Parashat Vayishlach: Yaakov Avinu – Adversities

Yaakov returned to Eretz Yisrael, but his life was also beset by adversity there. In fact, he suffered throughout his lifetime, starting from his conception when "the children clashed within her" (in the mother's womb [Bereshit 25:22]) and on through his birth when "his hand grasped the heel of Esav" (ibid. v. 26). He then had to buy the birthright (ibid. v. 33), received his father's blessing by deceit (ibid. 27:6-29), was forced to flee to Charan to save himself from his brother Esav who was plotting to kill him (ibid. v. 41-46), was duped into marrying the sister of the woman he wanted to marry (ibid. 29:20-25), was repeatedly swindled by his father-in-law Lavan(ibid. 31:41 and 30:28-43), had a confrontation with his "loving" brother Esav upon his return home (ibid. 32:3-33:18), suffered: the rape and abduction of his daughter Dinah, the reprisal attack on the city of Shechem (chap. 34), his son’s hatred of their brother Yosef (ibid. 37:1-12), the loss of this most beloved son of his (ibid. 37:12-36), the imprisonment of Shimon and later of Binyamin (chaps. 43-44), the crossing of his hands and the switching of his blessings to his grandsons (ibid. 48:10-21), etc., etc. There was not a period in Yaakov’s life that was free of hardship and tribulations. The greater a matter is, the more trouble and afflictions are associated with it. Yaakov is the most ideal of the forefathers (Bereshit Rabbah 76:1), because he was the final product – the full-blown Jew – that resulted from the creative process that transpired through our forefathers, Avraham and Yitzchak. "It was Yaakov who redeemed" (Yeshayahu 29:22)." Avraham's very existence is justified and gains significance by virtue of the fact that Yaakov is his descendant. Yaakov's life is beset by complications specifically because of his greatness (Zohar, Bereshit 207).