Ma’asei Avot Siman Lebanim by Dov Rossman


“Vayomer Im Yavo Esav El Hamachne Ha’achat Vihikahu Vihaya Hamachane Hanishar Lifleita”

Rashi comments (based on a Midrash) that Yaakov Avinu prepared for the meeting with Esav in three ways: militarily, with bribery, with prayer to Hashem.

The Brisker Rav, quoting the Vilna Gaon, explains the Pasuk using Chazal’s concept of “Ma’asei Avot Siman Lebanim,” the events of our forefathers are a sign to us.  We have to take the events that our forefathers have experienced, study them, and then apply them to our lives.  We can learn from Yaakov’s actions that if a certain Jewish community is being threatened and has enough military strength to overcome its enemy, it must try to avoid military conflict and use diplomatic means such as monetary offers and bribes to try and avoid bloodshed.  We must also always turn to Hashem in prayer to try and avoid the conflict.  On the other hand, we must always be militarily prepared for such a war, as Yaakov was, in case the enemy refuses our offers.

We can apply this to the current situation that Medinat Yisrael is faced with.  Some nations of the world have tried to destroy us as much as possible.  However, our response has been to offer land in order to retain peace in Eretz Yisrael.  In addition, Jews around the world have also been praying for peace in Eretz Yisrael.  However, when our ‘bribes’ for peace have been refused, Tzahal has been prepared to retain peace in Eretz Yisrael.  Whether we agree with Medinat Yisrael’s peace offers or not, we might be able to learn a valuable lesson from them, namely, even today we might be viewed as following the footsteps of our Avot, and are trying to bring peace to Am Yisrael with monetary offers and prayer instead of turning to violence and bloodshed.

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