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Founded in 1984
יעקב became very frightened, and it distressed him. So he divided the people with him, and the flocks, cattle, and camels into two camps. (32, 8)
"ויצר לו stems from יצר, not from צרר or , צור the usual verbs for denoting trouble or distress. יצר means: to form. Every act of formation entails compression of material into a form dictated by an aim. These concepts are so interrelated that we also find צור in the sense of “forming”: . ויצר אתו בחרט Thus also the noun .צורה Perhaps there is a distinction between צור and יצר in their denotation of “distress”. צר is external limitation of one’s sphere, with the result that one cannot move freely. This limitation does not affect one’s inner life. The opposite of צר is .מרחב ,יצר however, is such a total narrowing of circumstances that one feels powerless to resist, like mere material in the hand of one who forms it.
That is how יעקב felt when he faced עשו, and that is a condition in which we, too, have found ourselves for centuries, facing the nations of .עשו It is the condition that, in the תוכחה, is called “חמת קרי”, “the fury of chance.” In this condition our welfare, our lives, and our happiness are not the guiding and determining factor; rather, they are dependent on the graces and aims of others, and we must suffice ourselves with the crumbs that
happen to fall from the tables of happiness of other nations.
Accordingly, ויצר לו means: יעקב felt that he was entirely at the mercy of עשו, who was coming toward him at the head of an armed force. Hence, he divided the people with him into two camps, so that at least a remnant would escape."
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