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Saturday, December 14, 2019 - 16 Kislev 5780
 
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Point of Light

In the Torah portion of Vayetzei, Jacob runs away from his brother Esau to escape his anger after “stealing” their father’s blessings. Jacob feared his brother and ran to Charan, to his Uncle Laban, a known swindler.

On his journey, G-d appeared to him in a dream and promised to protect him. When Jacob awoke, he remembered his dream and prayed, “Return me in peace to my father’s home.” He committed to bring offerings to G-d if he would return safe and sound.

Thirty-five years later, Jacob indeed returned home after many long years in Laban’s home. There he had become his son-in-law and contended with Laban’s numerous attempts to swindle him out of his hard-earned wages. Finally he escaped from there with his wives, Laban’s daughters, and their children. Laban came running after him but surprisingly, their encounter ended with a handshake and erecting a monument. Closer to home, Jacob had a nasty encounter with his brother Esau, who came towards him with an army of 400 men. Jacob prepared for war that seemed unavoidable, but once again the encounter ended peacefully. Not a drop of blood was shed, and the brothers even embraced and kissed.

*

This Sunday will mark the day of liberation of Rabbi Dov Ber, the second Rebbe of Chabad, known as the “Mittler” (middle) Rebbe. The Rebbe was imprisoned by the Russian Czar, accused of treason. The troubling story ended in a complete vindication for the Rebbe, with the government releasing him with a token of respect.  Like Jacob, whose encounters with Esau and Laban ended in his favor, the Rebbe’s struggles with the Russian government likewise ended with total exoneration.

The Rebbe was released from prison on the 10th of Kislev, 5587 (1826). In the daily portion of Psalms for that day, we read the verse, “He has redeemed my soul in peace.” This Psalm was written by King David after he was pursued by his son Absalom, who had rebelled against him and attempted to usurp the kingdom. David thanked G-d that the battle concluded peacefully. How did the victory come about? “Because the many were with me.” Many of Absalom’s soldiers were themselves loyal to King David deep in their hearts, and in the end Absalom’s fortunes were reversed.

The Mittler Rebbe was in a similar situation—even his enemies recognized the righteousness of his cause, just as Laban and Esau had to admit that justice was with Jacob.

*

The battle between darkness and light, good and evil, has been ongoing for millennia. It’s a battle that has taken many forms. Sometimes the good overpowers the evil, and sometimes, sadly, it’s the reverse.

Now, perhaps, we are approaching the final battle. There will come a time when the forces of evil will be vanquished completely. Like Esau and Laban, they will be forced to admit to the truth and to recognize all that is holy and good. Eventually when G-d reveals Himself in this world, the forces of evil will vanish completely and we will be redeemed in a peaceful and joyous manner. In the words of the prophet Isaiah (35:10): “G-d’s captives will return and come to Zion with happiness, with the joy of ages on their heads.”
 

 


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