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Friday, November 19

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayishlach

This week's Shtikle is dedicated to my brother-in-law, Aharon Yeres, and his kallah, Rachelle Stark on the occasion of their forthcoming marriage this Monday. Mazal Tov to both mishpachos and may they merit to build a Bayis Ne'eman b'Yisroel.

    Before his meeting with Eisav, Yaakov engages in an epic battle with a mysterious foe. Although Yaakov seems to overpower him, his adversary pulls a crafty maneuver on Yaakov's sciatic nerve and causes the showdown to come to an abrupt end. We are told (32:33) "Therefore B'nei Yisroel shall not eat the sinew of the vein which is on the hollow of the thigh until this day for he touched the hollow of Yaakov's thigh in the sinew of the vein." Indeed, we are forbidden from eating that part of the animal due to its significance in this episode. However, this pasuk does not appear immediately after the fight. The Torah first tells us that the sun had risen and Yaakov was still limping on his thigh. Only then does the Torah proceed with "Therefore..."
    I believe the message here is that the prohibition against eating the sciatic nerve is not simply because it was used to end the battle with the angel. The significant fact in this episode is that this injury caused Yaakov lingering pain. The confrontation between Yaakov and what is commonly accepted to have been the angelic manifestation of Eisav is often understood as a harbinger of the eternal strife between Yaakov and Eisav, a constant war of values and ideals. This war is never won, at least not until the end of days. Yaakov's injury symboizes our weak point that Eisav is able to find. It is not simply the initial injury that is significant. It is Yaakov being hampered by that injury even after the sun rose bringing the dawn of a new day that symbolizes the constant thorn in our side that is Eisav. This is why we must constantly be mindful of this threat and thus, refrain from eating the sciatic nerve.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Al Pi Cheshbon: Goats and Amicable Numbers by Ari Brodsky
AstroTorah: Eisav's Angel Fades Away by R' Ari Storch

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