Parshas Vayishlach – Yaakov Sends Angels To Esav

By Shalom Olensky


This week in the Torah:

Upon hearing that Esau is out to kill him, Jacob sends angels to Esau to try and appease him.

Rashi comments:

Jacob sent real angels.

The Maggid of Mezritch interprets:

Jacob sent only the “realness” of the angels to Esau. [Many angels find expression in forces of nature or physical embodiment; like the angels that came to Abraham, (Genesis Ch. 18), disguised as men. For angels, this is referred to here as their “tangibility” or “realness.” This is secondary to what an angel really is – a spiritual being.] Their spirituality, Jacob kept near to himself.


Rashi’s use of the word “real” is to emphasize that they were truly spiritual beings and capable of elevating Esau. The Maggid’s interpretation of this same Rashi seems to use the word “real” to emphasize the exact opposite; on their mission they were not fully there…, their spirituality was elsewhere…!


The Maggid does not mean to take away from the spirituality and capability of the angels on their mission. The Maggid does mean to explain the method for success on a spiritual mission from Jacob, to elevate Esau who effused materialistic decadence. In order to succeed by being “real angels” in coarse surroundings, and to be able to elevate Esau, the emissaries-angels had to feel that their presence near Esau is secondary and insignificant in comparison with their real and spiritual home which was with Jacob.


A Jew is always on a mission in this physical world to elevate it to G-d. The way to not be dragged down by the physical and materialistic is to constantly feel that one is here only as an emissary of the Almighty to do His work. A Jew can only feel at home in G‑dly surroundings.

(Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 10, Vayishlach—19 Kislev)

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