by Rabbi Yisrael Kaniel – December 6, 2011

In the Torah section of VaYishlach, after Jacob’s struggle with an unexpected foe, we read (Bereshit 32:33), “Therefore, the children of Israel are not to eat the displaced sinew on the hip-socket to this day, because he struck Jacob’s hip-socket on the displaced sinew.”

In commenting on the aforementioned verse, the latter day Torah giant R. Avraham Yaakov Pam notes (Sholom Smith, A Vort from Rav Pam, pp. 63-64) that the Sefer HaChinuch mentions that “At the root of this commandment is the guarantee that even though the Jewish people will endure much persecution and suffering in exile at the hands of the nations … they can rest assured that they will not perish. Their progeny and name will endure forever, and the messiah will come and redeem them from the hands of their oppressors, just as G-d did to Jacob.”

R. Pam goes on to note how encouraging these words written centuries ago are to the post-Holocaust generation whose parents and grandparents endured unspeakable persecution and suffering just a few decades ago. Matters looked bleak for the survivors of this persecution who remembered the cries of those who went to the Nazi gas chambers singing, “Mir vellen zei ibberleben!” (“We will outlive them [the Nazis]”) and wondered if this would actually happen.

Despite the bleak outlook, R. Pam points out, G-d in His mercy has rebuilt the Jewish world, and the attempt at a “Final Solution” failed once again as per the lesson of the displaced sinew. This verse and its concomitant commandment teaches the Jewish people that despite the many attempts over the ages and continuing threats to destroy us, we will overcome, a guarantee signed by none other than G-d Himself in His Holy document, the Holy Torah.