Parshat Vayishlach: Dealing with evil (III)

“And Jacob was left alone, and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.” (Genesis 32:25)

Our sages say that the children of Israel reflect the lives of their patriarchs. In this premise we realize that Israel has fought his enemies alone, and his struggles against evil (represented by his brother Esau) have had no end in his journey through the long night of history.

The verse tells us that this struggle indeed has an end when “the breaking of the day” is expected to come. This coming day is conditional to winning the constant war to defeat evil. As we have mentioned in our other commentaries on this portion of the Torah, the verse states that there were no breaks o rest in Jacob’s fight. We learn from this a few things.

First, that evil is a formidable enemy, but not stronger than the goodness represented by Jacob; thus goodness is destined to prevail. Second, Jacob never gave up in his struggle because he understood it as a fight for his existence, in order also to make goodness prevail as God’s will for His creation. Third, that the struggle takes place in the darkest period of humankind, when goodness has to be defended as the true source and sustenance of life. Fourth, the confrontation between good and evil is not eternal, and it has an end, with which another era begins when goodness will dwell alone in human consciousness, as it remained alone in its struggle to defeat evil.

We must understand this struggle also as one “with” us as individuals, for all forms of evil come from human consciousness, except for those that we label as such coming from natural phenomena. We either defeat or subjugate the negative traits and trends that make us behave or act opposite to what is good, just or rightful.

The end of this struggle may come when we correct most of the major evils that we have created. We do it as an individual and collective endeavor in which an adequate education is primordial to stop the cycle of passing evil to the next generations.

This endeavor requires a thorough restructuring of the current beliefs that oppose any positive change in human consciousness.

“And he said, ‘Let me go, for the day broke’. And he said, ‘I will not let you go, except that you bless me’.” (32:27)

Jacob teaches us that defeating evil is not enough, as well as letting it go, for it is essential to subjugate evil to goodness by all means necessary. Thus he demanded evil to recognize goodness as the prevailing principle in God’s creation.

This request was not apparently necessary, considering that evil had to return to where it was sent. Jacob wants to tell us that in every choice that we have to make, goodness is the right one, for even evil recognizes that it is so. Thus we assimilate that evil is not a choice but a reference to choose goodness.

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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