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Shabbat Parashat Vayishlach 5780

Parashat Hashavua: A Working Malach - part II

Harav Yosef Carmel

Last week we presented the idea that the word malach (angel) is related to the word melacha (work) and that one who works with honesty and in accordance with Hashem’s will is considered a malach of sorts.

Yaakov reached this level because he worked with honesty for his father-in-law, even though the latter tried to trick him several times and was sometimes successful at it. His name (Lavan Ha’arami) hints at his moral level. The letters of Lavan also spell out naval (disgusting person), and of Arami also spell out ramai (cheat). Yet Yaakov described how hard he worked both in the day and at night (Bereishit 31:38-40). On his way back from Aram, Yaakov met malachim and called the place of meeting, Machanayim. All commentaries agree that these angels helped him in his struggle against his brother, Eisav.

Moving forward a few hundred years, we look at David. Even before he became king, David worked with great dedication to prevent plundering of the flocks of the inhabitants of the greater Chevron area. The workers of Naval (reminiscent of Lavan) were disturbed that Naval did not show appreciation to David for his contribution to Naval’s prosperity (Shmuel I, 25:15-16). They mentioned how David worked hard in the day and the night, pushing off sleep.

The matters of the hard work in the day and the night and the lack of the recipient’s appreciation connect the stories of Yaakov and David. Both of them were like malachim who sanctified Hashem’s name with their comportment. Therefore, it is not surprising that in three different places in Shmuel (I, 29:9; II, 14:17; II, 14:20) those who interacted with David said that he resembled a malach.

Another connection between Yaakov and David is the mention of Machanayim (see last week regarding Yaakov, and Shmuel II, 17:24 regarding David). In David’s case, he was assisted by three “malachim,” kind people, some Jewish and some not, who supplied David with necessities when he was fleeing from the rebellion of his son Avshalom and Avshalom’s large entourage. These are reminiscent of the angels that helped Yaakov, who was preparing for the arrival of his hostile brother. David, just like Yaakov, broke up his encampment into three groups. Also, one of the situations in which David did not allow himself to sleep because of the great task before him was in finding the place of and making preparations for the Beit Hamikdash (see Tehillim 132:3-4).

While the question has been discussed many times as to why David did not make it into the list of all-time leaders of the nation, with the forefathers, we see that the Torah hints at significant overlap between him and at least one of them.
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