I was on the conference call, the once-a-week study line that was my treat. We were learning the Parsha (Vayishlach) and got to that famous scenario, the angel and Yaakov, the epic struggle of bad against good. The dust rose, good won, evil departed, the story was almost all wrapped up neatly, when one study participant interrupted the narrative, “why did the angel come fight Yaakov?!”
Yes, most of us know what the angel and Yaakov represent. We know what is happening in the dust swirling and in the fight. But did any of us stop and question, ‘why’d G-d have that happen?’ For it was G-d who had sent that angel to wrestle Yaakov.
It is explained in Tanchuma that Yaakov was to fight the angel and win, and, thereby, get over his fear of Eisav. If you look in the beginning of the Parsha [32:12], you learn that Yaakov acknowledged his fear when praying to G-d “Save me…because I am afraid of him…” That is why Hashem sent the angel, to give Yaakov a battle that seemed unable to be won and let him win it. That way, Yaakov became emboldened for his showdown with Eisav.
Dovid Hamelech says, “Kol Mishbarecha…ulie uhvuhroo” all Your waves passed over me”[Psalm 42]. G-d sends those crashers and those waves smashing at us. We have our struggles, our fights, those horribly tough days and tests. Don’t forget them. Recount them, as did Dovid, for in looking backwards and remembering how we came out unharmed, we see that G-d saves us. That gives us courage to fight or face our next challenge.
In our prayers, we say, Ad Haina Azaroona Rachamecha… – until now Your mercy has helped us and Your kindness has not forsaken us. If you remember coming through the bad times in the past, it disables some of your fear for the future.
Rabbi Ronen Chaziza has this beautiful song based on this verse from Tehillim here: