In this week's
parsha we see how Yaakov Avinu employed a three-pronged strategy
in preparation for the confrontation with his brother Esav: battle,
prayer, and tribute.
At the conclusion
of his prayer Yaakov says as follows, "And You had said, 'I
will surely do good with you, and I will make your offspring like
the sand of the sea which is too numerous to count(Bereishis,32,13).'"
that although Hashem had directly promised Yaakov, "and your
offspring will be as the dust of the earth," Hashem had made
the aforementioned promise to his grandfather Avraham in reference
Why did Yaakov refer to the promise made to Avraham rather than
to the promise made directly to him?
is that at the beginning of Yaakov's prayer he says, "Rescue
me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esav,
for I fear him lest he come and strike me down, mother and children."
Why did Yaakov
Avinu have to pray specifically for salvation "from the hand
of Esav"? He had already asked for salvation "from the
hand of my brother," and he only had one brother so either
part of the prayer should have sufficed.
Reb Yoshe Ber
Soloveitchick, the Beis HaLevi, explains that Yaakov's prayer was
twofold. Firstly, he requested salvation from the hand of Esav,
who still harbored hatred and desired to kill him. And secondly,
he prayed for salvation from the hand of his brother, who might
demonstrate brotherly love and cause Yaakov to become enamored with
him, but ultimately, Yaakov would be in danger of falling victim
to the negative influences of Esav's culture.
sheds light on Yaakov Avinu's decision to utilize Hashem's promise
to his grandfather Avraham Avinu in his prayer. Yaakov Avinu viewed
that promise as a dual one: a promise of quantity, "I will
make your offspring too numerous to count," and a promise of
quality, "I will make your offspring as the sand of the sea."
Day after day,
week after week, the waves of the sea pound against the sand that
contains them, yet the sand remains unchanged. The water has no
impact on the sand, but dust, on the other hand, turns immediately
into mud when it comes in contact with water.
Yaakov Avinu referred to the promise Hashem made to Avraham Avinu
in praying that the offspring of Avraham possess the quality of
sand so that they will be able to withstand the negative influences
of Esav's culture.
continue to protect us from the hands of our "brothers"
and from the hands of the descendants of Esav.