The Torah Revealed: Talmudic Masters Unveil the Secrets of the Bible

By Avraham Yaakov Finkel | Go to book overview

8
Torah Portion
Vayishlach
Genesis 32:4–36:43

JACOB'S ENCOUNTER WITH ESAU

(32:8) Jacob was very frightened and distressed. He divided the people accompanying him into two camps, along with the sheep, cattle, and camels.


The Talmud Teaches

Jacob was very frightened R. Yaakov b. Dimi pointed out a contradiction: It says “God said to Jacob, 'I am with you. I will protect you wherever you go'” (28:15). But here it says “Jacob was very frightened.” Because God promised to protect him, what was he afraid of? He was afraid that some sin might cause God's promise not to be fulfilled (Berachot 4a).

NOTE: The Midrash explains that Jacob's perceived sin was his inability to honor his father during the fourteen years he stayed with Laban, while Esau honored his father all that time.

(32:11) Jacob prayed, “I have been diminished because of all the kindnesses and faith You have shown me. When I left home I crossed the Jordan with only my staff, and now I have become two camps.”


The Talmud Teaches

I have been diminished R. Yannai said: A person should never stand in a dangerous place expecting a miracle to be performed

-64-

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