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RABBI WAGENSBERG ON PARSHAS VAYISHLACH

16 Kislev, 5780; December 14, 2019 "Two Exiles Under Two Major Gentiles" One of the ways in which Ya'akov prepared for his meeting with Eisav was by dividing his family and possessions into two groups (Parshas Vayishlach, 32:8). Ya'akov reasoned that even if Eisav was to strike one camp down, the other one would survive (Parshas Vayishlach, 32:9). In his Sefer Eitz Hada'as Tov, Reb Chaim Vital (1543 Italy - 1620 Syria) teaches that by splitting his family into two parts, Ya'akov was preparing the way for the Jewish people who would be living during the last and fourth exile. Ya'akov foresaw that the fourth exile would be the longest and most difficult exile that the Jewish people would have to endure. Ya'akov was concerned that maybe the Jewish people would be completely destroyed in that exile. Therefore, Ya'akov did something that would ensure our survival. By dividing his family into two groups, Ya'akov was paving the way for the Jews who would be alive during the fourth exile. The two groups of Ya'akov's family represented that the Jewish people would be split in half and find themselves under the authority of two major nations during the fourth exile. Half of the Jews would fall under the authority of the Christians which is called "Galus Edom" because Edom is Rome and Rome became Christian. The other half of Jews would fall under the authority of the Arabs which is called "Galus Yishmael." Being governed by two different powers is extremely beneficial for the Jewish people. This is because if one of the two governing bodies decides to overly oppress us, we will be able to find reprieve by the other governing body. If living under one authority becomes unbearable, we will be able to escape and live with the other authority. Reb Chaim Vital says that this is what Ya'akov meant when he said, "If Eisav comes to one camp and strikes it down..." Meaning, if the Christians (Eisav) enacts harsh decrees of forced conversion to Christianity and of expulsion, "Then, the remaining camp will survive." Meaning, then we will be able to move to the countries governed by Yishmael. For example, Spain was a Christian country. Back in the day, the Jewish people thrived in Spain. We had many great Tzaddikim who lived there. For instance, the Rosh, Rambam, Ramban, and Rif were in Spain at some point in their lives. It was a Golden Era. But then the inquisition came. Jews were forced to turn away from their religion. Any Jew who refused was brutally murdered. Eventually, we were expelled from Spain. What happened next was that Jews found a safe haven in Arab countries. For example, at one time the Arizal lived in Egypt. Reb Chaim Vital settled in Syria. The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh lived in Morocco. Reb Yosef Caro, the Alshich, and Reb Shlomo Alkabetz lived in Turkey at some point in time. The Ben Ish Chai lived in Iraq. As a result, Jews flourished under the authority of Yishmael. When the Arabs kicked us out of their countries, Jews settled in the United States of America, England, France, and Canada. We have been knocked around like a ping pong balls, dwelling in the countries of the west, then fleeing to the countries in the east, and then returning to the west. This process was a fulfilment of Ya'akov Avinu's wise decision to split his family into two groups. This was a precursor, like the old adage, "Ma'aseh Avos Siman L'banim" (what the Patriarchs did was a sign of what would happen with their descendants; Tanchuma, Parshas Lech Lecha, 9). If his children, B'nei Yisrael, would be split into two camps, then, his later descendants, B'nei Yisrael, would also be split under the authority of two governing nations, Edom and Yishmael. The Arizal (Likkutei Torah, Parshas Ki Seitzei) says that there is a source which supports this idea that Eisav and Yishmael partnered together concerning the fourth exile. All four exiles are represented by the statue in the dream of Nevuchadnetzar (Babylonian King). The golden head of that statue (Daniel, 2:32) represented the Babylonian Exile. The two silver arms (ibid) represented the exiles of Media and Persia. The copper belly (ibid) represented the Greek Exile, and the two copper legs (ibid) represented the fourth exile. If the fourth exile is only one exile, why were there two legs in Nevuchadnetzar's dream? It must be that the two legs represent the two parts of the fourth exile. There is the Edom (Christian) part of the fourth galus, and there is the Yishmael (Arab) part of the fourth galus. The Megaleh Amukos (Parshas Vayeitzei) adds another support which shows that Eisav partnered with Yishmael. This was when Eisav married Yishmael's daughter, Machalas. This was done in order to become partners in the fourth exile. In fact, the verse that reports Eisav's marriage to Machalas, begins with the words, "Vayeilech Eisav" (and Eisav went; Parshas Toldos, 28:9). The Torah emphasizes "Vayeilech" (and he went) because in order to "go," one must use his feet. This word "Vayeilech" hints to the two legs in Nevuchadnetzar's dream which represent the dual exile of Eisav and Yishmael that will co-exist during the fourth exile (Shvilei Pinchas). It is extremely beneficial for the Jewish people that we have been scattered amongst the many nations. This has prevented the nations from aligning together to destroy the Jewish people. Since Jews are found living in different countries, the nations find it hard to join forces to exterminate the Jews. This is because different nations have different agendas and different interests. The nations cannot agree upon when to destroy the Jews, how to destroy the Jews, and who takes credit for destroying the Jews (See Pesachim, chap. 8, "Ha-isha", pg. 87b, Rebbi Oshaya). These differences amongst the nations have kept us alive. This is why when two nations (who tortured the Jewish people) are at war with each other, the Jewish blessing has always been, "May both sides have tremendous success." At this point, let us add some more information to explain another striking element found in this week's parsha. The messengers that Ya'akov sent to Eisav (Parshas Vayishlach, 32:4), were no ordinary messengers. They were angels (Rashi ibid, citing Bereishis Rabba, Parshas Vayishlach, 75:4, the opinion of the Rabanan). We do not find Ya'akov summoning angels for any other project that he wanted to accomplish. Why did he specifically summon angels to greet Eisav? Let us begin to address this question. One of the messages that Ya'akov sent to Eisav was that although he lived by Lavan; nevertheless, he kept all 613 mitzvos (Rashi, citing Midrash Aggadah, Parshas Vayishlach, 32:5). Many commentaries ask how Ya'akov could claim to have kept all 613 mitzvos. There are certain mitzvos that he could not have possibly kept. For example, the mitzva of living in Eretz Yisrael. One cannot fulfil that mitzva by living in chutz la'aretz. The Djikover Rebbe (Rabbi Meir Horowitz, 1819-1877, Poland) answers this in his Imrei Noam by saying that Ya'akov was Shomer Shabbos (He observed the Sabbath; Shabbos, chap. 16, "Kol Kisvei", pg. 118a, based on Yeshaya, 58:14). The Midrash (Shemos Rabba, Parshas Beshalach, 25:12, Rebbi Levi) says that when one keeps Shabbos, he is credited with keeping all 613 mitzvos. Therefore, when Ya'akov said that he kept all 613 mitzvos, he meant that he observed Shabbos, and as a result of that he was credited as if he fulfilled all 613 mitzvos. The Djikover Rebbe continues to say that this will reveal the identity of the angels that Ya'akov sent to Eisav. Those angels were Shabbos Angels, meaning, the two Shabbos angels that enter into a person's home on Friday night (Shabbos, chap. 16, "Kol Kisvei", pg. 119b). Since Ya'akov was a Shomer Shabbos, he had access to those angels and sent them to Eisav. There is a hint which supports this notion. The Gemara in Shabbos (ibid) tells us that one of the two angels that enters into a person's home on Friday night is good, while the other angel is bad. When they see "Ner Daluk" (that the candles are lit for Shabbos), and "Shulchan Aruch" (that the table is set for Shabbos), and "Mitaso Mutza'as" (that the beds are made for Shabbos), the good angel offers a prayer by saying, "May next Shabbos be like this Shabbos." Then, the bad angel is forced to answer, "Amen!" We see from this Gemara that the angels search for three things to determine if this person is Shomer Shabbos: 1) Ner Daluk, 2) Shulchan Aruch, and 3) Mitaso Mutza'as. These three items are hinted to in Rashi (Parshas Vayishlach, 32:4, citing the Rabanan in Bereishis Rabba, Parshas Vayishlach, 75:4). When the verse said that Ya'akov sent "Malachim" (messengers), Rashi and the Midrash commented, "Malachim Mammash" (actual angels). The word "mammash" is not just a word. In this instance, it is an acronym. The first mem of mammash stands for the word "Menorah" (candelabra, which represents the Ner Daluk). The second mem of mammash stands for the word "mita" (bed, which represents Mitaso Mutza'as). The shin of mammash stands for the word "shulchan" (table, representing Shulchan Aruch). This teaches us that the Malachim which Ya'akov sent to Eisav were the angels of Ya'akov's Shemiras Shabbos (Sabbath observance). The Mateh Moshe (Rabbi Moshe Perzemyzel, 1550-1606, Galicia; Amud Ha'avoda, chap. 435) adds that the Friday night bad angel is none other than Saro Shel Eisav (Eisav's guardian angel). When a person observes Shabbos, he is capable of transforming Eisav's bad angel into a good one. We see this from the fact that the bad angel responds "Amen" to the prayer of the good angel. Why would a bad angel do that, unless he was transformed into a good angel? The Shvilei Pinchas adds that there is a hint in Ya'akov's name which indicated that he had the power to transform a bad angel into a good one. The name "Ya'akov" is numerically 182. The number 182 is the same numerical value of the words, "Malach Malach" (angel angel. Each word "Malach equals 91. 91 X 2 = 182). This numerical equivalency teaches us that "Ya'akov" had the power to transform a bad "Malach" into a good "Malach." The Shvilei Pincha says that this is why Ya'akov suddenly summoned angels to send to Eisav. It is because these were Shabbos angels. One of which was Saro Shel Eisav who turned good. Therefore, Ya'akov sent these angels to Eisav hoping that just as he succeeded in turning Eisav's bad angel into a good one, this angel would have a positive effect on Eisav and transform him from a foe into a friend. Although Ya'akov would transform Eisav's angel into a good angel every Shabbos, once Shabbos was out, Saro Shel Eisav would revert back into being a bad angel. This explains why Eisav's angel attacked Ya'akov when he (Ya'akov) went back for the small flasks (Parshas Vayishlach, 32:25, Rashi citing Bereishis Rabba, Parshas Vayishlach, 77:3, Rebbi Cham B'Rebbi Chanina). It is because he (Eisav's angel) was bad and wanted to harm Ya'akov who stood for everything that he fought against. However, Ya'akov won that battle against Saro Shel Eisav in the merit of his Shemiras Shabbos. This is evident from their dialogue during their wrestling match. Ya'akov said to Saro Shel Eisav, "I will not let you go unless you bless me" (Parshas Vayishlach, 32:27). Lo and behold, a few verses later it says, "And he (Eisav's angel) blessed him there" (Parshas Vayishlach, 32:30). Why would Eisav's bad angel want to suddenly bless Ya'akov with all of the blessings that Yitzchak had blessed him with (Rashi, Parshas Vayishlach, 32:27, citing Midrash Aggadah) if just a moment ago he wanted to kill him? It must be that Eisav's angel became good again. This transformation is reminiscent of what happens every Friday night when Eisav's angel blesses the Shomer Shabbos with another holy Shabbos the following week. It must be that Ya'akov won the battle with Saro Shel Eisav in the merit of Shabbos because Shemiras Shabbos has this power of transformation. While Eisav's angel was still good, Ya'akov immediately sent him to Eisav hoping that the transformed angel would have a positive impact on Eisav turning him from a foe into a friend also. Thus far, we have two ideas on the table, 1) Galus Edom is split into two exiles, Galus Eisav and Galus Yishmael and 2) the power of Shabbos. We are now going to combine these two ideas to see how Shemiras Shabbos is instrumental in separating Eisav and Yishmael. We are familiar with the concept that there are 70 nations of the world. However, the B'nei Yissasschar (Shabbasos, 1:10) quoting the Megaleh Amukos (Parshas Lech Lecha, pg. 16a) says that the 70 nations are divided into two groups. 35 nations on one side and another 35 nations on the other side. One set of 35 nations pledge allegiance to their leader, Eisav, which brings their number to 36 nations, and the other set of 35 nations pledge allegiance to their leader, Yishmael, which brings their number to 36 nations. In total, there are really 72 nations of the world. The Hebrew word "Eileh" represents one set of 35 nations with their leader making it 36 nations. This is because the word "Eileh" is spelled: aleph, lamed and hey. The letters lamed and hey are numerically 35. The first letter aleph, which is numerically 1, represents the leader of those 35 nations. Now we can understand the Bris Bein Habesarim (Covenant Between the Parts) a little bit better. At the Bris Bein Habesarim, Hashem revealed future exiles to Avraham Avinu. The 400 years of Galus Mitzrayim was mentioned openly. The other exiles were hinted to as well. The verse says, "And he (Avraham) took 'Kol Eileh' (all these [animals]) to Him (God), and he cut them in the center" (Parshas Lech Lecha, 15:10). Those animals represented the nations of the world that would oppress the Jewish people during the various exiles. We can see this from the words, "Kol Eileh." The word "Eileh" represents 36 nations through its numerical value. The word "Kol" means that we should take "all" of the sets of 36 nations. Since there are only two sets of 36 nations, the word "Kol" tells us to take "both" sets of 36 nations. Then the verse goes on to say that Avraham was told by Hashem to "cut" those animals in the "center." At least with respect to the fourth exile, this meant that Galus Edom would be "split" in "half," with 35 nations under the authority of Eisav, and another 35 nations under the authority of Yishmael. Avraham, however, was in the center of those two sets of animals. This foretold that Avraham's descendants, the Jewish people, would be caught in the crossfire of these two superpowers. As ironic as it would seem, this was actually beneficial for the Jewish people because if things got too oppressive for the Jews who would be living under one authority, they would find a temporary haven by moving to the countries under the other authority. This will help us understand a well-known verse on a slightly deeper level. It says, "Eileh Varechev V'Eileh Vasoosim" (some with chariots and some with horses; Tehillim, 20:8). The verse is hinting that there are "Eileh" (36 nations) opposite "Eileh" (another 36 nations). Each one has their own method of how to get things done. However, "Va'anachnu BiSheim Hashem Elokeinu Nazkir" (but we, in the Name of Hashem our God, call out; ibid). Meaning, we are caught in the middle of these two empires, and we call out to Hashem for assistance to help us maneuver between them in such a way that will ensure our survival. Now, it is important to mention that one secret to the success of our survival is the observance of Shabbos. The Megaleh Amukos makes a beautiful observation. Jews celebrate Shabbos on Saturday. Christians celebrate their Sabbath on Sunday, and Muslims celebrate their Sabbath on Friday. It turns out that out Shabbos is what comes between their "Sabbaths." This teaches us that through the observance of Shabbos, we can separate Eisav from Yishmael. This separation between Eisav and Yishmael is advantageous for the Jewish people because in this way they cannot join forces for the purpose of exterminating the Jewish people. The Shvilei Pinchas adds that we can now appreciate the concept of tosefes Shabbos (adding to Shabbos) a little bit better. When we bring in Shabbos a little bit earlier, we wind up pushing the Muslim Sabbath a little further away. When we take Shabbos out a little later, we wind up pushing the Christian Sabbath a little further away. In so doing, we have successfully created more distance between Eisav and Yishmael which prevents them from joining forces for the purpose of annihilating the Jewish people. Moreover, by bringing Shabbos in a little earlier and by taking Shabbos out a little later, we cross their lines and weaken their Sabbaths which in turn weakens them. This makes them less capable of hurting us. Based on all of this, the Neizer Kodesh (on Bereishis Rabba, 11:8) cites the Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim, 271:22) who quotes the Arizal (Sha'ar Hakavanos (Inyan Kiddush) which is based on the Zohar (Preface, pg. 5b) who says that according to one nusach (text) of kiddush on Friday night, there are 70 words altogether. This means to say that the first paragraph of "Vayechulu" contains 35 words (when you start counting from the word "Vayechulu," and not from "Yom Hashishi"), and the second paragraph, which is the Beracha of Kiddush, contains 35 words (when you leave out the words, ""Ki Hu Yom" and "Ki Vanu Vacharta V'osanu Kidashta Mikol Ha'amim"). This teaches us that through the observance of Shabbos (represented by the recitation of kiddush), we can separate the two sets of 35 nations from each other so that they do not align themselves with each other for the purpose of destroying the Jewish people. There are several practical applications that we could implement based on this teaching: 1) Let us prepare for Shabbos nice and early. Besides the general cleaning, let us try to be the one privileged to arrange the candles, set the table, and make the beds for Shabbos. While engaging in these activities, keep in mind that, due to our efforts, when Eisav's bad angel enters into the home on Friday night, he will be transformed into a good angel which just might have a positive impact on the nations around us, turning them from enemies into friends. 2) Let us try to bring in Shabbos a little bit earlier and take it out a little bit later, and keep in mind that by doing so we are creating more distance between Eisav and Yishmael so that they do not join forces to obliterate us. Also keep in mind that through tosefes Shabbos, we are infiltrating their territories and we are weakening them so that they do not have the power to annihilate us. 3) During Kiddush on Friday night, let us keep in mind that our Shemiras Shabbos should separate one set of 35 nations from the other. Even if we do say extra words in the second paragraph bringing the number to 45 words, there are still 35 words within the 45. Concentrate on them with the intent that the nations should be weakened so that they do not possess the power to harm us. (Everybody should follow their minhag. If one does not have a minhag, one should ask his/her Rav how to proceed). 4) Let us brush up a little bit more on Hilchos Shabbos. Perhaps at least one halacha could be shared at each meal. This will help us observe Shabbos even better. 5) Let us try and improve on our Oneg Shabbos and ensure that there is a good measure of eating, singing, and merry making as this is also part of Shemiras Shabbos. All of this will help us quash our enemies. So, may we all be blessed to be true Shomrei Shabbos like our forefather Ya'akov, and weaken the twisted forces of Eisav and Yishamael by separating them and the 70 nations under them, so that they never join forces to destroy us, creating an environment which will provide relief for us even during the most intense of situations, by turning a foe into a friend, which will appear to be like an angel sent from heaven, until the time that Hakadosh Baruch Hu Matzileinu Miyadam forever by ushering in the Yom Shekulo Shabbos. Good Shabbos, Warmest wishes, Aba Wagensberg

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