The Torah tells us (1) “And Yaaqob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn…And he (the mystery man) said, “Let me go, for dawn is breaking,” but he (Yaaqob) said, “I will not let you go unless you have blessed me.” First off, who was this man? Second, why did he fight Yaaqob? Didn’t he know that Hashem said that he would guard Yaaqob? Third, why did Yaaqob ask him for a blessing?
These questions are answered by three different Mefarshim: the first by Zohar (2) ,the second by Rav Yaakov Abuhasira (3) Rav Elchonon Wasserman, and the Shela (4). Let us briefly answer the first answer: the “person” that fought Yaaqob was the “Samech Mem”, also known as the Satan.
The second question has two different answers. The first goes as follows (Rav Abuhasira). The word Yaaqob is: Yod Ayin Kof and Bet, while the word Yaabeq (wrestle) which is used in the Pasuk is: Yod Alef Kof Bet. What is the difference between the two? The Ayin and the Alef. Each letter represents something. Yod- Yihud (oneness), Ayin- Anawa (humility), Kof- Kedusha (holiness), and Bet- Beracha (blessing). A few chapters ago we learn that Yaaqob married two sisters, Rahel and Leah. The word Ahayot- sisters is what this Pasuk is trying to tell us; Yaaqob married two sisters, and that is why he went after him! The Satan thought that if he married two sisters he will have power. Why? Because the only thing that get rid of the Satan is Anawa- humility, and once Yaaqob married two sisters, he removed the humility from his name leaving space for the Satan to attack him.
The second answer teaches us a very important Yesod-foundation of Judaism. Rav Elchonon Wasserman tells us something brilliant. Why did the Satan wait for Yaaqob? Why didn’t he fight Abraham or Yitzhaq? The answer is, because the only thing that separates us from the other nations is the Torah! What did Yaaqob represent? Torah, that is why the Satan chased him. It isn’t that Abraham-Hesed and Yitzhaq-Tefila/Aboda aren’t important, it is that the Torah separates us from the nation and promises us the continuity of our nation. THE LESSON: set times to learn Torah because it is the only thing that will keep our nation lasting.
The answer to the third question goes as follows. All angels have at least good, some have evil, but all angels have some good in them. At the end of Yaaqob wrestling the angel, he said something strange: “bless me”. Why did he ask for a blessing at that exact time? The Shela answers, because that was the Satan time of his good. Because as we mentioned before all angels have good, but when the portray it is only at specific times. Yaaqob knew that this was the time of good for this angel and wanted to capitalize and get that blessing. THE LESSON: the lesson here is, for example, one can have a very funny joke but if he says it while someone is in mourning it won’t be that funny. However, one can have not so funny joke, and says it while people are already in a joking mood, people will laugh because it is timed correctly. Same thing in life, we have to learn how to be wise and time things correctly.
1) Bereshit 32:15-18
3) Mahsof HaLaban Wayishlah
4) Shela pg. 128
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