The Two Columns - וישלח

Thursday, 8 December, 2022 - 9:10 pm


The Two Columns 


When Jacob, the third Patriarch, prepared to meet his brother Esau, he divided his family and the people with him into two camps. 


Jacob became very frightened and was distressed; so he divided the people who were with him and the flocks and the cattle and the camels into two camps.

And he said, "If Esau comes to one camp and strikes it down, the remaining camp will escape." (Genesis 32:89)


Esau represents the world of "chaos", whereas Jacob embodies the "world of order". Before the world as we know it was created, G-d emanated ten intense energies; each was too intense to compromise and interconnect with the others. As a result, the energies clashed and were shattered. Then, G-d emanated the powers of order, whose energy was dimmed and thus able to interact with a different energy to become the building blocks of creation. 


Jacob was the third Patriarch, for he embodied the "middle column", which exists specifically in the world of order, that can synthesize the two extreme "columns", the kindness and love of his grandfather Abraham with the discipline and awe of his father, Isaac. Yet, in preparation to meet his brother Esau, a product and embodiment of the intensity of the world of chaos, Jacob divided his camp in two, because he understood that it was his responsibility not to ignore or destroy but rather to elevate and channel the chaotic energy. To align his camp with the chaotic energy, Jacob divided his camp in two, for the number two represents the two extremes that cannot interact with each other. The meeting of Jacob and Esau represents the fusion of the intensity and passion of chaos with the focused application of order. 


The Torah teaches us, the descendants of Jacob, how to balance order and chaos. Each morning we dedicate time to pray, to awaken the chaotic desire to "run", to escape the confines of life, and cleave to G-d. Yet that feeling is followed by the commitment to "return", channeling that desire for transcendence and applying it within the framework and limitation of daily life. 


Adapted from Torah Ohr Vayishlach 



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