Chullin 91 and the Wrestling Jacob

In chullin 91, we are learing about the “Gid Hanesha” or sciatic nerve in the rear of the animal which cannot be  eaten.  The prohibition stems from the story in parsha  Vayishlach.   The story is Jacob finds himself alone and encounters an angel who he wrestles with until dawn.

The SD always felt (and I am sure other qualified bible scholars and commenataors says the same thing) that this is some internal crisis of Jacob.  It is some psyschological conflict which manifests after 20 years of Lavan and the imminient confrontation with his brother. To the SD, the angel is some part of jacob’s psche or ego or self that he is wrestling with on some level.

The self wrestling idea has some basis in this daf.  We are told that according to one opinion when Jacob sees the angel he appears to him as idol worshipper.  Another opinion disagrees and says that the angel appeared to him as a Torah scholar.  What a classic internal crisis of identity!  What are we? Are you  bad (idol worshippers) are we good (Torah scholars)  Who are we?

The SD would like to give a modest answer.  We all wrestle this .   We want to be good. We want our “better angels” to win out.  The simple fact is that all of us are  a little of both. We all wrestle with this. We have our good moments and our bad.  We have our evil inclinations and our great moments of charity, piety and faith.

It is a good crisis.  Keep wrestling with yourself.

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