The war of Armageddon, the battle of good and evil, and the fight between Light and darkness – it is all the same conflict. When Adam and Eve took the advice of the serpent in the Garden of Eden and ate from the Tree of Knowledge (of Good and Evil), they separated the physical world from the spiritual world. This brought death and chaos into the world, and they were thrown out of the garden. Since then, humanity has been fighting its way back to the Garden of Eden by reconnecting the physical world with the spiritual world; bringing Light to bear on all aspects of darkness, ending chaos. We live in a physical world, but want it to be guided and directed by the spiritual world.
This is the lesson we learn from Jacob in the portion of Vayishlach. Most of us want to run away from our negativity, we want to stay away from the negative people in our lives, and we don’t want to “relive” our past difficulties. But Jacob, who had been separated from Esau for 20 years, now makes plans to meet Esau. Commentators ask: Why did Jacob seek out Esau? Why not just leave him alone? The last time Jacob saw his negative twin brother, Esau wanted to kill him. They were in two different places; they didn’t have to ever meet. But Jacob knew that by chasing down the negativity and transforming the darkness into Light through actions of sharing and love, he could achieve his total potential, he could reveal all the Light in his soul, he could have all the blessings the Creator set out for him, as the Creator does for all of us.
Jacob knew that in order to have Heaven on Earth, the Final Redemption, he needed to awaken the Light in Esau and all other negative people. The Garden of Eden included all people, so the Final Redemption requires the Light in everyone’s soul. The kabbalists teach that regardless of religion, culture, or race, the study of the Zohar is the most powerful way to awaken the Light in our souls. We want to bring all peoples together in unity in order to speed up the process of the Final Redemption.
Jacob’s story teaches us on a personal level that it is the best for us to constantly make efforts to transform our negativity into Light. The Zohar says that as we transform our nature, our evil inclination becomes transformed and begins to serve our good inclination to assist in our continued work of elevating our consciousness into the Tree of Life.
How do we achieve this transformation? Like Jacob shows us, we need to send “gifts” of Light to all the areas of darkness and negativity, individually and collectively. Using kabbalistic tools such as the Zohar, 72 Names of God allows us to send Light to our negative situations. That way we prepare the situation and strengthen ourselves in order to face our negativity and act with Light, love, forgiveness, and understanding, and transform the darkness and negativity to Light and blessings.
As the portion continues, Jacob wrestles with the angel of Esau. We cannot defeat negativity by physical means alone. We cannot get rid of chaos solely by politics, by military action, by medical research, scientific advancements, or by changing manufacturing methods. To make changes only on a physical basis does not remove the cause of all chaos – the opponent. Physical changes alone only cause various types of chaos to change shape – from one disease to another, from one conflict to another, from one country to another. Removing the opponent will remove all shapes and forms of chaos, forever. Jacob’s story teaches us that in order to have eternal happiness and peace, we must wrestle with and overcome our personal opponent. As we do this, we can help other people to do the same. Look how it worked for Jacob. Because Jacob sent so much Light to Esau (the “gifts”), Esau was only able to kiss Jacob; he couldn’t kill him, as was his original intent.
At the point where we have turned our negativity to Light, our chaos to order, we become a “new” person; we receive a “new name.” As Jacob was blessed by the angel of Esau, so are we blessed with the Light that is hiding inside our negativity. As Jacob’s name changed from Jacob to Israel, our name, kabbalistically, represents our desires. Therefore, with every spiritual transformation our desires are elevated from the physical to the spiritual, desiring the Light as the source of fulfillment and not seeing physicality as the source of our fulfillment. The more Light we reveal from our souls, the more we become the Light-beings that the Creator created us to be.
One of the struggles that most of us have as we progress on our spiritual path is the letting go of people and things that we are used to. Sometimes as we grow to a new spiritual level, some people currently in our lives are not ready to grow to their next level, and therefore we will part ways. This doesn’t have to be a negative situation, but we have to learn to let them go their way and send them Light, think of them with unconditional love, and know that it is for the highest good of both people. It is very helpful to remember that we are all journeying to our Heaven on Earth, and the faster we can grow, the faster we bring all people with us.
Together let us use the portion of Vayishlach to give us the strength we all need to face our negativity, to bring enough Light to bear on it to transform it into blessings, and together will turn the current state of chaos in the world to the state of the Garden of Eden, peace and goodwill between all mankind.