Battling the Angel and our own Yatsa Horra What follows Yaakov’s preparation is the need to fight, but not in the way he expected. One of the most famous episodes in the Torah unfolds with his struggle with the angel and there are valuable lessons to be learnt from this episode which is brimming with coded messages and advice.
“Yaakov was left alone and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn” [32:25].
Now who was this ‘man’? As we all know he was an angel but when we think of angels we think of winged, white, friendly things complete with halos as depicted in the movies, this angel was far from this however
Commentators have identified him as the guardian angel of Esav and just as Esav epitomizes evil, so to his angel is the prime spiritual force of evil- Satan himself. As it is written in Gemara Bava Basra (16a); “satan descends and seduces man to sin, then he ascends to incite G-d by prosecuting man for his sinfulness, and then he receives permission to take man’s life… Satan, the Evil Inclination (Yatsa Horra), and the Angel of Death are one and the same”.
The first observation which should be made is that Yaakov gets attacked when he is on his own, this a fundamental lesson of avoiding the Yatsa Horra in life, it usually gets you when your on your own! It’s always going to be when no one else is in the house that you raid the fridge or decide that watching a five hour marathon of football isn’t so bad! But this is also a key lesson in life, you shouldn’t just follow your own path, it is fundamental in Judaism to be part of a community, have a wife/husband, daven in minyons as you are far more likely to do mitzvahs and avoid the temptation of the Yatsa Horra when you have that support.
“When he perceived that he could not overcome him, he struck the socket of his hip; so Jacob’s hip-socket was dislocated as he wrestled with him” [32:26].
Just when Yaakov is winning the battle, bang, the angel knocks him in the hip! The only way for us to fight the evil inclination is through Torah study, and the only way we can be stopped from doing this is when our support is struck. By hitting Yaakov in the hip the angel is de-stabilizing Yaakov, as it is difficult to stand on a dislocated hip. This is all too apparent today with vast numbers returning to torah learning in yeshivas and cholels across the world the only way the Yatsa Horra can fight against this is by knocking out our support in the form of a world recession, which has unfortunately left them debt ridden and in dire need of funding.
BUT Yaakov struggles on and this is a lesson that how ever bad the conditions are, you need to carry on and shteig hard! A famous midrash says that the dust being kicked up from Yaakov’s wrestling with the angel rose so high that it reached the throne of Hashem. What is this coming to tell us? Hashem recognizes our struggles and they reach him, the outcome might not always be successful but it is the effort that Hashem wants to see. Someone might spend days trying to figure out a certain section of the gemara and come up with nothing but we still need to struggle on because Hashem recognizes your battles and this is what means the most to him. Eventually you will win the battle but the more effort the better.
On that note I wish you success in all your struggles and battles and I hope that Hashem recognizes them and merits you accordingly. Have a fantastic Shabbat and I hope you have enjoyed my first (written) Dvar Torah, feedback appreciated!! Daniel Sandground, (student at Ohr Somayach Yeshiva, Jerusalem)
Did you know… ישראל the new name granted to Yaakov in this weeks sedra includes the names of all our patriarchs and matriarchs!
י… Yitzhak and Yaakov
ר… Rachel and Rivkah