Our Sages tell us that the underlying struggle between Yaakov and the angel of Esav was Yaakov's demand that the angel acknowledge that the blessings of Yitzchak were rightfully his. If so, why did Yitzchak not initially give them to Yaakov? Further, asks Rabbi S. Kluger, why is Yaakov so impressed when he sees the angel that he names the place in his merit. He had already encountered angels when he left Lavan, and camps of angels accompanied him. Then he named the place
/Camps without invoking God's name. Finally, the Torah implies that the sun rose specifically for Yaakov, and Rashi comments that it rose to heal him even though technically the sun rises for all earthly creatures.
cites an incident in the
. Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yehoshua were accompanying Rabban Gamliel to buy meat for his son's wedding when they were discussing this verse. Rabbi Yitzchak notes that the sun rose here prematurely to offset the lost hours when it had set early so that Yaakov would sleep at Har Hamoriah. Why does it matter whom Rabbi Akiva was with and where they were going? The
explains that the experiences of our forefathers are harbingers of future events in the history of their descendants, the Jewish people. He notes that Hashem tests His people with two opposites, wealth and poverty. When one is wealthy, the tendency is to attribute what one has accumulated to one's own strengths and forget about Hashem. On the other hand, poverty is also challenging and can cause one to rebel against his Creator. Citing the Chasam Sofer and the Ktav Sofer, Rabbi Friedman posits that the challenge of wealth is easier than the challenge of poverty, and Hashem always tests the person with the easier challenge first.
When Yaakov fled Esau's wrath, he convinced Eliphaz to take his belongings rather than kill him, for a poor man is considered as if dead. Yet Yaakov throughout his sojourn with Lavan remained true to Hashem and withstood the challenge of poverty. Now, however, upon his return, Yaakov was prosperous. Esau's angel mistakenly thought that Yaakov was so infatuated with material things that he couldn't even leave his miniscule jugs behind. He thought Yaakov would fail the test of wealth, and therefore he fought him. But Yaakov prevailed. When the angel saw that he would not be swayed in his belief, he shifted his focus to his descendants, symbolized by Yaakov's thigh, and in fact, many Jews failed the test of wealth and became assimilated.
explains why Yitzchak initially refused to give Yaakov the blessing of wealth. Esau was already corrupt, so giving him additional wealth would not cause much damage. But for the pure Yaakov, it might indeed be a tremendous stumbling block. However, now that Yaakov has withstood the test of wealth, he is justified in demanding to be acknowledged as the worthy recipient of his father's blessing. Therefore, the angel blesses him by saying he will no longer be the lowly, heel-like Yaakov, but a
, a prince of wealth and power. And now the rising sun represents his rise in station. Homiletically, Hashem first had the sun set, alluding to the trial of poverty that would befall future generations, and then the sun rose, alluding to the trials of wealth his descendants would face. Future generations would struggle with wealth, would limp along, but if they remained steadfast in their faith, the sun would shine upon them and they would be healed. Rabbi Akiva related this to Rabban Gamliel to hint to him that although marriage changes a person's circumstances and often presents financial hardships, he should encourage his son to continue learning Torah in spite of any obstacles along the way.
Rabbi Moshe Breslaver points out that while an
, a Man fought with Yaakov, Yaakov later recognized the "face" of
, of God Himself as the source of this battle. Indeed, the struggle with Amalek is constant. Amalek always tries to cloud our vision of Hashem. Yaakov recognized the purpose of this "Man," that it was a trial sent by God, and he was successful in defeating him and keeping his vision of God clear. Therefor the Torah changes the name of the place where he fought from Pniel to the plural Pnuel, to remind all of us who are called
, to recognize Hashem's presence in every challenge we face. We are to be encouraged, that just as Yaakov defeated the power of evil, writes Rabbi M. Shapiro, so too will we defeat the powers of evil that confront us.
Esau was meant to inherit the external beauty and physical skills, while Yaakov inherited the inner essence, the
. Rivka understood that if Esau got the blessings of the outer world, he would destroy Yaakov. Therefore she clothed Yaakov in Esau's clothing. Yaakov's mission is to bring the inner essence of the
onto the outer, physical world. When we can do that, we merit the blessings of both the inner and outer worlds. While it is true that sometimes we limp along on our journey, ultimately the sun will shine on
Yaakov saw God "face to face". He saw the reflection of God within himself, and recognized that the outer world of the angel/man had nothing to offer him. It is with this understanding, writes Rabbi Schorr, that he can take the outer world and use it to serve God. The
uses the confusion generated by constant busyness to keep us from seeing God clearly. Within the Hebrew letters of
is an anagram for
; when my head is on straight and I can think clearly, I can recognize Hashem in all aspects of the physical world in addition to the spiritual world.
Yitzchak was afraid to give Yaakov the blessing of wealth, but Yaakov can be successful. He may struggle, but he uses his head and sees through the evil angels, and the sun can shine on him and on the whole world. He sees clearly
, that He is One. May we also merit that the sun of clarity and healing shine upon us.