LAST TIME THE TWINS WERE TOGETHER, Esav was so consumed by his hatred for
Yaakov that he prayed May the day of my fathers mourning approach so I may kill my
brother Yaakov, (Bereishit 27:41). And so, Yaakov left to learn in
Yeshiva and then live with his uncle Lavan in Padan-Aram, where he married
and raised a family. Now, more
than thirty years later, how does Esav feel?
Has his hatred subsided, or has it intensified?
Returning home to such an ambiguous situation Yaakov realizes that a
confrontation with Esav is inevitable, and consequently prepares for
whatever might happen.
FIRST, THE MESSAGE YAAKOV SENDS ESAV is deferential:
With Lavan have I lived and
I have been detained until now. I
have oxen and donkeys, flocks and servants and maid-servants, and I have
sent word to inform my master, so that I may find favor in your eyes
HIS COMMENTS ON YAAKOVS OPENING WORDS, IM LAVAN GARTI, Rashi notes that
GARTI has the same numerical value (indeed, the same letters, rearranged) as
TARYAG, referring to the 613 Mitzvot
of the Torah. This means, IM
LAVAN GARTI, VTARYAG MITZVOT SHAMARTI With Lavan have I lived, and
I observed, and I did not learn from his wicked ways.
THE HIDDEN PERSUADERS, by Vance Packard? That book exposed the use of
psychological techniques by advertisers to raise sales.
He wrote about subliminal messages and subliminal
projection, defining it as the technique designed to flash messages
past our conscious guard.
CHOICE OF THE WORD GARTI contains a subliminal message: GARTI-TARYAG, I lived with Lavan, but kept the Mitzvot.
MY SAINTED TEACHER, R. MOSHE BESDIN, ZTL, often reminded us of the importance of maintaining the Torahs values when we would leave the Yeshiva for the outside world, a world filled with Lavans. He told us he expected to hear from us, and that all we would have to write were the words from Rashi, IM LAVAN GARTI, VTARYAG MITZVOT SHAMARTI. Many of us satisfied his request.
THIS WAS SURELY A VERY PLEASING message to send to our Rebbi, what is
Yaakovs point in sending it subliminally to Esav?
What does Yaakov hope to accomplish?
Why should the fact that Yaakov still keeps the Mitzvot
impress someone like Esav? Does he care?
MOSHE ALSHEICH EXPLAINS that Yaakovs words contain an even subtler
subliminal message: When you
last knew me, Yaakov intends to say, I was a person easily influenced by my
surroundings, unable to stand up for myself.
At first, I could not stand up to Lavan, either.
But, I have always known what was important the Mitzvot.
And know, that I have become strong I lived with Lavan for twenty
years, and his idolatry did not affect my compliance with Mitzvot.
So, be prepared for a new Yaakov, one who can stand up to you, too.
HAS HAPPENED TO YAAKOV in the past years, and his contacts with Lavan have
had a deleterious effect on Yaakovs outlook on life.
Where once he dreamed of angels traveling between heaven and earth,
eventually his dreams became filled with striped, spotted and blotched
sheep, increased material accomplishments.
So, he was fortunate that Hashem guided him to leave Lavan before the
situation would worsen. Nevertheless,
throughout everything TARYAG MITZVOT SHAMARTI.
UPCOMING CONFRONTATION and reconciliation with Esav will also threaten
Yaakovs spirituality. This,
says the Ramban,
is the message implicit in his wrestling with the angel, the SARO SHEL ESAV,
which will leave him limping: he
will survive the clash of ideologies, but it will bring him to the brink of
destruction. Yet, throughout,
Yaakov will be strong, because TARYAG MITZVOT SHAMARTI.
DONT KNOW WHEN ESAVS BELLIGERENCE changed to acceptance, nor do we
know what brought about the transformation.
Surely, Yaakovs triple strategy of offering, prayer and
war-readiness facilitated the change.
But we cannot discount the effectiveness of Yaakovs first
subliminal message saying that he will be able to confront Esav, because
he has remained true to the will of Hashem.
WILL BE MANY FORCES that will threaten Yaakov.
Some will be openly hostile, like Esav; others will present an
amiable veneer, like Lavan. What all of them
have in common is that they endanger Yaakovs relationship with Hashem.
COMMENT IS A KAL VACHOMER:
one who can resist the Lavans of the world can certainly stand up to
ARE MANY FORCES IN THE WORLD antagonistic to the values of Torah.
Some are openly contentious, while others are more devious.
Some may be foreign, while others are so similar that they look like
POET, e e cummings WROTE, to be nobody --- but yourself --- in a world
that is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else --- means
to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop
The key to our prevailing in that battle is Yaakovs message IM LAVAN GARTI, VTARYAG MITZVOT SHAMARTI.