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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

VaYishlach 8-3

And (he) sent

Genesis 32:30 (31 Heb.) – 33:5

But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.

Gen. 33:4 NIV

Was Esav’s kiss genuine?

The Hebrew text shows a slightly different feature in this instance. The Hebrew word translated as “and kissed him” – vayishkahu,וישקהו  – has a small dot over each letter. The famous medieval commentator Rashi explains that when these kinds of dots are over a word it is a sign that the word must be interpreted in a special way. If there are more letters than dots, the word is interpreted as it is, but if there are more dots than letters, the letters under the dots count as a separate word from the one that is already there. In this text, the amount of dots and letter coincide and therefore, there are different interpretation opinions among the rabbis. Some say that the word must be interpreted as if it didn’t exist, that is, that Esav’s kiss was fictitious. Others think that it must be understood the other way around, that even if Esav hated Yaakov, he had compassion in that moment and that the kiss was really heartfelt.

Personally, I believe we must interpret the text according to the last opinion. Within Esav, there was both good and bad, as in anyone. In the moment of this encounter, the Eternal activated the positive emotions he had toward his brother and the miracle of that wonderful encounter between both just happened. This came as a result of the struggle that our father Yaakov had the night before. After having humbling himself and acknowledged his fault, he was lifted up and blessed. The Eternal took control of the situation and produced this divine encounter between them. Yaakov acknowledges that not only did he see the face of the Almighty in the angel that strove with him, but also in the face of his brother who received him in such a wonderful way. 

How great the Eternal is! He can change death into life. Certain death for Yaakov and his family was changed into life and peace. He who humbles before the Eternal will be exalted and see a radical change in his circumstances. 

Yaakov’s experience is also a symbol that speaks of the death and resurrection of the Son of Man. He humbled himself to the greatest extent; he was hung and killed on the Roman execution stake. And because of that humble and obedient act, the Eternal rose him from the dead and lifted him up to the highest place, giving him a name that is above all names, so that he can now act as a governor of all creation in the Name of the Eternal.

May the Eternal help us humble ourselves before His powerful hand and experience those radical changes that we need in order to live a life in victory.


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