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Vayishlach in a Nutshell

Vayishlach in a Nutshell

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Jacob returns to the Holy Land after a 20-year stay in Charan, and sends angel-emissaries to Esau in hope of a reconciliation, but his messengers report that his brother is on the warpath with 400 armed men. Jacob prepares for war, prays, and sends Esau a large gift (consisting of hundreds of heads of livestock) to appease him.

That night, Jacob ferries his family and possessions across the Jabbok River; he, however, remains behind and encounters the angel that embodies the spirit of Esau, with whom he wrestles until daybreak. Jacob suffers a dislocated hip but vanquishes the supernal creature, who bestows on him the name Israel, which means “he who prevails over the divine.”

Jacob and Esau meet, embrace and kiss, but part ways. Jacob purchases a plot of land near Shechem, whose crown prince—also called Shechem—abducts and rapes Jacob’s daughter Dinah. Dinah’s brothers Simeon and Levi avenge the deed by killing all male inhabitants of the city, after rendering them vulnerable by convincing them to circumcise themselves.

Jacob journeys on. Rachel dies while giving birth to her second son, Benjamin, and is buried in a roadside grave near Bethlehem. Reuben loses the birthright because he interferes with his father’s marital life. Jacob arrives in Hebron, to his father Isaac, who later dies at age 180. (Rebecca has passed away before Jacob’s arrival.)

Our Parshah concludes with a detailed account of Esau’s wives, children and grandchildren; the family histories of the people of Seir, among whom Esau settled; and a list of the eight kings who ruled Edom, the land of Esau’s and Seir’s descendants.

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Discussion (18)
November 15, 2013
Imperfect Environments
Isn't the writing really about how to deal with injustice? Sometimes there are just rules that don't seem to make sense. Why would one child receive more than another (just because it is born 1st-Wouldn't you just give each the same?) Then it seems to deal with the problems of differing value systems and intelligence. I can see giving a child with a much higher intelligence property/wealth to manage for another of lesser (but still giving both equal amounts)

I have dealt with differing value systems all my life; and I have never attempted to fight them - even though the harm levels have been astronomical. I now believe you should never live among or beside differing ones (if there is another option) And you should sue harm, instead of physically fight - except in cases of self defense. Then you can do both.

Teaching self defense to temples is very important; & nothing that has happened in my life. Why not replace the harm w a person of the same name - but correct behavior w legal pymt
Joan Spehr Clark
Westerville
November 15, 2013
Eric's Responce frm Franklin Mii Dec2,2011
This makes so much for your enlightenment on the topic. Thank you Eric.
I would like to see more updated comments as it helps the Newly converted student understand better from the advanced learned an is appreciated thanks for sharing all of you as well as those who will share.
R.eda
Missouri
November 15, 2013
Shimeon, Levi
They were grown-up men, fully responsible when they did what were wrong in the eyes of their father. Jacob immediatley rebuked them (Genesis 34:30), but they not accepted his words (ibid. 31). Jacob so intesly refuse their extremity, that he actually cursed their anger before his death (49:5-7). All can be easily understood, if we concentrate his words. He said, they made him socially unacceptable before the people of the land. So he made such an unproportional anger and wrath socially unacceptable for Israel.
Peter Barta
Budapest
November 15, 2013
The power of the will; of self awareness; of a life of learning
Yaakov was born as Yaakov (as deceiver) but struggled throughout his to become Yisrael. And so the struggle to become Yisrael continues with each of us!
Lee Diamond
Israel
November 12, 2013
Yakovs name
The name Yackov doesnt mean deciever. It means smart or intelligent. As onklos translates esauv's complaint, "he 'yakcveini' these two times" as "he 'chachmeini/outsmarted me these two times"
In other books as well the name Yackov is described as being interchangeable with the word chachmah/wisdom.
Rabbi Shaffier
Kearney, NE
December 2, 2012
Punishment for Simeon and levi
In the final Parsha of the Book of Genesis, Jacob punishes Simeon and Levi by not blessing them as he does the other brothers, and instead tells them (Genesis 48:5-7), "Simeon and Levi are brothers; stolen instruments are their weapons. Let my soul not enter their counsel; my honor, you shall not join their assembly, for in their wrath they killed a man, and with their will they hamstrung a bull. Cursed be their wrath for it is mighty, and their anger because it is harsh. I will separate them throughout Jacob, and I will scatter them throughout Israel."
Baruch Davidson
New York
December 1, 2012
So I have a question. is there a later punishment of Simeon and Levi for the murder of all males in retaliation for the rape of Dinah? If so is this discussed in a later parshah? Thank you.
Adam Swartz
Santa Monica, CA
November 30, 2012
Jacob not a deceiver
I find it frustrating that people buy into the libel that Jacob was a deceiver. The Torah clearly says 'and his hand had hold on Esau's heel. And his name was called Jacob.' In other words, his name is 'heel-grabber' as the etymology suggests. It is wrong to repeat Esau's libel, who made a play on Jacob's name, saying 'Is not he rightly name Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times.' Esau follows up this calumny with a bold-faced lie: 'He took away my birthright.' The Torah has its own verdict on this too, saying 'Esau despised his birthright.'
Daniel Nessim
London
November 30, 2012
vayishlach
True Yaackov's name does mean deceiver, but just who is he supposed to deceive? I think he was deceiving himself, for he had to know just who he was in relation with Hashem (G-d). Not only did he remain behind for a peace of pottery but He fought and defeated the spirit of Eisav which could also be that which was also inside of him hence the name Israel. From this we learn that we all have that same battle to fight and win every day. I Believe that only when we stop battling each other and concentrate on the evil within ourselves will Moshiach come.
Monty Souther
OREGON
November 30, 2012
cultural obscurities
The comments on Levi and Shimon are good; they bring out the question, why they could do as they did, even before the giving of the Torah.
I do not have an answer; I was not present. However, as I see from what I learned in my studies of cultural rules and behavior, I noticed that if it is difficult to deal with an idea or behavior in a certain way, people grow up unable to understand how or why others can.
This is one example; the Jewish/Christian difference on the Unity of G-d. You can read what you want to your friend, of the other culture, and you may get a blank stair back for your efforts. Why? Because even though you both speak the same language, the words you use for your acceptance of certain ideas are, psychologically, different.
This is why it is important to not judge another culture, as there are things we may not understand, cannot have the full understanding of the "why?"
Thank you. Shalom.
Yechiel
Tennessee
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