Guest Posting From Chabakuk Elisha - Singing In Defeat
In this week's parsha, Yaakov Avinu wrestles with the angel of Esav and ultimately is victorious, albeit with a dislocated hip. If you look at the details you may notice a curious thing:
It is shortly before dawn when Yaakov encounters the angel, they wrestle, and ultimately Yaakov overcomes the angel - when suddenly the angel remembers that it has to leave.
How can it be that the angel only now remembers that it has an urgent appointment to sing shira before G-d? Chazal tell us that angels only sing shira once in their existence; surely this angel had this date marked off on its calendar for some time. How could it could decide right before that appointment that it would try to get its black-belt fighting Yaakov? It certainly seems like odd timing.
I heard an answer to this question many years ago from the Bostoner Rebbe of Boro-Park/Beit Shemesh, Rabbi Chaim Avrohom HaLevi Horowitz:
It was specifically its defeat that accomplished the angel's ultimate mission, and caused it to sing shira to G-d. Ultimately, the angel was only successful when it was defeated by Yaakov.
We live in a world of discord. We see people fighting on many levels - and unfortunately, it often seems unfair, as good people suffer and less-than-good people prosper. But it is encouraging to know that there is a master plan, and we are but small players in that plan. In the end, good defeats evil, and evil is ultimately pleased to be defeated - for that is its role.