And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the field of Edom. And he commanded them, saying: 'Thus shall ye say unto my lord Esau: Thus saith thy servant Jacob: I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed until now. And I have oxen, and asses and flocks, and men-servants and maid-servants; and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favour in thy sight.'The Midrash (Bereshit Rabbah 75:3) describes Ya'akov's act as one who grabs the ears of a dog as it is written in the book of Proverbs (26:17):
He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife not his own, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.It is not a good idea to grab a dog by the ears. Dogs usually do not like people grabbing their ears, and they are quick to sink their teeth into the offending hand. Similarly, Ya'akov should not have aroused Esau, who at the time was busy with his own matters, with these greetings. As the adage says, "Let sleeping dogs lie!"
This verse about "grabbing the dog by the ears" came to mind recently as I read about the Weiss-Dodelson divorce case. I was disturbed to see people who were not directly involved in the case actively taking sides, ignoring King Solomon's wisdom:
He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife not his own, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.This case is a tragedy for those directly involved. There is no need to widen the tragedy by meddling in this strife, by grabbing the dog by the ears. It will most likely result in being bitten.
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