Israel Forever

For the week ending 23 November 2002 / 18 Kislev 5763

A Change of Heart

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

When will Arafat finally come to the conclusion that the Palestinians will not gain anything from terror?

When will the rest of the free world rally behind the American-British initiative to put a brake on international terror by making an example of at least one member of that "axis of evil" identified by President Bush?

When will all the Jew-haters throughout the world finally learn to live in peace with the people they have threatened for thousands of years?

These questions, and many more like them which most of us ask about politics and politicians, find a theological answer in this weeks Torah portion. Yaakov and his family, on their way back to Eretz Yisrael, are threatened by the forefather of Jew-haters, Esav and his band of 400 terrorist followers. Yaakov does everything in his power to avert this danger to himself, his family and future generations. He uses diplomacy in the form of lavish gifts and humbling himself before his brother. He prays to Heaven and even prepares himself for war.

The dramatic climax to this confrontation finds Esav embracing and kissing the brother he had vowed to destroy. What turned the trick? It is hard to imagine that Esav was deterred by the puny resistance Yaakov was capable of offering by splitting his camp in two and concealing weapons behind the clothes of the vastly outnumbered defenders. In his commentary, Ramban assigns some of the credit to the diplomatic subservience of Yaakov but accords the lions share to his prayer.

Just as man determines with his digging where the waters of a river will flow, says King Solomon (Mishlei 21:1), so is the heart of the king in the hand of G-d Who directs it to wherever He wishes. Although ordinary humans have free will to choose right or wrong, this freedom is sometimes suspended by Heaven when a rulers decision affects the fate of his nation and other nations. Heavens response to Yaakovs prayers came not in the form of a miraculous military triumph but rather in the change of heart of his enemy.

This should answer all the questions we ask about events in our region and throughout the world and provide the formula for assuring Israel forever.

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