He made sure that Rachel would do it, not Leah, but the only way that Rachel would be able to bring down Yosef is if Leah and Rachel switched roles. That’s a complete deception. Understand? Isn’t that interesting!
It took deception. The Ribono Shel Olam had to conceal these tactics from the Satan. Rachel will do it because she is married to Ya’akov and didn’t cry because she knew she was going to be married to Ya’akov. Leah was the weak one, the vulnerable one. What the Ribono Shel Olam did was amazing. He got Leah to marry Ya’akov and Rachel to bear Yosef, the foundational neshama of Mashiach ben Yosef.
The Satan figured he could “write off” Leah. She had many reasons to have many complaints against G-D, crying all the time. Why must I remain with my father? Where’s Esav? Why must I be stuck with this mazal—fortune? She could have had such complaints but she didn’t. She had grounds for complaints. The truth is that Leah was “finished” because it was Rachel’s contribution to the conspiracy which she clearly made as the medrash says; it enabled Leah to marry Ya’akov—which is incredible and as I’ve spoken about in the “Tisha b’Av shiur—which is one of the reasons why Rachel had the merit of being the “Redeemer of Israel.”
It comes out that there was a major deception, that the Mashiach ben Yosef did come down but not through Leah as the Satan expected. He came down through Rachel because she was strong. She knew she would leave Lavan and go with Ya’akov as her husband. It’s an incredible act of deception that the Ribono Shel Olam did to the Satan.
Participant: Why is it that, throughout the Torah, we keep going down to Egypt? Avraham did. Yosef went down to Egypt. Then, as Klal Yisrael, we went down.
R’Kessin: Why Egypt? It’s because the Jews had to go into a nation that would be the firstborn of the Satan. They had to go into the nation that was the most evil of all. The most evil nation would have taken all the tumah, all the pollution, of the Satan. Egypt was the most evil, defiled nation in the world. They were perverted sexually, perverted in idolatry, in sorcery. They were the firstborn of the Satan. The Jews had to go into that nation and remain righteous or suffer at their hands. That’s why Egypt is a pivotal nation for the avodah of tikkun of the Jewish people. That’s why.
Participant: So, is Edom (the firstborn) right now...?
R’Kessin: Yes, the current b’chor--firstborn of the Satan is Edom. If you remember I spoke about Obama, that the Satan is trying to make Ishmael the b’echor. It’s really Edom and Ishmael together. That is the equivalent of Egypt as it was in those days.
Participant: Don’t they say somewhere that, at the End of Time, Esav and Ishmael come together and go up against Israel? Isn’t that why Esav married Ishmael’s daughter?
R’Kessin: The klippah of Esav and Ishmael would join. Isn’t that what happened when America and the Arabs under Arafat joined with the Oslo Accords to destroy Israel? Do you remember that in 1993? The Oslo Accords legitimized the Arab argument which said: we do have a right in Israel, as you admit. That’s insane! That was the first time in history that Israel admitted that the Arabs have a claim on the Land of Israel. That’s when the 2-state solution came into being.
Who did that? It was that crazy idiot Clinton and the mishigine (Yiddish for “lunatic”) Arafat. They pushed it with Rabin, the Eirev Rav. All three: Edom/Clinton, Arafat/Ishmael, and Rabin/Eirev Rav ganged up on Israel to instigate something unheard of. With that “logical” outcome, came: so, if that’s the case, let’s do a 2-state solution because even they (Jews) admit that we (Arabs) have a claim. That was a death blow to Israel. If not for G-D’s intercession with Arafat killing Jews, if not for his idiocy, he could have obtained half of Israel just from that claim. Those three partners in the galus—exile, Edom, Ishmael, and the Eirev Rav forced the Oslo Accords in 1993 which, to this day, Israel is trying to shake off.
And it’s mishigine Biden, the crazy idiot, and Blinken—you can’t believe the evil of these people—who are trying to get...there’s no such thing as a 2-state solution because, ultimately it would mean the utter destruction of Israel by the Arabs. You can’t live together with Hamas or Islamic Jihad or Hezbollah. Are they crazy? They’re all lunatics. They don’t care if Israel survives, and Blinken is Jewish! You talk about an Eirev Rav....
Clinton was in it for the personal glory because he had to whitewash his reputation after Monica Lewinsky. He needed some type of legal “victory.” It would have been incredible for him had he been able to bring peace to the Middle-East. He didn’t care about the fact that the Arabs want to wipe out Israel. He was only interested in his glory. It’s called “yerusha”—arrogance.
Thank G-D that Arafat was a lunatic. He could have had....do you know how much property he could have gotten? Rabin was going to settle and then, what’s-his-name—the one who took over after Rabin—wanted to give them everything under the auspices of Clinton but Arafat refused. Unbelievable!
All this is from shamayim—heaven, Divine intervention. It’s always like this, their efforts to destroy the Jewish people. Every single time, there’s such intervention.
Participant: Now, America is the bechor, is the firstborn of the Satan. It’s happened before.
R’Kessin: Now it’s slightly different. The good part of Esav has come into being from Trump; that’s the difference. In the days of Clinton, it was all the evil of Esav but now Trump is the beginning of a Redemption because Esav has to do teshuva—repentance which I’ll talk about when I talk about what happened when Ya’akov met Esav.
It's no longer a singular country deemed to be “Esav.” What we have now is the good part of Esav trying to win but, of course, what you’re seeing now with current events, with what is being done against Trump, is the struggle against him. It’s unbelievable! It’s impossible to understand for most people. This is unprecedented in American history. Even the Republican Party is turning against Trump. It’s reverting back to the same odds as when Trump ran in 2016 when nobody thought he could win. It was a miracle.
It looks like you’re about to watch the same miracle. Why? It’s because the Satan must destroy the good part of Esav. The good part of Esav has to help the Jews do the tikkun. That’s the Abraham Accords. You’re watching the full satanic force against the good part of Esav which is Trump. People don’t realize what’s going on. It’s an internal war between the good and bad part of Esav. The good part is represented by Trump, the bad by Biden and the Democratic Party and all the forces out to destroy Trump. By furthering the Abraham Accords which he started, Trump would initiate a geula--redemption. You are watching the End of Time. This is what’s predicted. It’s a monumental war going on in which the Satan is trying to survive by destroying the good of Esav, Trump. Looks like he’s doing a great job. This is exactly what happened in 2016. It would be interesting to see the repeat with Trump, by a miracle, winning.
It’s would be very easy for that to happen because, apparently, this country is headed for recession and it could even be a depression. Everybody is predicting it. If you think people will vote for the Democratic Party if there’s a severe recession and about twenty percent of the country is unemployed, of course they won’t. The Ribono Shel Olam laughs at all this.
Not only that, we’re about to witness an amazing scandal; it’s already happening with Twitter, that the White House actually plotted to talk Twitter into not publicizing the Hunter Biden tape. It’s incredible! This scandal can bring down Biden and the entire Democratic Party but that’s nothing compared to what will happen if they find out that Hunter gave money to Biden. Not only did Biden take money thereby compromising himself as being an enemy of America in dealings with China, that’s betrayal in the level of treason and worthy of prison. Biden, apparently, failed to report that of course. He didn’t want people to know he failed to report the millions of dollars that he got from China on his tax return. That’s a felony. He’s in very, very hot water and all of it is beginning now.
So, Trump can win. The Ribono Shel Olam laughs at all this. People are foolish and can’t see past their own noses. They don’t understand the Divine Plan, that the Ribono Shel Olam wants to end the vicious evil of mankind, especially now with the Congressional passage of the Marriage Act that legalizes the interpretation of the Supreme Court’s prohibition against sexual and marriage discrimination. It’s now legal, according to federal law, to marry almost anybody you want. Homosexuality is protected by the law itself.
We don’t know how heaven is reacting to this. There has to come a time when the Ribono Shel Olam said: enough is enough. You guys are destroying My civilization but not only by sinning like Sdom. When religious institutions that must discriminate against same-gender marriage, which, of course, they’ll do because it’s forbidden, the result is unknown. What will happen to religious freedom?
This is a new level of chaos, a new level of sin. It brings in a new level of Divine destruction.
Participant: Mida-kneged-mida—measure for measure...all over the media they’re talking about Trump turning in his tax returns and the audits but they never did that to Biden so (to do so) would be mida-kneged-mida.
R’Kessin: Very good point. They’re trying to find some crime against Trump’s tax returns. It’s unbelievable what they want from the guy. Wouldn’t it be incredible if the downfall of Biden and the Democratic Party would be attributed to Biden’s refusal to put the ill-gotten gains he got from China on his tax return, which is a felony? That would be measure-for-measure—very good point.
Participant: Maybe he’ll be impeached and it would be a double....
R’Kessin: It’s more than just impeachment which would be an act of Congress not a criminal event. They can impeach for anything but they cannot criminalize an impeachment, A felony is a criminal act and that’s a whole different story; that’s prison. It could be handed over to the justice department, not Congress. Different area.
You really have to appreciate Ya’akov and Esav’s story because it’s so pivotal to what is happening now: the fight between subduing evil and bringing down kedusha, the origin of Mashiach ben Yosef and Mashiach ben David, the different jobs of Ya’akov and Esav. All of this is with us today and you have to be really fascinated with the way the Torah deals with this, that it can use one set of psukim--verses to describe two different events. That’s astounding!