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Body and Soul

By: Rav Rafi Rosenblum

When Yaakov is set to finally meet up with his brother after all of these years, he turns to Hashem and begs “hatzileini na miyad Esav” - please save me from the hand of my brother from the hand of Esav. Why does Yaakov phrase his tefillah this way? He only has one brother, so couldn't he just say “miyad achi”? Or even if he felt the need to specify Esav, he could have said “miyad achi Esav”. Why the need for “miyad achi, miyad Esav”? Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik (the author of the Beis Halevi - great grandfather and namesake of Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik from Yeshiva University), answers that Yaakov was worried about two things: He was worried that Esav might try to kill him, and he was worried that Esav might try to become friends and want to live together. When he asked Hashem to save him miyad achi, miyad Esav he wasn't just repeating himself and he wasn't just being poetic. He was asking Hashem to save him from both of these things; Esav and achi.  He was saying that he was worried about Esav as an enemy and he was scared about Esav as a brother. It is interesting to note that he asked for help from his brother first, which, according to the Beis Halevi, indicated that this was a bigger concern for Yaakov. 


We know that “maaseh avot siman labanim”. Throughout Jewish history, when the Jews have been in galus, they have gone through prosecution and assimilation. We can look at the two Rabbinic holidays as examples of this idea. פורים is a time that we celebrate the miracles that Hashem did for us to save us from an enemy that wanted to annihilate us. חנוכה, on the other hand, is a celebration of the ניסים that Hashem did for us against an enemy that wasn't trying to kill us, but rather was trying to assimilate us. Very different enemies, but both equally concerning. Nowadays, we are struggling with both of these things. There are those who would like to destroy us physically and there are those who would like to destroy us spiritually. We should learn from Yaakov Avinu and turn to Hashem with tears in our eyes and beg Him to save us מיד אחי מיד עשו.

Wishing everyone a fantastic Shabbos.




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