Rabbi Yishaya Horowitz, the Shelah Hakadosh (1565-1630)

The Shelah Hakadosh says: Just as Yaakov used prayer, gifts and war, so do we approach Esav’s descendants in our times. Our power is only through our mouth, to pray to Hashem in difficult times. But war – to fight with the nations – does not apply to us. Our “war” with them means activism – that Jewish activists must boldly face kings and leaders and work for the good of the Jewish people. Even if the leaders throw them out angrily, they must keep coming back; this is our pillar of existence in exile, until moshiach comes. (Vayishlach, Amud Hagolah)

In another place (Torah Shebichsav, Parshas Shemos) the Shelah says that in the era of exile we must bear our fate, as the Midrash says on the words “I adjure you,” that we should not rebel; and on the contrary, we must accept it submissively and do as Yaakov Avinu did, presenting gifts.”

The Shelah also says (Torah Shebichsav, Vayakhel Pekudei) that even when it comes to mitzvah observance, where we must resist anti-Torah government decrees, we must take care to speak submissively: “All the seventy nations do not have the power to make one Shabbos-observer violate Shabbos. Still, in order not to start a fight with the nations, Hashem commanded us to hide this fact from them.”


Rabbinic Quotations

Yaakov and Esav