וַיָּשֻׁבוּ הַמַּלְאָכִים אֶל־יַעֲקֹב לֵאמֹר בָּאנוּ אֶל־אָחִיךָ אֶל־עֵשָׂו וְגַם הֹלֵךְ לִקְרָאתְךָ וְאַרְבַּע־מֵאוֹת אִישׁ עִמּוֹ׃
It is written in the possuk (Breishis 32/7) “The messengers returned to Yaakov, saying, “We came to your brother Eisav; he himself is coming to meet you, and there are four hundred men with him.”
Rashi explains, “WE CAME TO YOUR BROTHER, TO EISAV — to him of whom you said he is my brother, but he behaves towards you as Eisav, the wicked — he is still harboring hatred”. The fact that the messengers told Yaakov that Eisav still hated him and not as he (Yaakov) said to them, implies that one of the reasons that Yaakov sent the messengers was in order to see if Eisav was still angry at him or not.
Zera Shimshon asks the following question. It says in the medrash (and Rashi also writes this) that the messengers that Yaakov sent were not regular mortal earthly people but they were “heavenly angels”. Therefore, he asks, why did Yaakov have to send these melachim to Eisav to see if he still hated him? They could have related this to him without their going there, just as melachim told Yosef what the brothers were thinking about him without Yosef sending them to the brothers to find out!
Zera Shimshon answers that the “heavenly angels” surely told him that Eisav was still angry with him but there was a different reason why he sent cattle, donkeys, sheep, male and female slaves. The medrash (Breishis Rabbah 75/11) explains that it was in order for him to do teshuva!
Yaakov wanted to show him that going in the ways of Hashem brings prosperity and therefore it is beneficial for him to leave his wicked ways of idolatry etc. and to return to the ways of his father.
Zera Shimshon adds that it is very likely that there were really two reasons for Yaakov to help his brother do teshuva.
The first one was simply that he wanted to help him gain eternal life. He didn’t want his brother to suffer for ever for his bad deeds.
The second reason can be understood according to a gemorro in Avodah Zarah (17A).
It is written in that Gemorra, “It is written in Mishlai (30/15) “None that go to her return, neither do they attain the paths of life”. (The Gemorra asks) since they do not return from her where could they attain the path of life? (The Gemorra explains that the “her” is referring to Avodah Zarah and heresy) (The Gemorra answers) that the possuk means to say that people IN GENERAL don’t give up this sin, and the few that are successful do give it up do not attain the path of life.” Rashi explains that they die because of the difficulty to suppress their yetzer horro.
According to this, explains Zera Shimshon, besides the fact that he wanted to save Eisav from eternal pain and suffering he also wanted him to do teshuva so that he would die (since he worshipped avodah zora as Rashi explains in a few places) and Yaakov would never have to worry that Eisav will try to kill him for buying the birthright.
הַצִּילֵנִי נָא מִיַּד אָחִי מִיַּד עֵשָׂו כִּי יָרֵא אָנֹכִי אֹתוֹ פֶּן יָבוֹא וְהִכַּנִי אֵם עַל בָּנִים: וְאַתָּה אָמַרְתָּ הֵיטֵב אֵיטִיב עִמָּךְ וְשַׂמְתִּי אֶת זַרְעֲךָ כְּחוֹל הַיָּם אֲשֶׁר לֹא יִסָּפֵר מֵרֹב:וַיָּלֶן שָׁם בַּלַּיְלָה הַהוּא וַיִּקַּח מִן הַבָּא בְיָדוֹ מִנְחָה לְעֵשָׂו אָחִיו: (בראשית לב/יא-יג)
And Yaakov said, “…. I have been diminished by all the kindnesses and by all the truth that Y.u have done Your servant…: (12) Save me from the hand of my brother, from the hands of Eisav, because I’m afraid of him…: (13) And Y.u said, “I will surely do good with you and I will make your offsprings….” (Breishis 32/11-13)
Zera Shimshon asks that Yaakov’s prayer to be saved from the hands of Eisav seems to be in the wrong place.
In the first of the above three possukim, Yaakov Avinu expresses to Hashem that he lost what Hashem promised him because of his sins.
In the next possuk he prays to be saved from Eisav.
In the next ax possuk he reminds Hashem that H. promised to do good to him.
It would seem that the proper place to pray to be saved from Eisav is right after he mentions Hashem’s promise to be good to him and not after he expresses his fear that he has no merits!
He answers according to a concept set forth by Toras Chaim (Babba Metzia 106/A) that there are three types of miracles.
For a tzaddik there are open visible miracles that the person does nothing. Hashem takes care of it all.
For people with less merits there are two types of miracles. The first type is that the person participates slightly even though that the outcome doesn’t really have too much to do with him. For instance, when a very weak person kills an attacking lion or conquers a whole army that is much stronger than him. In such a miracle the person recognizes that Hashem saved him.
The second type is a miracle completely clothed in nature or in common daily events. For instance, the enemy gets lost on the way, or the animal finds another animal to quell his hunger. In this type of miracle the recipient doesn’t even realize that a miracle was done for him!
According to this, Zera Shimshon explains the flow of the posukim.
Yaakov knew that Hashem promised to protect him but he was uncertain in which of three ways this would happen. He was afraid that he sinned and therefore only merited a little miracle and was only worthy of protection clothed in nature etc. This is what he thought in the first possuk, “I have been diminished by all the kindnesses and by all the truth that Y.u have done Your servant”.
He saw, though, that Eisav actually came and was ready to fight. He therefore thought that Hashem wants to perform a miracle for him in which he will pray and thank Hashem for it. He therefore davvened, “Save me from the hand of my brother, from the hands of Eisav, because I’m afraid of him…”
On the other hand he might not have sinned and was therefore meritted a full miracle. To cover this possibility he simply reminded Hashem of the promise, “And Y.u said, “I will surely do good with you and I will make your offsprings….”
וַיְצַו אֹתָם לֵאמֹר כֹּה תֹאמְרוּן לַאדֹנִי לְעֵשָׂו כֹּה אָמַר עַבְדְּךָ יַעֲקֹב עִם לָבָן גַּרְתִּי וָאֵחַר עַד עָתָּה בראשית לב/ד-
And Yaakov sent (heavenly messengers) malachim before him to Eisav his brother… (Braishis 32/4)
On this possuk the Medrash comments, “Rav Chamma the son of Chanina said, ‘(We can understand why Yaakov merited to have heavenly messengers (malachim) assist him with the following logic) If five malachim appeared to Hagar (who was merely) the maid servant of Sarah, then it is certainly reasonable that they come to aid Yaakov who was a beloved family member. (Another proof) If Eliezer (who was merely) the servant of (Avraham’s) family, merited malachim (when he went to look for a wife for Yitzchok) then it is certainly reasonable that they come to assist Yaakov who was a beloved family member.'”
Zera Shimshon asks why does Rav Chamma the son of Chanina bring two sources to explain why Yaakov merited malachim to assist him when he met Eisav?
He answers that Hashem sent malachim to help Hagar and to help of Eliezer for two completely different reasons.
The malachim that appeared to Hagar came to comfort her and to relief her from the humiliation that she suffered under Sarah. Hashem wanted to comfort her, even though that she deserved to be humilited because she was very disrespectful to Sarah.
The ones that traveled with Eliezer served an entirely different purpose. They went so that, in the event that Lavan and Besuail would object that Rivkah marry Yitzchok, they would convince them to change their mind until they would willingly agree with the shidduch. In actuality this wasn’t so crucial. Firstly, Rivkah was willing to marry Yitzhok even if her father and brother didn’t agree (as Rashi writes). And secondly, even if she wouldn’t consent to go, Eliezer had the choice of taking a shidduch from Anar, Eshkol, and Mammre. Even though it wasn’t so crucial, Hashem still sent malachim to help him.
Yaakov hoped to gain these two very same things when he met with Eisav. Firstly, he wanted Eisav to stop humiliating him for taking the berochos and, secondly but more important, he wanted that Eisav will “scrap” his plan to kill him.
HaRav Shimshon Nachmaini, author of Zera Shimshon lived in Italy about 300 years ago in the time of the Or HaChaim HaKodesh.
The Chida writes that he was a great Mekubal and wrote many sefarim including sefarim about “ practical kabbolo“ but asked that all of his sefarim be buried after he passes away except for Zera Shimshon and Niflaos Shimshon on Avos.
He had one child who died in his lifetime (hence the name “Zera Shimshon“) and in the preface he promises for people who learn his sefarim after he dies “... And your eyes will see children and grandchildren like the offshoots of an olive tree around your tables, wise and understanding with houses filled with all manner of good things... and wealth and honor......”
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