27 Nov 400; The Transformation of Esau – Vayishlach
400; The Transformation of Esau – Vayishlach
(inspired by the teachings of HaRav Yitzchak Ginsburgh and Rabbi Moshe Genuth)
There is a common philosophy that if you want to help another, you need to meet them ‘where they are at’. In the most simple way this means we ought to approach and meet another or G-d, with an open mind and an open heart. This is a key to establishing a meaningful connection in all relationships; person to spouse, person and other person, person to G-d, and may include a Rabbi or Counselor-Therapist.
There are Torah references and insights on this idea of ‘meeting someone where they are at’. There is an idea that Adam ate of the fruit from Chava so that he may ‘fall’ with her in order to then help them both return (do teshuvah) to the Garden of Eden. There is also the understanding that Perkei Avot (Ethics of Our Fathers ) helped Judges maintain a good ethical balance as a Judge (in a Torah world) was then required to live amongst the people he adjudicated. He may have been in an ‘impure’ environment (ie a bad neighborhood), and needed to maintain his own purity.
In our daily affairs we don’t put ourselves in physical or spiritual danger. It is for this reason; so as not to ‘fall’ that those who engage in kiruv (outreach) should have a connection to thier own yiddishkite; thier learing and living of Torah, and ongoing guidance with their Rabbi . It is also for this reason that those in recovery of substance or other negatively impacting behaviors) avoid contact with people, places or things that may cause them to ‘fall’, and maintain a commitment to a program of recovery.
Previous to meeting Esau and the ‘400 men’, Jacob had spent years immersed in Holy study and had his righteousness became forged stronger by having spent years with the unscrupulous Laban. Jacob had prepared himself so he would not fall.
Before we choose (although not always by choice) to descend to a place of challenge, we should ensure we have prepared ourselves to do so… body mind and soul. When we have descended , it can be difficult to separate out the issues, so we need may the objectivity of another, a spouse, a parent, a Rabbi, a Counselor or Therapist… and always maintaining a relationship with a Higher Power, G-d.
Through the Eyes of an Angel-
Before Jacob approaches Jacob, Jacob dispatches a malach (angel) to survey the situation of Esau approaching. He chose an angel (malach) over his loyal and righteous men for this task because the great sensitivity of the mission required the unemotional report on his brother Esau that could only come from ‘the eyes a malach’. The malach does not have the ability to influence a report what he sees, and so the malach remains truly objective. It is something we may all need to know, that before coming to any decision or G-d forbid any Judgment on another person, do we have the objectivity of G-d …or His emissary, an angel? Are we able to see things with the clarity of ‘the eyes of an angel’?
Jacob bows 7 times –
Jacob bows 7 times as he approaches Esau. There is a deep kabbalistic (gematria involving multiples of 7 or 8 times the Name of Y-K-V-K Hashem-26) ) insight that reveal that the bowing 7 times of Jacob was done to ‘neutralize’ the negative effects of the 7 measures of unrectified or impure holiness within ‘Esau’.
This also shows Jacob’s subjugation of the 7 emanations or the 7 emotive experience of the heart. Now, when Jacob will receive (meet) Esau , he will meet him at even level. He will be able to meet Esau ‘eye to eye’.
There is an understanding in counseling and all relationships to meet another person (in this case as Jacob meets Esau) where he is at… meaning that we need to meet a person on their intellectual and emotional level. That require one to posses the wisdom of mind and heart, humility and empathy in order to have the necessary understanding and sensitivity of the emotional and intellectual state of the other person.
When we bow during the Amidah , kabbalah teaches that the action of bending over opens our spine (the central nervous system), thus humlbing or availing ourselves to be able to recieve G-ds Light. When Jacob bows down as he approaches Esau, he is then lowering and nullifying orhumbling himself to receive Esau (the man and his sparks). He is also preparing for the great journey of every Jew and the entire Jewish Nation to help Esau (the nishama) to do tshuva , as I will explain.
400… a deeper Kabbalistic insight
The number 400 is mentioned a number of times in Tanach. Last time we overtly saw the number 400 in the Torah was when Avraham paid 400 pieces of silver for the purchase of Macphelah. Now in Parshas Vayishlach, Esau meets Jacob with 400 men. Also, 400 is the value of the final 22nd letter of the aleph-beit, the Tav (400), representing the culmination of all the (creative) powers of the letters that precede it. (nb. tav is the first and thus the ‘identifying’ letter of ‘Teruah’ of the shofar blast thereby culminating and elevating all tshuvah that precedes it)
We need to remember that Esau is a Jew, and accordingly is privy to doing teshuvah. We are not talking about the person ‘Esau’, but spiritual sparks of holiness captured in the negativity of Esau as the spiritual vessel (nishama) named Esau.
When the world was created, the World of Tohu (Chaos) gave birth to this World of Tikun (Rectification). This produced what are called the 400 Fallen Sparks of Holiness. The rectification of these sparks is what we are seeking to reveal and elevate in the process of bringing Mashiach. We, as the children and Nation of Jacob-Yisroel need Esau (the eternal spiritual entity) for these sparks which he holds to be transformed. The gathering in and rectifying i.e. the transformation of these ‘negative’ sparks to positive Holy spar ks that we may refer to as ‘the teshuvah of Esau’.
The Universe is a culmination of what is refered to in kabbalah as the 4 Worlds (atzilut/emanation, briyah/formation, yesira/creation, assya/action). The 4 Worlds are made up of the basic building block of the 10 sefirot. It should be understood that each of the ‘faces’ of the 10 sefirot by which they are named (chochma, binah etc.) has within it the other 9 sefirot, so each of the complete Worlds of 10 sefirot actualy contains 100 sefirot, multiplied by 4 = 400 as fallen sparks to be revealed and rectified.
The 400 men of Esau represent those sparks of creation to be rectified. The meeting of Jacob and Esau marks an important part of the ongoing journey of Klol Yisroel in securing, revealing igniting these sparks of holiness. We can then see how Esau becomes an integral partner with Jacob. Jacob is then named by ‘his partner’ Esau (his’ angel) and named Yisroel (the Man, the Land, the People) representing the emanation (sefirot) of Tiferet; beauty, harmony and symmetry as we are to be a rectified and elevated Nation, and Land of Israel to usher in the Messianic era.
Lawrence (Leib Getzel) Lax
Addiction and Counseling (Hnrs)