"And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother…." (Gen. 32:4)

It is known that Jacob stems from the composed world of Tikun, while Esau stems from the chaotic and intense world of Tohu (Arizal).

The lights of Tohu transcend those of Tikun. Their intensity causes their vessels to shatter, hence the fallen sparks of Tohu, which manifest in such lowly phenomena as the personality of the wicked Esau. In his source, Esau transcends Jacob. He is the first-born. Hence, "Jacob sent messengers before him"; literally to a place that was "before" and beyond Jacob, the world of Tohu. Jacob thought…to draw upon himself the lofty lights of Tohu and assimilate them…

Jacob thought that the earthly Esau had already been realigned with his source; that the intense energy of Tohu had been redirected from a passion for self-indulgence toward a passion for the Divine. He therefore sent messengers to Esau, to draw upon himself the lofty lights of Tohu and assimilate them into the composed world of Tikun.

The message Jacob sent with his messengers (who were actual angels) was that through his years of working with Laban, he had fully developed his world, the world of Tikun.

He had been merely a "sojouner" with Laban, a "stranger", aloof and estranged from the trap of an earthly consciousness, and was therefore able to perform the 613 mitzvot. He thereby elevated the resources of Laban and made them "dwellings" for the light of holiness.

At this point, he considered himself a suitable vessel for the light of Tohu. This is as the Zohar declares, "Blessing does not dwell in an empty place…."(Zohar II:155a) Now that Jacob's place was fully cultivated, the blessing of Tohu could dwell in him. He was ready for a monumental, cosmic event: the unification of Tohu and Tikun.

He was ready for the Messianic era, when the world would reach its perfection and ultimate purpose. Hence the Midrash's (Bereishit Rabba 75:6) enigmatic comment on Jacob's words, "and I gained ox and donkey": "The donkey refers to King Mashiach, as it is written, 'a poor man riding on a donkey' (Zachariah 9:9)." Jacob was living in a messianic reality.

[The Messianic redemption hinges upon the refinement and elevation of the entire world, the seventy nations. This is achieved by the exile of the Jewish people throughout the world. The forerunner of all exiles took place in Egypt, as explained by Arizal in his Likutei Torah (parashat KiTeitzei).) Although all of this had yet to have happened, Jacob still thought the Messianic era was at hand. He thought that the elevation of the nations could be achieved through the elevation of their "fathers", Ishmael and Esau.

(At times the nations are numbered at seventy and at times they are numbered at seventy-two. The seventy-two count includes the fathers of the nations. See Sefer Haarachim Chabad, entry Umot Haolam p. 326-7.) Jacob had already elevated the realm of Laban, who represents corrupt kindness and is therefore equal to Ishmael, who is corrupt kindness as well. He thought that Esau, corrupt gevura, had already been elevated and therefore expected the redemption (Vayishlach 5747).]

"And the messengers returned to Jacob saying, 'We came to your brother Esau and behold he is coming towards you, four hundred men in his company'." (Gen. 32:7)

The messengers were saying to their master: Yes, from your part the unification of Tohu and Tikun can be achieved. But alas, your brother Esau remains undeveloped. How, then, can he share with you the light of his source, while he remains trapped in its earthly manifestation? The root of these 400 men was the 400 silver shekels that Abraham had paid…for the Cave of Machpela

To support their assertion, the messengers referred to the 400 men in Esau's company. The root of these 400 men was the 400 silver shekels that Abraham had paid to Efron for the Cave of Machpela. While in the hands of Abraham, these coins reflected the "400 worlds of longing" that the righteous are destined to inherit. Their transfer to the hands of Efron was an investment of holiness into the mundane for the purpose of retrieving them in the Messianic era when "death will be swallowed forever" and G‑d "will remove the spirit of impurity from the earth". Until their retrieval, the coins reflect the "400 courts of harsh judgment". (See Zohar I:123b, III:128b and 288a.)

Jacob was aware of the fact that Esau was accompanied by 400 men. But he assumed they were the personifications of the 400 worlds of longing; he was informed by his messengers that they were in fact the embodiment of the 400 courts of harsh judgment (Vayishlach 5743).

"And he split his camp into two…." (Gen. 32:8)

When Jacob realized that he would not be receiving the light of Tohu through Esau, he took measures to elicit the light of Tohu on his own. (In this way he would also be protected from the dangers of the physical Esau.)

These methods would have to mirror the world of Tohu. His first measure therefore was to split his camp into two, the number associated with Tohu. Tikun, by contrast, is characterized by the number three.

The sefirot of Tohu exist in two separate realms: the right and the left. Each sefira exists independent of the other, whereas in Tikun each sefira is a conglomerate of all the others. This conglomeration is not possible in Tohu, since the vessels of Tohu are too small to contain opposites. Kindness, in Tohu, is pure and unrestrained kindness. The same for severity, and so on - like a narrow mind that cannot accommodate two opposing concepts. If it is inclined toward merit, it will be unable to see judgment. If it is inclined to judge, it will see no room for merit. It can find merit or judgment, right or left, but never both at once. This is the world of Tohu, the world of two.

In Tikun, however, the right and the left are harmonized into a third realm. Even in judgment there can be a thought toward merit. In Tikun the light is less intense and the vessels more expansive. The expanded vessel allows for the coexistence of opposing views - like an expanded mind that can accommodate opposites. This is the world of Tikun, the world of three.

In order to elicit the infinite light of Tohu, Jacob split his camp in two, mirroring the two-dimensional world of Tohu.

(The world of Tikun is conceived of as three realms: right and left, and the center realm, which combines the other two. Hence the Jewish people, who stem from the world of Tikun, say, "Holy, holy, holy!"- three times in our daily prayers. Similarly, G‑d says of them that they are a nation of "segula" (literally translated as "special") which alludes to the Hebrew vowel segol, which is represented by three dots forming an upside-down triangle.)


Adapted by Yosef Marcus from Torah Ohr, Vayishlach, 5752 p. 163

Copyright 2003 by KabbalaOnline.org. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.