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The Z'chut of Eretz Yisrael

By: SFW Students & Alumna
Dani Herszfeld (SFW '09)

            This week’s parsha, parshat Vayishlach, begins with the story of the meeting between Yaakov and Eisav. Knowing what we have seen in the previous parshiyot, it would seem that this meeting would not faze Yaakov; after all, he knew that Hashem was on his side. This raises a problem. Why does the Torah mention that Yaakov was scared? It says in pasuk 8: “vayar Yaakov me’od vayetzer lo”, “and Yaakov was very scared and it distressed him”. This is Yaakov Avinu we are talking about! Hashem specifically told Yaakov that he was going to be with him in last week’s parsha. The pasuk there says:

v’heni anochi emach ushmarticha b’chol asher telech v’hashivoticha el ha’adama ha’zot ki lo e’ezvena ad asher im asiti et asher dibarti lach”,

“behold I am with you and I will guard you wherever you go, and I will return you to this soil for I will not forsake you until I will have done what I have spoken”.

If so, how can he possibly be scared? Furthermore, was Yaakov really so scared that the Torah felt the need to say it twice? If Yaakov was scared, it would seem to go without saying that he would be distressed.

            Typically, Rashi gives each word its own meaning. Rashi explains that we learn from the word “vayar” that Yaakov was scared that he would be killed, and we learn from the word “vayetzer” that Yaakov was scared that he himself would come to kill others.

The Siftei Chachamim explains that Yaakov was scared of the grief he would cause his father Yitzchak if he would have to kill his brother Eisav out of self defense. From here, we see the great respect Yaakov had for his father.

            Chazal, however, bring up a new idea. While Eisav was completely engrossed in sin, Yaakov was engrossed in Torah learning and serving Hashem. Chazal explain however, that Yaakov still had a reason to fear Eisav. Yaakov, while running away from Eisav, had no choice but to leave Eretz Yisrael. However, not once in his lifetime did Eisav ever leave. For this reason, Yaakov feared the zechut that Eisav would merit for remaining in Eretz Yisrael. Yaakov feared that perhaps this one zechut of Eisav would outweigh all of his own zechuyot.

            We learn from here the value of Eretz Yisrael. Even Yaakov who understood how much zechut he had, still doubted himself because he thought that the zechut of Eretz Yisrael was greater. Being in Israel for the year, we are so privileged that we can take part in this zechut. May we all be zoche to see the coming of mashiach during our times and be together in Eretz Yisrael, Bimhera Biyameinu.

Shabbat Shalom!


Categorized under: 1: Parshat Shavua > Vayishlach