Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Vayishlach - 5774
BOWING TO ESAV
When Yaakov finally meets Esav the Torah notes that “He passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother."
Rabbi Elie Munk z"l presents a symbolic explanation to the number of bows.
The Jewish calendar is based on the lunar year whereas the non-Jewish calendar is based on the solar year. The difference between them is about 210 days in a cycle of nineteen years. If this difference were not taken into account, our festivals would gradually take place earlier every year. The festival of Pesach instead of falling in spring as prescribed by the Torah would come to be celebrated in winter. To remedy this we add a month seven times every nineteen years.
Yaakov bowing, repeated seven times until he came up to his brother, is symbolic of this "bowing" of the moon (the symbol of Yaakov and the Jewish people) seven times until it catches up with the cycle of the sun- the symbol of Esav and the nations.