Parsha Vayishlach – 5777

Aliya-by-Aliya Parshat Vayishlach 5762

“Onkeles seems to consider the messengers that Yaakov sent to be human (IZGADIN are runners or messengers); Rashi states that the word MAL’ACHIM is to be taken literally, as heavenly angels. Commentaries point to the end of last week’s sedra (which tells of Yaakov’s encountering the “camps” of angels upon his return to Eretz Yisrael) as support for Rashi’s point of view. Bartenura further explains that Biblical references to angels always include something they said or a prophetic message.”

Torah Sparks: Vayishlah 5777

“Preparing to meet his brother Esau, from whose wrath he had fled decades earlier, Yakov moves his family and property across the Yabok River. “So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak” (Gen 32:25). “He was left alone,” Rashi explains: “he went back for some small jars [pachim katanim] he had forgotten.” The Talmud (Hulin 91a) which Rashi quotes adds that from this we learn that for tsadikim, righteous people like Yakov, their money is dearer than their bodies, as Yakov’s action had put his life in danger.”

A Biblical Text of Terror

“In the midst of this week’s parashah, most of which focuses on Jacob’s return to the land of Canaan with his wives, maidservants, and children, is a lengthy story about Jacob’s only daughter, Dina (Genesis 34). While Jacob briefly appears in this story, he plays a surprisingly insignificant role. Indeed, after Jacob hears that Dina has been raped by Shechem, a local Hivite prince, he neither tells anyone nor takes any action, choosing to wait until his sons, who are in the fields tending to the livestock, return home (Genesis 34:5).”

Reconciliation and Change

“In Parshat Vayishlah four significant events occur. Esau encounters Yaacov for the first time since they bitterly parted ways years earlier. The text indicates that for, at least Yaacov, there was much concern about this meeting. Yaacov wrestles with an angel in the middle of the night. As a result of this divine encounter his name was changed to Israel and he was wounded in the thigh. Seemingly unrelated to the flow of events, Israel’s daughter from Leah daughter, Dinah, has an experience with Shechem, the son of Hamor, the chief of that country. Her interaction with Hamor, usually described as a rape, agitates her brothers into committing a deviously violent revengeful response. Finally, the deaths of Rachel and Isaac are mentioned.”

Haftarah Parshat Vayishlah

“The animosity between the nations of Israel and Edom is foreshadowed by Rebecca’s pregnancy, where the twins which she carried in her womb, Jacob (Israel) and Esau (Edom), were seemingly in perpetually at odds with each other. This image followed the two nations throughout their history until the demise of the nation of Edom and its ultimate assimilation into the Jewish people. (Herod the Great was the most famous Edomite turned Jew.)”