21. "And he commanded them, saying: 'Thus shall you speak to my lord Esau. Your servant Jacob says thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now'" (Beresheet 32:5). At once Jacob introduced himself as Esau's servant, so that Esau would not take heed of the blessings that his father bestowed on him. Jacob put them aside for the end of days.
22. Rabbi Yehuda asks, What did Jacob have in mind when he sent Esau a message reading, "I HAVE SOJOURNED WITH LABAN?" Did this message accomplish anything regarding his mission to Esau? HE ANSWERS, A rumor circulated that no one had ever escaped the clutches of Laban of Aram, as he was well versed in sorcery and wizardry. He was also the father of Beor, who in turn was the father of Bilaam. As it is written, "Bilaam the son of Beor the sorcerer" (Yehoshua 13:22). Yet although Laban was the greatest practitioner of sorcery and wizardry, he could not overcome Jacob, whom he attempted to annihilate in several ways, as it is written, "An Arammian wanted to destroy my father" (Devarim 26:5). AND SO HE SENT HIM THE MESSAGE, "I HAVE SOJOURNED WITH LABAN," TO MAKE HIM AWARE OF HIS POWER.
23. Rabbi Aba said, Everyone was aware that Laban was the best at sorcery and wizardry, and he could use sorcery to do away with anyone he wished. All that Bilaam knew came from Laban. Regarding Bilaam, it is written, "For I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed" (Bemidbar 22:6). Because everyone feared Laban and his sorcery, the first words that Jacob sent Esau were, "I have sojourned with Laban." In case Esau thought it was for a short period, perhaps a month or a year, Jacob advised, "and stayed there until now" - twenty years did I stay with him.
24. You may say that he gained nothing, BUT HE SAID TO HIM, "and I have oxen and donkeys" (Beresheet 32:6). These are sentences of judgment, THAT IS, DEMONS. When these two collaborate, they cooperate to harm the world, MEANING IT IS NOT THEIR NATURE TO INFLICT DAMAGE EXCEPT WHEN THEY ARE JOINED. For this reason, it is written, "You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together" (Devarim 22:10). FOR THIS CAUSES THESE TWO DEMONS, NAMELY THE OX AND THE DONKEY, TO BE JOINED, AND TO INFLICT DAMAGE ON THE WORLD.
25. THE VERSE, "flocks, and menservants, and women servants," refers to lower crowns OF THE KLIPOT, which the Holy One, blessed be He, slew in Egypt. They are called "the firstborn of cattle" (Shemot 12:29), "the firstborn of the captive" (Ibid.), and "the firstborn of the maidservant" (Shemot 11:5). Esau took fright and came toward him; he feared Jacob as much as Jacob feared him.
26. THIS IS LIKE THE STORY OF a man who was walking along the road when he heard a robber was lurking along the way. When another man approached him, he asks, Where are you from? The man replied that he was from an army brigade. He said, Stay away from me. I have a snake that will kill anyone who approaches me. That man returned to the chief of the brigade, and said, There is a man coming who has a snake that bites and kills anyone who approaches him.
27. The chief heard and was frightened. He said, It is best to go meet and appease him. When the traveler saw the chief, HE WAS AFRAID. He said, Woe is me. Now the chief will kill me. He began to bow and kneel before him. The chief then said, If he really had a snake that kills, he would not have bowed before me. Thus the chief regained his composure, and said, Since he bows so much before me, I shall spare him.
28. This is why Jacob said, "I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now." I lingered with him these twenty years, and I bring with me a snake, which kills people.' Esau heard this and said, 'Woe to me, who shall stand before him, for now Jacob shall kill me with his mouth.' HE THOUGHT THAT BECAUSE HE OVERPOWERED LABAN, BILAAM'S GRANDFATHER, HIS STRENGTH WAS SURELY AS GREAT AS THAT OF BILAAM, OF WHOM IT IS SAID, "FOR I KNOW THAT HE WHOM YOU BLESS IS BLESSED, AND HE WHOM YOU CURSE IS CURSED," AND HE CAN KILL WITH HIS MOUTH.' He then came out to meet him, to appease him.
29. Once he saw him, it is written, "Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed" (Beresheet 32:8). When he approached him, he began to bow and prostrate himself before him, as it is written, "and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother" (Beresheet 33:3). Esau said, 'If he had so much power, he would not have bowed before me.' He then began to become haughty again.
30. Come and behold, it is written of Bilaam, "And Elohim came to Bilaam at night" (Bemidbar 22:20). Of Laban, the verse says, "And Elohim came to Laban the Arammian in a dream by night, and said to him, Take heed that you speak not to Jacob..." (Beresheet 31:24). THIS SHOWS US THAT LABAN WAS AS GREAT AS BILAAM. HE ASKS, Why is it written, "that you speak not," rather than 'that you harm not?' HE ANSWERS, Laban did not chase Jacob with an army of men to wage war against him, for the power of Jacob and his sons is greater than that of Laban. But he chased him to kill him with his mouth and destroy everything, as it is written, "An Arammian wanted to destroy my father." This is why it says, "that you speak not," and not, 'that you harm not.' It is also written, "It is in the power of my hand to do." How did he know he had the power? From that which "Elohim of your father spoke to me last night ..."