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Bat Ayin: Vayishlach: The Confrontation Between Good & Evil



The 12th of Kislev is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Avraham Dov Auerbach of Avritch and Tzefas (1765-1840). He was a disciple of Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev and the first two Rebbes of Chernobyl. Rebbe of Avritch from 1785, he moved to Tzefas in 1830 at the age of 65. He is the author of Bas Ayin, a commentary on Chumash. In the deadly earthquake of 24 Tevet 5597 (January 1, 1837), 5,000 people lost their lives, of whom 4,000 were Jews. Although most of the shul of the Avritcher Rebbe collapsed, the part where the men were clustered remained upright and everyone was saved. He is buried in the old cemetery of Tzefas.

“And Jacob sent angels before him to Esau his brother, to the land of Seir, the fields of Edom.” We can explain this verse in the manner of Mussar:

Yaakov and Eisav represent the Yetzer tov and the Yeter Harah in the heart of a person. The Angel of Eisav is the source of the Yetzer Harah, the place from which it draws increasing strength and power. It exists as “Gasut Haruach,” arrogance of spirit, a thick coating of the spirit that prevents it from receiving spiritual sustenance. This ‘thickness’ develops through a person ‘feeding’ his physical desires to the distraction from his spiritual goals.

When a person eats and drinks to abundance, he becomes more physical, and less spiritual. A thick coating develops and he becomes arrogant in spirit, as the verse teaches, “Lest you eat and are satisfied, and your heart rises in arrogance and you forget God, your Lord.”  Over indulgence leads to forgetting God, arrogance and ‘thickness.’

The righteous man, on the other hand, eats only what he needs to live as “Histapkus,” contentment with just a little.

This is the meaning of the verse, “The heart of the wise man is to the right, and the heart of the fool to the left;” the wise man’s heart is to the right of the letters ‘lamed’ and ‘vet’ – the ‘aleph’ and ‘chaf’ – which spell ‘ach’ – ‘it is enough,’ – as the Sages teach “Acin v’rakin mimaatin” – the words ‘ach’ and ‘rak’ always limit.

The fools heart is always to the right of ‘lev’ – heart – the ‘lamed’ and ‘vet’ – which are the ‘gimel’ and ‘samech’ – which spell ‘gass’ – or ‘thick’ – as in Gasus Haruach.

This is why the Sages teach, “For you are the fewest – ‘ha’mi’at’ – among the nations,” hints to our willingness to be ‘mi’ma’eit’ – accept less, as righteous people.

“A man – ‘Ish’ – battled with him,” ‘Ish’ contains ‘yaish’ – to have – Yaakov’s battle with the ‘Ish’ was a battle between those who are only interested in more, ‘Gasus’ and Yaakov who practices Histapkut.

The Angel of Eisav wanted to corrupt Yaakov with a desire for ‘yaish’ – more physical things. Yaakov fought back until he achieved the clarity of Panim el Panim – absolute clarity in His relationship with God, and was able to achieve the level of the Highest Ministering Angels.

When Yaakov was ready to reenter Israel, he wanted to enter to a higher, holier and more spiritual place. He was frightened of his Yetzer Harah, and sent Angels before him to protect himself.

“Vayishlach Yaakov Malachim  L’fanav” – V Y M L – spells Vayamal – he circumcised his heart.” I heard this from the Holy Rebbe of Apta, but do not remember how he developed the idea. (Bat Ayin – Vayishlach 1)

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