וַיִּוָּתֵר יַעֲקֹב לְבַדּוֹ וַיֵּאָבֵק אִישׁ עִמּוֹ עַד עֲלוֹת הַשָּׁחַר

And Yaakov was left alone and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn (32:25)

Rashi, quoting the Gemora explains that Yaakov crossed the river alone to retrieve some small jars that he had left there when he was met by the angel of Eisav who fought with him until daybreak[1]

The Rashbam howevertakes a very novel approach to the episode.

He explains that Yaakov’s intention in crossing the river was not to fetch small jars, he was trying to run away from Eisav!  He knew that his brother was most probably coming to kill him, and he did the most sensible thing –running away in order to sneak into Eretz Yisroel without any confrontation[2]

The Rashbam goes on to explain that the angel who met him was not the angel of Eisav as Rashi says, rather, it was Yaakov’s own angel that was trying to prevent him from escaping from Esav.  Because, by facing someone who was trying to kill him, he would see Hashem’s promise of protection fulfilled[3].

Rabbi Zev Leff learns from this Rashbam that although we are never permitted to go searching for problems, if we happen to be faced with an issue, we are not permitted to just run away without dealing with what is facing us.  And even though running may be the solution, such a decision cannot be taken without thinking through all the consequences.[4]

We are in this world to grow, and this is mainly achieved through successfully climbing over the hurdles that are placed in our way.  They may be difficult, but they are a gift to help us to become better people.  So, in the words of Rav Yitzchak Berkovits when discussing such struggles - “enjoy the challenge”.



[1] Chulin 91a 

[2] The reason why he did not worry for his family was because he knew that Esav did not hold any grievances against his family, only him.

[3] In Parshas Vayeitzei, Hashem said to Yaakov”…וְהִנֵּה אָנכִי עִמָּךְ וּשְׁמַרְתִּיךָ בְּכל אֲשֶׁר תֵּלֵךְ- And behold I am with you and I will guard you wherever you go”(Bereishis 28:15)

[4] As the Kotzker Rebbe said “Haste in action results from laziness in the mind”(MichtavM’Eliyahu, Vol. 5 (p.925))

 

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