parshas vayirlach

November 23 Candle Lighting 4:20PM Shabbos Ends 5:27 Note: Times are for Bensalem; Check your local calendar for exact times in your area This week we read Parshas Vayishlach. The Torah describes the encounter between Jacob and Esau as they met after over twenty years of separation. Before they finally met, we are told of another encounter that Jacob had. “And Jacob was left alone, and a man struggled with him until the morning star rose… And he saw that he could not defeat him, so he struck his socket of his hip,…And he said let me leave for the morning has come. .. And he told him I will not let you go unless you bless me… Therefore the Jewish people don’t eat the displaced sinew (sciatic nerve) on the hip socket to this day… (Genesis 32:25-33) Who was this man who struggled with Jacob? Why did he have to leave at daybreak? Our sages teach us that this “man” was really the angel of Esau. When the sun rose, he had to go and say Shira, the angels’ praise of G-d. When he was unable to kill Jacob, he wounded him by harming his sciatic nerve. That is why we don’t eat the sciatic nerve in any animal. Why is it that this angel came to fight only with Jacob? Why didn’t he attack Abraham or Isaac? The Chofetz Chaim explained that each of our Patriarchs stood for a different special quality. Abraham stood for kindness. Isaac stood for prayer, or service of G-d. Jacob stood for study of Torah. The angel of Esau, explains the Chofetz Chaim, can accept doing kindness. He can even accept service of Hashem and prayer. The one thing he absolutely can’t accept under any circumstances is the study of Torah. This is why he fought with Jacob, from all the Patriarchs, who represents the study of Torah. The Gaon of Vilna was once approached by someone who was speaking for a large audience. He asked him, if I must focus on one theme in my speech, what theme should that be? The Vilna Gaon told him to focus on Torah study. He explained that as soon as a person is committed to study on an ongoing basis, everything else that they do in their observance will be improved. This is why the angel attacked Jacob specifically. This underscores the importance of our own commitment to Torah study on an ongoing basis. Whatever our individual level of observance may be, if we commit ourselves to the study of Torah on an ongoing basis, we certainly will find favor in the eyes of Hashem.