Weekly Reading Insights: VaYishlach 5765


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Vayishlach

To be read on 14 Kislev 5765 (Nov. 27)

Torah: Gen. 32:4-36:43; Haftorah: Book of Obadia (who was an Edomite convert!)

Vayetze is the 8th Reading out of 12 in Genesis and 8th overall, and 11th out of 54 in overall length.

Yaacov sent messengers to Eisav, informing him of his return. Eisav came to meet Yaacov, along with 400 men. Yaacov divided his people into two camps, so that should Eisav attack, at least one camp would survive. Yaacov sent gifts for Eisav. He then sent his wives, children and possessions across the Jabbok River. During the night Yaacov wrestled with an angel, who could not defeat him, so he touched Yaacov on the thigh, dislocating his hip. At dawn, the angel blessed Yaacov, and changed his name to Yisrael. Yaacov met with Eisav in reconciliation. Eisav went to Seir. Yaacov separated from him and went to Shechem, where he purchased Kever Yosef.

Yaacov's daughter, Dina, was forcefully taken by Shechem, who wanted to marry her. Yaacov, and Dina's brothers said they would permit the union only if Shechem, along with every other male, would circumcise himself. On the third day after their circumcision, when they were all suffering, Shimon and Levi killed all the men and returned with Dina. They left for Beth El, where Yaacov set up an altar to G-d. Rachel died in childbirth on the road. Yitzchak died at the age of 180. The parsha ends with the chronicles the family of Eisav, and the kings of Edom.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:08-65/Vayishlach)

These two inclinations are actually angels - pure spiritual forces - and they are charged with protecting the person from anything that could harm him. They never leave a person. If he decides to purify himself and return to his spiritual roots, then the Yetzer Hara submits to the Yetzer Tov, and the inclination to do good rules over the inclination to do bad.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:08-65/Vayishlach)

Now that we have demonstrated that these kings allude only to Zeir Anpin and Nukva and [that as they exist] in Arich Anpin they are hidden, all the discrepancies mentioned above in the Torah and the Book of Chronicles will be clear.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:07-65/Vayetsei)

The Patriarchs and Matriarchs were on a spiritual level approaching that which in the future will exist amongst ordinary people. This enabled them to express themselves in a totally unrestrained manner.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people...into two camps." (32:8)
The great Chasidic masters interpreted this verse as follows: Why was Jacob "afraid and distressed"? Because the Children of Israel were "divided." Jacob knew that when the Jewish people stand united, Esau is powerless against them. It is only when Jews are splintered into different camps that there is something to worry about...
(Maayanot Netzach)

"My lord knows that the children are tender." (33:13)
Why did Jacob make a point of mentioning the children in response to Esau's invitation to join him? Because being in Esau's proximity was much more of a threat to his impressionable children than it was to himself. Unpleasant as it might have been for him, maintaining his children's spiritual purity was his number one priority.
(Rabbi Yehoshua Rokeach of Belz)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

MOSHIACH THIS WEEK (M:08-65/Vayishlach)

"Yaakov sent messengers to Esav (Esau) his brother." (Gen. 32:4)
At that time, Yaakov was fully ready for the ultimate Messianic Redemption. He had learned a great deal of Torah, served G-d with all his heart, and had observed the 613 mitzvot despite the many obstacles encountered in Lavan's house.
So Yaakov sent messengers to check out the spiritual status of his brother Esav, to see if he was also ready for Moshiach. Unfortunately, they found that he was still wicked and had not repented of his evil ways. The Redemption was therefore delayed for thousands of years until our generation, when the nations of the world are now finally ready.
(The Rebbe, Parshat Vayishlach, 5752)

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:08-65/Vayishlach)

"And Jacob sent angels to his brother Esau." (Gen. 29:12)
Rashi comments that they were not just messengers, but really heavenly angels! The Maggid of Mezrich says that Jacob sent the physical aspect of the angels to Esau but kept their spiritual potency with him. Influencing and transforming Esau is spiritual work, why only send the physical? What point is the Maggid trying to make and how does it relate to us?

Only when the spiritual part of the angel stayed with Jacob, feeling that that was its true place, could the physical part be effective at transforming Esau. This is to teach us that when we go out to challenge the world and make it a more spiritual place, our spiritual entity, our soul, must stay connected to Him who has sent us out, the Holy One Blessed Be He.

"Please save me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau." (Gen. 29:12)
The Zohar says this teaches us that appropriate prayer is to choose our words very carefully; make every word count. But Jacob had only one brother, therefore there are extra words here. Rabbi Moshe Alshich of Safed writes that the words "from the hands of my brother" are an honest admission of Jacob's guilt. He did commit a sin to Esau in relation to Isaac's blessings. Nevertheless, Jacob is saying, "Please help me!" The Ohr Hachaim takes it a step further, saying that Jacob was pointing out Esau's fault: "Esau wants to kill me! Save me from my brother's hands."

"And he passed before them, and he bowed seven times until he reached his brother." (Gen. 33:3)
What made Esau give in? Why did Jacob bow seven times? The Zohar says that the first "and he" was the Shechina, and Esau became afraid, like Laban in last week's Torah portion. The Baal Haturim quotes the verse, "Seven times the tzaddik will fall and then rise" (Proverbs 24:16). It was all in order to remove seven levels of impurity from his own heart, to make himself purer and more righteous in G-d's eyes.

Rebbe Michal of Zlotchov explains, citing a story about Rav Acha Ben Yaakov (Kiddushin 29b):
He was once in a study hall, where an evil being that looked like a snake with seven heads appeared. Rav Acha bowed seven times, and each time one of the heads of the snake fell off. The seven bows negated the seven impure strengths of the snake. With Jacob our forefather, each obeisance was to draw down extra energy and strengthen one of his seven pure strengths. So why was Esau not vanquished completely?

The answer is that because he was Jacob's twin brother, Esau's birth was also holy, and only his negative behavior had drawn him towards evil and entrapped him. Jacob's seven bows weakened Esau's seven negative strengths, leaving the Esau as he had been when he was born, Jacob's brother. Jacob bowed seven times until he reached his brother, disgarding all of the impurity, leaving only his brother. This is what the verse says, "And he ran to him and hugged him". (Gen.33:3) Nevertheless, it only lasted for a short time, as the verse continues, "That very day, Esau went on his way, to Seir." (Ibid.)

There are a few interesting teachings in this. Our battle with our opponents does not always have to be a direct confrontation. Sometimes by strengthening our good qualities and increasing our positive actions, we weaken the negative forces around us. Even more important is our reinterpretation of Jacob's attitude. His bowing was not a surrender by any means, but rather a distinct and successful part of his battle plan.

Certainly part of his success was based on the wisdom of the famous Yiddish saying, translated: Think good and it'll be good; the Lubavitcher Rebbe says that this applies to all of life's challenges, but especially to illness. Be confident that the results will be good, not only in thought, but in speech and action too, and they will be.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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