Yaakov is returning from Galut where he spent twenty years with his uncle Lavan. As he comes close to Israel he prepares to meet his brother, not knowing what kind of a reception he will receive. Then the Torah tells us that Yaakov remained alone and during the night we are told VAYE’AVEK ISH IMO (Gen. 32:25). The word ISH means man. Chazal, however, find a deeper meaning in the word.
Chazal want to know what was the nature of this man. We find two opinions given by the Rabbis. One opinion is that this man was a Goy, a non-Jew. Another view was that this was a Talmid Chacham. These positions require some explanation. What was happening here? Yaakov was returning from the Galut. There where all kinds of obstacles cast in his way.
Opposition came to him from the non-Jew. He did not want Yaakov to return to the land of his fathers. This is no longer yours he claimed. You have left it and now Esav has taken hold of it. Others felt the opposition came from the Jews themselves. The intellectuals felt that this is not the time to come back to the land. Furthermore, there is no longer a need for a Jewish land. We can live peacefully in the Diaspora.
Yaakov struggled with these attempts to dissuade him from coming back to the land of his fathers. He did, however, succeed in overpowering this ISH and continued on his journey. Jews today in trying to rebuild Israel are faced with the same antagonisms from without and from within. Just as Yaakov finally was able to defeat this ISH, Israel and the Jews today will also succeed in overcoming all this hostility.