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Parashat Vayishlach – Fear Of Sin

וַיִּירָא יַעֲקֹב מְאֹד וַיֵּצֶר לוֹ

And Yaakov became very frightened and was distressed

 

Yaakov was nervous. Esav, his brother who had previously committed to murdering him, was advancing upon him with four hundred men in his command. Yaakov came up with a plan of action. He split his family into two groups so that even if Esav succeeded in getting to one of them, perhaps the other would manage to escape.

Rabbenu Yerucham writes that Yaakov’s fear was all based on one possibility. “Perhaps I have sullied myself with sin” is how Rashi terms it.

The Gemara relates the story of Rav Huna, who made his living as a wine salesman. Rav Huna once had four hundred barrels of wine sour on him, causing him a tremendous loss. His colleagues sat with him and discussed what could have caused such a thing to happen. They didn’t check if his storage houses were properly temperature controlled, nor did they examine his machinery for impurities. They went over his actions to see where he may have sinned. 

It was clear to Rav Huna and his colleagues, like Yaakov Avinu before them, that no matter the situation, harm can only befall us if we did something to “earn” it. There is no reason to fear Esav or his modern-day counterparts, no reason for harm to come our way at all, unless our actions haven’t been up to par.

 

Shabbat Shalom

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