• August 28th, 2022
  • Elul 1st, 5782

VAYISHLACH

He Sent

Presented By
Torah Contributor

Transform Hatred to Love

In this week’s portion of Vayishlach, we can connect to the energy of mercy and see how hatred and negativity can be vanquished in a split second – transformed into love and kindness. The portion discusses how Jacob was en route to meet his brother Esau who he had not seen for many years. Esau wanted to kill Jacob for stealing his birthright and their father’s blessing.  Jacob slowly approached Esau and his army of 400 men with a true sense of fear for his life. Jacob had prepared, prayed and provided gifts in advance to Esau as a way to avoid the potential judgement that was to befall him. When they were about to meet, Jacob bowed down seven times. It was then that “Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he fell upon his neck and kissed him and they wept.” It is said that Esau’s mercy overcame him and he kissed Jacob with all his heart. The word “vayishakehu” (he kissed) has a dot over each of its letters. Kabbalist Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai shares that Esau’s anger was converted into love and mercy when he kissed his brother. The dots over the letters support our connection so that we too can channel this positive energy in our lives.

Reducing Our Ego

There are two powerful messages here for us. The first is simply that judgement can be overcome with mercy. The same way that darkness disappears when a light is turned on, negativity and judgement can be transformed into love and mercy with the proper consciousness. Secondly and more specifically, it was not until Jacob “bowed down seven times” that the judgement of Esau was transformed. Bowing down represents the lowering of oneself, taking yourself out of the equation and reducing the ego. Preparation and the offering of gifts have limited impact if these acts are ruled by ego. By humbling ourselves and eliminating selfish desires – we can connect to the Light and access miracles, blessings and redemption.

Idol Worshipping

G-d tells Jacob to “Go up to Bethel and settle there and build an altar to G-d. Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you and purify yourselves.” Bethel was a City of immense spiritual power where Jacob had a prophetic dream and both Abraham and Jacob built altars to make sacrifices and commune with G-d. It was only by getting rid of foreign gods and idols however that the Israelites were able to connect to G-d in this Holy place. Similarly, in order to achieve a higher state of consciousness and connect to the Light in our lives, we must get rid of foreign gods and any form of idol worship – including the worship of ego, money or fame.

Rachel’s Tomb and the Red String

We read in this portion that Rachel dies after giving birth to Benjamin and is buried by Jacob on the side of the road. The sages say that Rachel bears the pain for all of humanity and was buried on the road in order to provide blessings and mercy to the exiles on their way out of Israel after the destruction of the first Temple. Even in death she was able to draw down the energy of mercy and help others. The Kabbalistic custom of wearing a red string to protect against evil eye is connected to Rachel’s tomb for this reason. A large red string is wound around her tomb and then made into smaller pieces which are tied around a person’s wrist. By connecting to Rachel through the red string, we can tap into her energy of compassion, humility and selflessness – employing these attributes in our lives and creating a protective shield against evil eye and all forms of negativity.