The Shabbos Table – Vayishlach: R’ Y. Sacks Shlita: Eisav Sonei L’Yaakov

This D’var Torah should be a Zechus L’Ilui Nishmas my mother Chaya Rochel Bas Dovid Tzvi A”H, my sister Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my paternal grandfather Moshe Ben Yosef A”H, my paternal grandmother Channah Freidel Bas Avraham A”H, my uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein,

It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:

-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel

-My grandmother Shulamis Bas Etta


-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili

_R’ Simcha Yitzchak Ben Mirela Yudka

-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis

-Yonatan Menachem Mendel Ben Orly, Eli Aharon Michel Ben Chaya

-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of HaRav HaGa’on V’Sar HaTorah Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim Ben HaRav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky A”H, Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken by terrorists (Hashem Yikom Damam), COVID-19, and other tragedies.

-It should also be a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael during this dire time, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.

The wounded should experience Refuah Shileimah, the captives should be returned safely, the fallen should experience Kevurah and Aliyah for their Neshamos and Nekamah for their Dam, their Krovim should experience Nechamah, the Chayalim should be Matzliach and Minatzei’ach, and Am Yisrael should experience Geulah.




Be”H, I will be translating / transcribing / paraphrasing Divrei Torah of my Rebbi, HaGaon R’ Yonason Avner Sacks Shlita. (Any inaccuracies, whether added, misrepresented, or due to omission and/or points lost in translation or context should be attributed to me alone. * = My addition.)





“Eisav Sonei Es Yaakov”



Based on:

Sichah – Toldos: Eisav Sonei L’Yaakov (2023)

“Tefilaso Shel Yaakov Avinu” (Yomim MiKedem – Parshas Vayishlach, Page 207)



A Well-Known Halachah


In Parshas Vayishlach, the Torah describes the confrontation between Yaakov and Eisav, where Eisav suddenly embraces Yaakov Avinu and kisses him. In that context, Rashi quotes the Midrash (Sifrei, B’Ha’alosecha 11; Tanchuma Shemos 27) that, “הֲלָכָה הִיא בְּיָדוּעַ שֶׁעֵשָׂו שׂוֹנֵא לְיַעֲקֹב”-“it is a well-known law that Eisav hates Yaakov.”


Mesorah vs. Menusah – Tradition & Trial


The Midrash uses the term “הֲלָכָה הִיא” on the one hand, and yet, “בְּיָדוּעַ” on the other. That is perhaps to say that one can be aware of something based on two different points of view.

(1) A Mesorah (tradition), “הֲלָכָה הִיא.” The Netziv writes in his Bi’ur (elucidation) to the Sifrei that “Halachah” means “MiGemirei,” in other words, a Davar Mekubal (accepted matter), a tradition.

(2) “בְּיָדוּעַ” is a different basis of knowledge. It is something which he knows, “Baduk U’Menusah,” something which is tried and tested. It is known empirically. It is something which we could point to throughout the generations.

Chazal are telling us that “Eisav Sonei L’Yaakov” is true on both fronts. One the one hand, we recognize that this is a Mesorah that we have. And on the other hand, it is something that empirically speaking, we have experienced. It is Baduk U’Menusah.


“Eisav Sonei L’Yaakov” – Even When We Don’t Sense it


R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe, Choshen Mishpat 2:77, and similarly, Tzitz Eliezer 13:12) writes explicitly that it is not only true of Eisav, but Eisav signifies our relationship with the Umos HaOlam. The Teshuvah which R’ Moshe wrote addressed the topic of the British government, and in that context, he warned that “Eisav Sonei L’Yaakov.”

It could be that there are certain moments when we don’t always sense it. Even in the context of the Midrash in and of itself, when Eisav kisses Yaakov Avinu, Rashi writes that it was done “B’Chol Libo” (“with all his heart”), that it was indeed sincere. But recognize that that was true for the moment, but holistically speaking, “Eisav Sonei L’Yaakov.”


“From My Brother, From Eisav”


The Beis HaLevi writes at great length that this was precisely the fear of Yaakov Avinu. In the beginning of Parshas Vayishlach, Yaakov Avinu Davens, “הַצִּילֵנִי נָא מִיַּד אָחִי מִיַּד עֵשָׂו”-“Save me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Eisav” (Bereishis 32:12). Yaakov uses a double expression as Yaakov feared on two fronts. On the one hand, “Hatzileini… MiYad Eisav” because sometimes, the Umos HaOlam confront us in such a belligerent way and in such obviously antisemitic fashion, that our guard is up. We recognize the challenge, that we are forced to defend ourselves, a significant threat.

However, the Beis HaLevi writes that there is a more subtle threat which is even more significant. When the Umos HaOlam approach us, not with the belligerence of antisemitism, but “Hatzileini Na MiYad Achi,” when Eisav comes and preaches brotherhood, when our guard is down, “נִסְעָה וְנֵלֵכָה וְאֵלְכָה לְנֶגְדֶּךָ” (“Let’s travel and walk, and I will go beside you” – Ibid. 33:12) when the suggestion is that we walk together. That, writes the Beis HaLevi, is the real fear.

One has to address the Umos HaOlam in both ways; to recognize that when we are faced with the environment that we are confronted with today, we realize that “Halachah Hi B’Yadua SheEisav Sonei L’Yaakov.” And a person has to be willing to respond appropriately. But, it is also a challenge when at other times, we feel overly comfortable among the Umos HaOlam. The Beis HaLevi writes that that was the real fear of Yaakov Avinu.


The climate that we sense today is something that is frightening, almost unprecedented in the past several decades, and that is the blatant, overt antisemitism that is being clearly directed towards us, the comments against Eretz Yisrael, against Medinas Eretz Yisrael. It is something we have to recognize and to which we must respond.



*We should be Zocheh to the awareness of this Halachah B’Yadua, to respond appropriately to the evil hatred of Eisav HaRasha, to finally defeat Eisav with the coming of the Geulah in the times of Moshiach, Bimheirah BiYomeinu! Have a wonderful Shabbos!