Thought of the Week: Vayishlach - 5781
GRABBING A DOG BY THE EARS
Pareshat Vayishlach begins with Yaakov sending messengers ahead of him to his brother Esav, asking for permission to make his way home.
Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, the Ramban, notes that the rabbis in the Midrash take Yaakov to task for his decision.
The rabbis compare Yaakov's activities to the verse in Mishlei: "Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears." In other words, since Esav was not bothering Yaakov, Yaakov should not have aroused his brother, and could have avoided the whole commotion.
The Ramban adds that, in his opinion, the behavior of Yaakov was setting a template for future generations as well. He notes that after the miraculous victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greeks, Yehudah the Hasmonean king sent a delegation to Rome to establish a political alliance with the Romans. For the Ramban, this tactical move by Yehudah was the same type of miscalculation that Yaakov made; to solicit a relationship with someone that should have been ignored. Ramban ends off by telling us that the nation of Israel paid a heavy price for Yehudah's error because "it was the cause of the Jewish people falling into the hands of the Romans."
It appears that a sovereign Jewish nation needs to think twice before getting a superpower involved in their business.