Roy Neuberger - Dec. 13, 2019

Two weeks ago we contemplated the epic struggle between our Father Jacob and his twin brother Esav. I would like to focus on this more intently, because it concerns us both individually and nationally.

Two weeks ago, in the Portion of Toldos we read about sunset: “[Jacob] encountered the place and spent the night there because the sun had set…” (Genesis 18:11) This week, the sun rises: “Jacob was left alone and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn.” (Genesis 32:25) Last week, Jacob was going into exile; this week, sunrise signals the end of exile.

The struggle between Jacob and the angel of Esav lasts the entire night. This is understood to represent our long exile. It appears that this conflict will not end until Moshiach comes. (Midrash Rabbah 77:3; Rashi on Genesis 32:25)

Is it possible to end this struggle early?

We saw in Parshas Toldos how the outer struggle with Esav mirrors the inner struggle against the evil inclination. With that in mind, please contemplate these remarkable words: “Strengthen yourself, my dear one, strengthen yourself, and envelope yourself with the fortitude to engross yourself in Torah…. With just a little more [effort], you will be able to come to grips with your yetzer hara. Then his defeat will be total, and he will no longer bother you. Just overcome him today, and he will be your faithful servant for all time.” (Letter from the Chazon Ish to a student, In the Shadow of the Great, page 33)

Perhaps we can, so to speak, make our own “sunrise.” And if we can make a “personal” sunrise and overcome the evil inclination, can we then make a “national” sunrise and end our exile now?

Yehoshua (Joshua) was able to alter the sun’s course, as it says, “Sun, stand still at Giv’on, and moon in the Valley of Ayalon.” (Yehoshua 10:12)

King David says, “Awake, my soul … I shall awaken the dawn.” (Psalm 57:8)

Can we awaken the dawn? After all, “The will of those who fear Him, He will do …” (Psalm 145) Perhaps, if we want it enough, just as we usher in Shabbos early, perhaps we can usher in the sunrise of redemption.

It will not be easy. The world today is a swirling dust-storm which almost totally obscures the Light of Torah. As our Rabbis teach us concerning Jacob’s struggle, “Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said … [in the course of their fighting] they raised dust unto the Throne of Glory ….” (Chullin 91a) But Jacob never gives up!

Nor can we! “I yearn for my Lord, among those longing for the dawn, those longing for the dawn. Let Israel hope for Hashem … for with Him is abundant redemption.” (Psalm 130)

Why are the words “longing for the dawn” repeated? Even when hope seems lost, we must keep repeating these words and crying out to Hashem!

Similarly we repeat:“ka’ve el Hashem … Hope to Hashem, strengthen yourself and He will give you courage, and hope to Hashem!” (Psalm 27)

May we see the eternal sunrise soon in our days!




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