web analytics
September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

What Was Yaakov Afraid Of?

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

At the beginning of this week’s parshah we learn that Eisav was coming with 400 men to attack Yaakov and his family. We are told of the many preparations that Yaakov took before this encounter. The pasuk says that Yaakov was very afraid, for as it is written: “vayira Yaakov me’od, vayeitzer lo” (Bereishis 32:8). Rashi tells us that this fear was not for his own life; rather this fear was that he might have to take other people’s lives. In Rashi’s words: “shema yehareg es acheirim.”

Many of the commentators have been bothered by this explanation. The halacha is that if one is chasing another person, he has a status of a rodef and may be killed by anyone. Additionally, there is another halacha that if one is coming to attack you, you may defend yourself and kill him first. So what was Yaakov afraid of? If he would have to kill anyone it would be under one of these permitted conditions. Why the fear?

Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin, zt”l, suggested that Yaakov was aware that if he killed someone it would be permitted. However, he was dually aware that his mother received a nevuah that both of her sons would die on the same day. Yaakov therefore feared that if he killed Eisav, he too would be killed on that day.

There is another explanation brought regarding the wording of Rashi, shema yehareg es acheirim. Perhaps the word acheirim alludes to Rabbi Meir, who is referred to as “Acheirim” in the Mishnah. The Gemara, in Gittin 56b, says that Rabbi Meir was a descendent of Eisav; thus Yaakov was not afraid of killing Eisav per se. Rather, he was afraid of destroying his descendant who would eventually become a great tana.

The Re’aim, the Maharal, and the Levush say that one may only kill a rodef if he has exhausted every other option to prevent the attack. For example, if one can shoot the rodef in the leg and likely prevent death he must do so – and may not kill him. Thus Yaakov was afraid that perhaps he would be able to prevent the attack by other means, but instead kill in such a situation.

However, they then say that this halacha does not apply to the one being attacked; he may kill his pursuer even if he could prevent the attack by other means. They therefore change their explanation to this: perhaps Eisav and his men were only planning to attack Yaakov’s family. Thus Yaakov would only be an outsider witnessing an attack and would thereby be bound by the rule that he must seek other preventative measures before killing the attackers.

Rabbi Akiva Eiger disagrees with this p’shat. He says that the Gemara in Sanhedrin 72a explains why it is that when one breaks into another person’s house the owner is allowed to kill the thief. The Gemara says that there is a chazakah that the thief is aware that a person will put up a fight to keep his money, and consequently knows that there may be a confrontation. As a result, the thief is prepared to kill the owner in the event that a confrontation ensues. This confirms that the thief intended all along to kill the owner of the house. Hence the owner can kill the thief before the thief has a chance to kill him. Rabbi Akiva Eiger says that we can surely apply this chazakah, namely that one will put up a fight when another comes to kill his family. Therefore, the same halacha should apply in this case: Yaakov should be permitted to kill anyone who tries to kill a member of his family, even if he can prevent the attack by other means.

I was wondering what all of these meforshim were referring to when they say that Yaakov was afraid that he would be able to prevent the attack without killing. Why was this possibility such a reality to Yaakov? Generally, when one is coming to attack there is not much that can be done to prevent the attack – aside from killing the attacker.

I believe that the reason why the meforshim assume that Yaakov had this fear is because he knew there was something he could do to stop the attack before it even started. He could send a message to Eisav that he is giving the bechorah and berachos back to him. This would have definitely prevented any bloodshed. Thus Yaakov feared that anyone he would kill would be an unnecessary death. But since he felt that he should not return the bechorah and berachos to Eisav, he prepared for the encounter. Ultimately, though, a battle between the two was averted.

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “What Was Yaakov Afraid Of?”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Police set up roadblocks throughout the Sharon region and beyond to track down terrorists believed to have infiltrated the area.
Arab Terrorist Attack Foiled Near Netanya
Latest Judaism Stories
shofar+kotel

If you had an important court date scheduled – one that would determine your financial future, or even your very life – you’d be sure to prepare for weeks beforehand. On Rosh Hashanah, each individual is judged on the merit of his deeds. Whether he will live out the year or not. Whether he will […]

The_United_Nations_Building

It is in the nature of the Nations of the World to be hostile towards the Jewish People.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

First, how could a beis din of 23 judges present a guilty verdict in a capital punishment case? After all, only a majority of the 23 judges ruled in favor of his verdict.

Of paramount importance is that both the king and his people realize that while he is the leader, he is still a subject of God.

Untimely News
‘A Mourner Is Forbidden To Wear Shoes…’
(Mo’ed Katan 20b)

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Menachem
Via Email

When a person feels he can control the destiny of other people, he runs the risk of feeling self-important, significant, and mighty.

Needless to say, it was done and they formed a great relationship as his friend and mentor. He started attending services and volunteered his time all along putting on tefillin.

He took me to a room filled with computer equipment and said, “You pray here for as long as you want.” I couldn’t believe my ears.

On Friday afternoon, Dov called Kalman. “Please make sure to return the keys for the car on Motzaei Shabbos,” he said. “We have a bris on Sunday morning and we’re all going. We also need the roof luggage bag.”

On Chol HaMoed some work is prohibited and some is permitted. According to some opinions, the work prohibition is biblical; according to others, it’s rabbinical.

If there is a mitzvas minuy dayanim in the Diaspora, then why is there a difference between Israel and the Diaspora in the number of judges and their distribution?

Judaism is a religion of love but also a religion of justice, for without justice, love corrupts.

The time immediately preceding Mashiach’s arrival is likened to the birth pangs of a woman in labor.

More Articles from Rabbi Raphael Fuchs
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

First, how could a beis din of 23 judges present a guilty verdict in a capital punishment case? After all, only a majority of the 23 judges ruled in favor of his verdict.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

According to Rabbi Yishmael one was not permitted to eat such an animal prior to entering Eretz Yisrael, while according to Rabbi Akiva one was permitted to eat animals if he would perform nechirah.

Tosafos there takes issue with Rashi’s view that the letters that are formed in the knots of the tefillin are considered part of the name of Hashem.

The Rambam says that in order to honor Shabbos, one must wash his hands, face, and feet with warm water on Friday.

The talmid is not allowed to speak up due to any fear. If he remains silent, he is in violation of this prohibition.

It is apparent from the Maharsha that he does not see galus as atoning for killing accidentally; otherwise, this Gemara would not bother him.

There are several rules that one must adhere to when making a neder.

We need to understand why Moshe Rabbeinu decided to ask that his sons inherit his position after this new halacha was introduced.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/what-was-yaakov-afraid-of/2013/11/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: