The Bite of the Kiss
Bite of the Kiss
week’s portion features the epic meeting between Yaakov and his brother Esav
(Jacob and Esau).
the moment that Yaakov realizes he and Esav are destined to meet, we find
crucial guidelines as to how we, the Jewish people, must act when we are with
our non-Jewish neighbors.
Yaakov leaves the house of his father in law Lavan, he realizes Esav still wants
to kill him. He decides to take the initiative and prepare in three different
ways: 1. He prepares for war. 2.
He sends tribute to Esav, with the hope of appeasing him. 3. He prays to G-d. These three things are the Jewish way when
confronting an adversary. If at all possible we want to avoid loss of
life. We therefore send tribute. But we also must be realistic, and
prepare for the eventuality of war. And the third thing, prayer, is done
in any event, because anything we do should be with our eyes and hearts towards
Yaakov eventually meets face to face with Esav,
Esav kisses him. Yet in the Torah a series of dots appears over the word Vayishakahu—and
he kissed him. What is the meaning of these dots? According to one
opinion, Esav actually kissed him sincerely. According to another opinion
he kissed him, though it was insincere. A third opinion is that Esav actually
do we reconcile the divurgent opinions of biting and kissing? We can gain an understanding from the following dialogue
between them: Soon after their embrace Esav asks Yaakov to join him: “Travel
on and let us go—I will proceed beside you.” Yaakov answers back: “My
master knows the children are weak” (Gen. Ch.33 V.13).
is Yaakov saying to Esav? Esav is asking Yaakov to join him. Not
merely literally, but also figuratively, to join him in his lifestyle, to live
as he does. And Yaakov is telling him that the children are weak, a euphemism
for the sad fact that Jews are often only too willing to assimilate into the
culture of the dominant society (in this case, besides having more men, Esav and
his band were also warriors, as opposed to the children of Yaakov).
in reality the kiss and bite of Esav are similar; while the bite is a physical
blow, the kiss is an even more insidious weapon: the kiss of the melting pot -
In the past 65 years the Jews have gone through both of these overtures from society. Each one in its own way has decimated the Jewish people.We as Jews have to learn that, although there are many positive things to learn from the culture of whatever country we happen to be in, it is still not our culture; our culture is the Torah. So while it is okay to borrow certain ideas from other cultures, we cannot ignore our culture, or modernize it with laughable and (judging from the intermarriage rate) unsuccessful gimmicks.