Itzchak Evan-Shayish
Itzchak Evan-Shayish
Dedicated to sharing Rav Kook's lights with the world.

Rav Kook on Parshat Vayishlach: Restoring The Brotherly Love of Yaakov and Esau

“וַיִּשְׁלַ֨ח יַעֲקֹ֤ב מַלְאָכִים֙ לְפָנָ֔יו אֶל־עֵשָׂ֖ו אָחִ֑יו אַ֥רְצָה שֵׂעִ֖יר שְׂדֵ֥ה אֱדֽוֹם-Yaakov sent messengers ahead to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom.” (Breishit 32:4)

Yaakov is finally returning home. Twenty two years earlier he fled his twin brother’s very angry wrath. Yaakov had, after all, deceived Yitzchak Avinu to give Yaakov the blessing that he was going to give Esau.

Yaakov fled completely alone. He is now returning with two wives, two concubines, 12 sons and at least one daughter. And he is very frightened when he is told that Esau is approaching him with 400 men.

Their actual meeting is surprisingly friendly.

“וְה֖וּא עָבַ֣ר לִפְנֵיהֶ֑ם וַיִּשְׁתַּ֤חוּ אַ֙רְצָה֙ שֶׁ֣בַע פְּעָמִ֔ים עַד־גִּשְׁתּ֖וֹ עַד־אָחִֽיו-He himself went on ahead and bowed low to the ground seven times until he was near his brother.

וַיָּ֨רׇץ עֵשָׂ֤ו לִקְרָאתוֹ֙ וַֽיְחַבְּקֵ֔הוּ וַיִּפֹּ֥ל עַל־צַוָּארָ֖ו וַׄיִּׄשָּׁׄקֵ֑ׄהׄוּׄ וַיִּבְכּֽוּ׃ –Esau ran to greet him. He embraced him and, falling on his neck, he kissed him; and they wept.” (Ibid, 33:3,4)

Yaakov responds and beseeches Esau to accept a gift from him as he powerfully proclaims:

“וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יַעֲקֹ֗ב אַל־נָא֙ אִם־נָ֨א מָצָ֤אתִי חֵן֙ בְּעֵינֶ֔יךָ וְלָקַחְתָּ֥ מִנְחָתִ֖י מִיָּדִ֑י כִּ֣י עַל־כֵּ֞ן רָאִ֣יתִי פָנֶ֗יךָ כִּרְאֹ֛ת פְּנֵ֥י אֱלֹהִ֖ים וַתִּרְצֵֽנִי׃ –But Jacob said, “No, I pray you; if you would do me this favor, accept from me this gift; for to see your face is like seeing the face of the Divine,  you have received me so favorably.” (Ibid,33:10)

Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook TZ’L explained that Yaakov’s statement has tremendous prophetic implications. In a 1908 letter to Rabbi Pinchas HaKohen Lintup of Birz, a major Kabbalist of his time, he wrote:

“Concerning other religions, I will state to your honor my opinion, that it is not the aim of the enlightenment that emanates from Israel to absorb or destroy them, just as it is not our aim to destroy the world’s different nationalities. 

Our aim is to perfect and elevate them, to purge them of their dross…This applies even to idolatrous cults and certainly so, to faiths that are partly based on the light of Israel’s Torah…

It is for this reason that the man of truth, Yaakov, the man of integrity said on his reunion with Esau: ‘to see your face is like seeing the face of the Divine’. (Breishit 33:)

His world shall not go down as a vain utterance. The brotherly love of Esau and Yaakov [Christianity and Judaism], of Yitzchak and Ishmael [Israel and Islam] will assert itself above all the disturbances that the evil brought on by our bodily nature has engendered. Our core brotherly love will over overcome and transform them to eternal light and compassion.

This broad understanding, sweetened by the enlightenment of the true teaching of the Torah [kabbalah], must be our guide on all our ways in the end of days, to seal our understanding with the Messianic imprint, by turning the bitter to sweet and darkness to light.” (Letters 1:112)

Rav Kook’s Torah understanding is extremely encouraging. He is explaining to us that the historical process as Yaakov returns to the HomeLand of Israel will lead to loving reconciliation between Israel and her enemies. We will all collectively realize that we are at core of the same family-Jews, Christians and Muslims are the children of Avraham. We will come to understand that all humankind are the children of the same parents, Adam ve’Chava.

We are all truly brothers and sisters. The love at our core will ultimately overcome all the obstacles between us.

“A chaotic world stands before us, as long as we have not reached the state of higher perfection of uniting all life forces and all their diverse tendencies. As long as each one exalts themselves, saying ‘I will be sovereign, I and no-one else, there cannot be peace in our midst…

All life’s endeavors, especially the spiritual endeavors of all thought must be directed above all to disclose the light of the higher general harmony. This is effected not by rejecting any force, any thought, any movement, any tendency, but by including each within the vast ocean of infinite light. There all is united, all is elevated, all is exalted, all is hallowed.” (Orot HaKodesh 2:p.588)

May our dedication to improving the world lead us soon to the day that seeing the face of anyone and everyone will be ‘like seeing the face of the Divine’.

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Prepared by Rabbi Itzchak Evan-Shayish, www.haorot.comhaorot@gmail.com ,

About the Author
Rabbi Itzchak Evan-Shayish (Marmorstein) is a passionate student of the teachings of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook (1865- 1935) He is doing pioneering work in bringing Rav Kook to the public through classes, writings and creative musical and dramatic presentations in Israel and all over the world. He is the gabbai and educator at Beit HaRav Kook Synagogue in Jerusalem. He is the chairman of Ohr LeRayah, a Jerusalem based organization dedicated to sharing the universal teachings of Rav Kook with the whole world. (www.haorot.com). He is a musmach of Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, Z"L, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach Z’L and Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi Z"L.
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