© 2002 Rabbi David Hall 

Vayish’lach Ya’akov  mal’akhim l’fanav 

“Ya’akov sent ahead of him,”   mal’akhim “angels (messengers) to meet Esav his brother.” The “angels” returned to him with the report that Esav was headed his way with four hundred men. That night, Ya’akov wrestled with HaShem, who was in the form of man, until dawn. HaShem said “let me go.” Ya’akov said, “Not until you bless me.” “What is your name?” Ya’akov   (meaning “supplanter”). You will no longer be called supplantor but instead you will be Yisrael (meaning “he who overcame G-d”). Ya’akov named that place P’nuel “for I have seen the Divine face to face, yet my life was spared.”

Because of the wording of the first verse in this week’s parsha, some have taught that mal’akhim are not spiritual angels but mere mortal men who are servants of HaShem. But there are many other references to mal’akhim in which the messengers do things which are impossible for a mortal man to do. For example, in Judges chapter 13 an angel of HaShem came to Manoah and his wife telling of the birth of Samson. When the angel departed on the second visit he went up in the flames with the sacrifice to HaShem. These would then argue that Shadrach, Mishack and Abednigo were also mere mortals who were cast into the fiery furnace. We then have to ask, “Who was the forth man in the fire?” They then counter with Elijah going up to heaven in the whirlwind, in a fiery chariot. The simple fact is that some choose not to believe in the existence of another realm in which angels live and work. I can assure you that the spiritual place which the Bible calls heaven, kingdom of heaven, kingdom of G-d, etc., really does exist.

Dinah means justice. HaShem used her to judge the sons of Sh’khem. Shimon and Levi were the sons who rose up against the children of Sh’khem. Because they did so, Ya’akov cut them off from their inheritance.

HaShem directed Ya’akov to go back to the place called Betuel. Betuel means “house of G-d.” When we do not know what to do or which direction to turn, we should always return to G-d’s house for answers. On the way to Betuel, Rachel died in childbirth. She named her son Ben Oni meaning literally, son of my mourning, as if to say; his birth caused my death (Ibn Ezra; Ramban) Avraham used a homonym in renaming Benyamin, “son of my strength” because the other translation of Oni is strength.
The cost of going to the “House of G-d” is often very steep. In the end, the reward is well worth the cost.

Yeshua told us, “He who holds on to his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for my sake shall find it.” If we are to wrestle with HaShem and win, we must be willing to give up everything for the kingdom of G-d’s sake.