PARSHAH OF THE WEEK
They say that “you can’t dance at two weddings at once.” But according to a teaching of Kabballah…you can.
The Torah reading of Vayishlach begins, “And Jacob sent angels before him to Esau his brother”. A frightened Jacob struggles to reach conciliation with his wild brother Esau, who is determined to punish Jacob for sneaking away with the Patriarchal blessings.
Commenting on the words, “And Jacob sent angels,” Rashi states, “Actual angels.” Kabballah explains, “Only the ‘actual’ aspect of the angels did Jacob send to Esau, but the spiritual component of the angels remained at all times with Jacob.”
Just a minute - something seems not quite right here. It would seem that Jacob’s goal in sending the angels was to have them wield their immense spiritual powers to neutralise the animosity of his brother Esau. So why would Kabballah propose that in sending the angels, Jacob withheld these very spiritual powers, dispatching a more ordinary version of the angels instead?
But the Kabballah’s words can be understood in another, more magical way.
The angels bring all of themselves along for the journey to Esau. They are fully equipped, actually as well as spiritually, to face this formidable challenge. Yet, while struggling to realise their mission, they never fail to realise that hanging out with Esau is not where they are meant to be. They race to wrap up their mission and re-join the righteous Jacob. Thus, while the angels are with Esau in actuality, they remain spiritually linked with the one who sent them.
And it is this unyielding bond that yields the angels their success. Only by remaining firmly connected with their source, the virtuous Jacob, can the angels be sure of success in their effort to refine Esau. Were this bond ever to be severed, the angels would face the risk of falling in with the very entity they arrived to elevate.
So goes the story of our lives.
We too, are on a mission. Our souls have been dispatched from a lofty port, to be clothed in a coarse body and a crude world. At the same time, we have been imbued with the tools required to master, refine and elevate our surroundings.
It is imperative that in facing this challenge, we master the art of dancing simultaneously at two weddings. While sending forth the messenger-angel in our soul to conquer, we must hang firmly onto our very own “Jacob,” the pristine source of our divine soul, which can never be tainted or tarnished.