Tidbits of Torah

Keeping our Spirits Up       

  Shabbat Parashat VaYishlach

December 2, 2017- 14 Kislev 5778
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Three wonderful Chasidic teachings, based on this week’s Torah portion of VaYishlach, shed light on the secret of Jewish survival throughout the ages.
The Torah tell us that Jacob sent messengers (or angels) ahead of him as he was about to meet up with his brother Esau for the first time in over twenty years.  The level of animosity between the brothers was deadly when they had parted so many years earlier.  I am sure Jacob was wondering what would happen when he returned home and faced his brother once again….So, Jacob sent messengers (or angels) ahead of him.
One Chasidic master, The Apter Rebbe, taught that the very same messengers (or angels) that Jacob sent ahead of him in Biblical times would always be ready to go ahead of our people in generations to come to try to mitigate any difficult situations that we might face.
When Jacob dispatched the messengers (or angels) they were charged with helping him. But, at the same time, Jacob also charged these messengers with the task of taking care of his descendants throughout the generations.  Thanks to Jacob’s charge, these messengers (or angels) became messengers with an eternal mission.
What The Apter Rebbe was teaching us was that we always have angels prepared to help us navigate difficult waters.
But what if we don’t “connect” to the concept of messengers (or angels) with eternal missions?
Another Chasidic master, The Kotzker Rebbe, taught that when the Torah tells us that Jacob dispatched messengers (or angels) ahead of his rendezvous with Esau, the Torah was telling us that Jacob actually dismissed the messengers (or angels).  Jacob said to himself:  I don’t need angels.  My faith in God is enough – without angels.  My faith in God will help me deal with this situation.
What The Kotzker Rebbe was teaching was that in difficult situations, we can learn from Jacob that if we put our faith in God, we can move forward to face the future, no matter what it may bring.
Whether we believe in angels or not…A third Chasidic master, Reb Naftali of Rufschitz, taught that when the Torah tells us: VaYishlach Yaakov [and Jacob sent…], the Torah was reminding us that especially when we are faced with a difficult situation, we should first banish the “Vay.
What does it mean to banish the “Vay?”
Based on the Yiddish meaning of Vay,  banishing the “Vay” means: we should banish our tears; and, we should banish our fears.   That is what Jacob sent away ahead of his meeting with Esau.  His tears and his fears were banished so that he could move forward as he did.
What Reb Naftali was teaching us was that no matter what we face in life, keeping our spirits up is key to moving forward and to overcoming the challenges of the day!
Three wonderful Chasidic teachings, all based on our Torah portion, remind us that the secret of Jewish survival throughout the generations is to keep our spirits up, to stay positive, to have faith, and to take the necessary steps to address the challenges of our day.
Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Gilah Dror