Noahide Seven Commandments Torah classes
© 2016 by Rabbi Zvi Aviner
Torah Class JUSTICE-6/Israel: Justice with Peace
1: Would Jacob Return Home in Peace?
You know the story. Whenever Jacob attempted to bring out his truth to the open, he had to run away for his life.
He had tried to assure his status as a firstborn, and he was successful in doing this, but consequently he had to escape Esau for his life.
He had attempted to have Lavan pay for his hard work, and he was successful in doing this, yet he ended up running away with his small family for his life.
As the rabbis said: “Where there is truth and JUSTICE, there is no peace.”
The source of that statement comes from the prophet Zechariah who says: “seek truth, justice and peace” (8: 16)
The Talmud asks (Sanhedrin 6:2): “Why does the prophet mention seeking peace? Isn’t seeking justice and truth good enough? And their answer is: where there is justice and truth, there is no peace. The prophet therefore wishes us justice with peace, even without truth.
On a deeper level: whenever you try to play ELKM and seek to bring out the absolute Truth and JUSTICE to the open, you’d end up like ELKM - attempting to destroy His World, as it happened on the Sixth Day of CREATION before the Sabbath.
And seeking peace was much on Jacob’s mind, no less than JUSTICE. When he had escaped home for Lavan, he had his Ladder Dream after which he vowed that if HaSsheM would bring him back home with PEACE, he would “Make YHVH my ELKM” meaning he would accept on himself one more Commandment and would keep the old ones with more stringency.
Now as he was running from Lavan, peace seemed unreachable. Behind him to the north was Laban, threatening his life, and in the front of him to the south was Esau coming at him with “four hundred armed men” ready for a bloody confrontation.
Would he ever enjoy JUSTICE with PEACE?
2: Confronting Esau’s Angel alone
His heart full of worries, Jacob with his family crossed a river near the southern shore of the Sea of the Galilees, the Yabok River. Recalling that he left some items behind, Jacob crossed back this time alone, as it says:
“And he (Jacob) rose up that night and took his two wives
And his two women-servants, and his eleven sons
And he passed over the ford of Yabok.
And he took them and sent them over the water-spring
And sent over that which he had.
And Jacob was left alone.
As he was alone, a ‘man’ came and wrestled with him through the night.
That ‘man,’ tradition says, was Esau’s Angel, the one who represents him in the Heavenly Choir.
Fighting for a settlement
What happened? The Heavenly Court, seeing that Jacob encountered WAR time and again, while seeking JUSTICE, decided to confront IN PRIVATE the two parties: Esau and Jacob.
This procedure of enforced settlement is a normal practice in Jewish Torah Courts.
As a rule, the Jewish Court would send the parties to attempt and settle their dispute between them in private, under the auspices of the Court. The judge prefers that the litigants would come to a peaceful agreement between them, before they ask the Judge to issue a verdict. The court knows that a verdict imposed by the Curt may never satisfy the two parties and peace would never be achieved. The loosing party would always attempt tp challenge the verdict and appeal to a higher Court. A settlement, in contrast, may evade the absolute trutrh but would assure JUSTICE WITH PEACE.
in the American judiciary system, the settlement is done OUTSIDE the Court. In the Torah Court the settlement is done under the auspices of the Court.
Thus when the litigants finally report their settlement to the Court, the Judge would seal it and support it EVEN THOUGH THE JUDGE MAY NEVER KNOW THE TRUTH BETWEEN THE PARTIES.
This way JUTICE is achieved with PEACE, with the cost of knowing the absolute TRUTH.
3: They wrestled till dust arose
“And Jacob was left alone,
And a Man wrestled with him
Till the breaking of the day…”
The story goes that the “Man” which confronted Jacob ALONE looked like an Arab passenger, offering Jacob a hand as if to help him cross the river back. Jacob grabbed the hand with thanks, but to his surprise the “Man” held his hand firmly and they began to wrestle. Whoever pushes the opponent to the ground, wins!
They wrestled through the entire night. No human ear heard their arguments and accusations they hit each other. The Hebrew word for ‘wrestled’ Va-Ye-aa-Vek can be read as if they (1) hugged (Habek) (2) hit each other by fists, so hard that dust (aaVaK) came up from the ground (Rashi.)
Then at dawn, Jacob’s hip was dislocated and he almost fell to the ground. This happened when he realized that Esau had a great merit of taking care of their parents. But at daybreak Jacob overcame the Angel and held him to the ground, as it is said:
“And when he saw that he did not prevail against him
He touched the hollow of his thigh,
And the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated
As he wrestled with him
And he said: let me go for the day has broken…”
4: Jacob’s name turning to Israel
The Angelic Morning Choir.
Why did the Angel beg Jacob “Let me go, for the daylight has broken?” The rabbis explained: The Angel was at that time the leader of the Morning Angelic Choir that chants at sunrise “Holy, Holy, Holy, the world is full of His Glory,” (Isaiah 6:3.) The time to join the choir arrived.
But Jacob held the Angel down, unless he would consent and bless him:
“And he (the Angel) said: Let me go, for the daylight has arrived.
And he (Jacob) said, I will not let you go unless you bless me.
And he (the Angel) said to him: What is your name?
And he said: Jacob.
And he (the Angel) said: Your name shall be called no more Jacob but Israel,
for you’ve contended with El and with men and have prevailed.
And Jacob asked him and said: Tell me, I pray you, your name.
And he (the Angel) said: Why is it that you ask after my name?
And he (the Angel) blessed him there.
And Jacob called the place Penuel, for I have seen El face to face
and my life has been saved.
And the sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel and limped over his thigh... “
Departing in peace
No one knows exactly what the Angel and Jacob said against each other IN PRIVATE. And that is really of no body’s business. The important fact is that Esau and Jacob settled IN PEACE.
On a deeper level: YHVH’s Nickname is PEACE.
Hence, by settling their dispute by a dialogue, Jacob (and Esau) united ELKM with YHVH.
ELKM alone would seek the absolute Truth, with no attention to peace.
YHVH alone would FORGIVE in MERCY and COMPASSION.
It is the uniting of ELKM with YHVH that makes JUSTICE durable, a “Very Good” JUSTICE; the JUSTICE which comes with PEACE.
The Angel also gave Jacob a new name, Israel.
It means: One Who Wrestles with El and wins.
It also means: A Prince with EL.
Israel is a ‘human king’ sitting by the throne of the King of Kings, G-d.
On a deeper level: Let’s recall from Genesis that whenever the Attribute ELKM consults with YHVH, they form the Heavenly Court or the Heavenly KINGSHIP.
Why? For in Hebrew, the word “to consult,” Nimlakh, is the SAME as “to be enthroned.”
Hence in the Hebrew language: Who is a King, Melekh? Only the ruler who consults, Nimlakh. You don’t have that insight in any other language.
For instance: before making Adam, ELKM consulted with YHVH saying in plural: “let us make Adam in our form and our image”. Adam was made by the CREATOR-KING-FATHER.
Hence when Jacob reached a settlement with Esau via a direct dialogue, Jacob became Israel, a par with the KING. The JUSTICE he received would last forever IN PEACE, and is preferable over the JUSTICE that might come with WAR.
No wonder that in Kabala, the term ISRAEL has come to designate THE GLORY (tif-ere-th )of YHVH ELKM’s KINGSHIP.
Here is the famous kabalistic diagram of the Attributes depicting Israel:
As you see, Israel is par with El, and also unites ELKM with YHVH, to make Him OUR KING.
If you think we are through with the meaning of the word ISRAEL, you are wrong.
Next we’ll study another, perhaps the most important meaning of the name.
END OF JUSTICE CLASS 6