Monday, September 29, 2008

1:3: 79: Slay or Be Slain

Section 79

"Then Jacob was greatly afraid and was distressed" (Gen. 32:8). R. Judah bar R. Ilai asked: Are not fear and distress identical? The meaning, however, is that "he was afraid" lest he should be slain "and was distressed" lest he should slay. For he thought: If Esau proves stronger than I, he might slay me, and if I prove stronger than he, I might slay him.

While I am also bothered by the negative aspects of some of the Midrashim about Esau, this one is beautiful. It is a possible basis for the well known quote from Golda Meir to the Arabs: "We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours."

We should always remember that force may be needed but that doesn't make it good. We may have to kill, but we should still do teshuvah for it.

Shanah Tovah u'Metukah.

No comments: