"And he passed before them, and bowed to the ground seven times." Rabbi Elazar quoted the verse: "for you shall worship no other G‑d: for the Al-mighty, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous G‑d". (Ex. 34:14) How could Jacob, the greatest of the patriarchs, the one chosen to be the perfect portion of G‑d and the one very close to Him, bow before this evil Esau, who stands on the side of idolatry? For bowing to him is the same as bowing to another god! You may find the answer by referring to the saying that when the fox is in the ascent, [even the lion will] bow to him. This, however, is not so, for Esau is considered as an idolater, and Jacob would never bow to that side and portion.

...when the fox is in the ascent, even the lion will bow to him.

[To explain this, see that] it is written, "and thus shall you say to him: To the Living One! Peace be to you, and peace to your house, and peace to all that you have". (I Samuel 25:6) If it is forbidden to give the first greeting of peace to wicked people [because Shalom/peace is a Name of G‑d], why did David say this to Nabal? He said this to G‑d [as hinted by the extra words to the greeting “to the Living One"] in order to connect Nabal with the Living One, although Nabal thought it was addressed to him.

Similarly, "Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head". (Gen. 47:31) Did he bow to his son [Joseph]? No, he bowed to the place where the Shechinah rested [because the Shechinah manifests above the head of the sick person at the head of the bed]. Here, too, "And He passed over before them," [What do the words “And He” add?] which means that the supernal Shechinah that manifested in front of Jacob went before him. This is the supernal guardian, who kept watch over him. When Jacob saw Her walking in front of him, he said, "Now is the time to bow before G‑d" who went before him.

Happy are the righteous, whose every deed is for the glory of their Master...

He knelt and bowed seven times, "until he came near to his brother." It is not written, 'He bowed himself before Esau', but when he saw G‑d walking in front of him, he bowed before Him. This indicated that he was not paying respect or worshiping someone else. All was done appropriately. Happy are the righteous, whose every deed is for the glory of their Master, so as not to deviate right or left. 1

BeRahamim LeHayyim:

What you see is not necessarily what you get. Appearances are deceiving. And we are all masters of judgment.

To judge our fellow on the side of merit is a Messianic consciousness. But why is it so hard to do?!

Perhaps it comes from our deep seated insecurity, deep within all of us, that we are inferior. That we are not good enough, pretty enough, wealthy enough, tan enough, smart enough, musical enough, etc.

If we are to love our fellow as ourselves, we probably should love ourselves first. Then we can move outside.

When one truly loves oneself properly, there is no need to "dis" the other, ever. And actions that appear to be problematic all are resolved in the other's benefit.

The Zohar here gives us the explanations for Jacob's apparently strange behavior. So too should we explain that which we see as troublesome in the favor of our fellow.


Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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