Thursday, December 15, 2005

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.


At December 15, 2005 at 7:18:00 AM EST, Blogger MC Aryeh said...

"evil is ultimately pleased to be defeated - for that is its role"

Very powerful statement. I hope I can be mindful of it when things are not going so great and it seems the world is in turmoil.

At December 15, 2005 at 8:10:00 AM EST, Blogger yitz said...

WOW!!! A great post on singing, plus a great quote from the Frierdikker [previous] Lubavitcher Rebbe!

I have loads to add, but I'll try to be concise: Rebbe Shaul Yedidya Elazar of Modzitz says that "even when one's shoulder is bearing the burden, one should raise his voice and exult in song with the hope and trust of redemption."

He goes on to say that "if a Jew is [Heaven forbid] in a time of trouble, and nevertheless sings in anticipation of his redemption, indeed he will merit to see the Redemption from Hashem."

Bli neder, I'll try to link your post to what I've posted [today] about "Niggun [from the Parsha] of the Week."

At December 15, 2005 at 8:15:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Thanks for your thought as well, Yitz. I always appreciate the links :)

At December 15, 2005 at 1:44:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, that deep thought just makes me high, brother! Thanks Chababa, Shbakak...or whatever your name is.

At December 16, 2005 at 12:32:00 AM EST, Blogger Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear Reb Chabakuk,

An interesting notion this ... that "evil" is "pleased" (as it were) to be defeated ... aside from the problem of anthropomorphizing 'evil' and disassociating it from the exercise of free will by its real human subjects, ... one wonders just how pleased an eichman Y'MACH SHMO was on his "last transport" ... 'al ha etz'?

I am ...

Very Sincerely yours,

Alan D. Busch

At December 16, 2005 at 10:04:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alan / Avrum,

The Zohar explains this with this oft-quoted parable:

There was a King who had a special son. The King was afraid that his son's greatness was due to his surroundings, and decided to test him. He arranged for a prostitute to test him with seduction - and based on how it turned out, the king would know if his son was indeed worthy. The prostitute was guaranteed a large sum of money for this task, and had to commit to do her best. She certainly tries her best, but in her heart she want the prince to refuse her advances - and she knows that her ultimate reward will be far greater if she fails, since the Kings joy will be boundless...

Evil has a job to do, and although it want's to be overcome, it must be loyal to its creator.

But, remember that it was not Esav who sang, rather it was the angel of Eisav; this means that although the human may not feel the palpable desire to be vanquished, it's spiritual source - as everything physical must have a spiritual root - surely does.


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