Israel Forever

For the week ending 2 July 2011 / 29 Sivan 5771

The Word and the Sword

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Words of peace by Israel's leaders are tragically countered by the swords of terror.

There is hardly new. In this week's Torah portion we learn of the efforts of Moshe to negotiate with the Edomites for permission for his people to pass through their land on their way to Eretz Yisrael. Along with the assurance that Edom will only gain economically from allowing such passage, Moshe subtly reminded the Edomite king that G-d heard his people's prayers in Egypt and was likely to hear their prayers again should there be a military confrontation.

But the hatred of Yaakov's descendants which these descendants of Eisav inherited from him expresses itself in Edom's mobilizing its army to prevent the requested passage.

The word was met with the sword before our ancestors even entered the land promised to the Patriarchs, and continues to encounter the same stubborn resistance of the sword in our own day.

When the Patriarch Yaakov declared that he sensed "the voice of Yaakov and the hands of Eisav", he prophetically described the conflict between word and sword, offering us the comforting assurance that as long as the words of Torah and prayer come from the voice of Yaakov's descendants, we will be safe from the sword of our enemies forever.

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