Our world is one of many challenges — of that, there is no doubt. Interpersonal conflict, the temptation to be dishonest or to act improperly, physical threats to one’s well being — the challenges abound! To well-meaning people who seek to help others and live honestly, these challenges are a constant source of frustration and disappointment. Amidst such challenges one may wonder, “Why must it be this way? Is this the world of a loving G-d?” These are important questions to ask, yet difficult to address. I won’t attempt to do justice to the fundamental issue, but perhaps the following thought can help us maintain a healthy, positive attitude.
Before Jacob confronts his brother Esau, he battles with an unnamed “man” (see Gen. 32:25), whom the Talmud says was an angel. This confrontation was both a physical and spiritual challenge to Jacob, which he ultimately overcame. The defeated angel immediately begs of Jacob, “Let me go, the morning has come.” The Talmud explains that this angel needed to return to Heaven to sing praises to G-d.
Why was this moment the time for singing praises? The Tshebiner Rav zt”l says that when the forces of evil, as embodied by this angel, are defeated — those forces celebrate. Ultimately, the angels of evil are forces of the Al-mighty Himself, sent to challenge mankind and spur growth. G-d is, in this way, like the brutal coach who subjects his players to months of grueling practice, leads them to victory against the toughest challengers in the league, and then warmly embraces his team and celebrates their triumph.
Rabbi Mordechai Dixler
Program Director, Project Genesis – Torah.org