Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Vayishlach - 5773
THE FEAR OF FEAR
In 1933, as the United States was experiencing a period of great uncertainty, due to the Great Depression, a newly elected president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his inaugural address stated “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
According to some commentators Yaakov Avinu could have said the same thing. In the beginning of this week’s Paresha as Yaakov planned to enter the land of Israel he sent messengers to Esav, to assess his brother’s attitude towards him. When they returned they notified Yaakov that "We went to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you; four hundred men are with him." Being that Esav was on his way with an army, Yaakov understood that the situation was not good. The Torah describes him being “greatly afraid and distressed.” The Mefarshim explain that Yaakov was distressed from the fact that he was afraid. Being that our patriarch Yaakov was promised by Hashem that He will return him home, Yaakov should have remained confident of his situation. However when the emotion of fear took hold of Yaakov, he sensed a spiritual void that caused him distress. In other words: the only thing Yaakov had to fear was fear itself.