"וישלח יעקב מלאכים"
“And Yaakov sent messengers.” (32:4)

QUESTION: Rashi comments: “Malachim mamash — “Actual angels.”

What right did Yaakov have to use Hashem’s angels as his messengers?

ANSWER: In the final pesukim of the previous parshah, we learn of Yaakov meeting a contingency of angels: “And he (Yaakov) called the name of that place ‘Machanaim’ ” (32:3). From the fact that the Torah speaks of the angels in plural (“Machanaim” being interpreted as “two camps”), it is deduced that there were two sets of angels. One group consisted of heavenly angels which Hashem created, and the other group consisted of angels who were created through the mitzvot and good deeds which Yaakov performed (see Avot 4:11).

Indeed, Yaakov had no right to use Hashem’s angels, but he did have permission to use for his benefit the angels who were created through him. When Yaakov had to prepare for an encounter with Eisav, he sent his angels. Rashi alludes to this by explaining that the angels he sent were ממש"," an acronym for "ממעשים שלו" — “from his deeds.”

(ר' מאיר מפרימישלאן זצ"ל)

"כה תאמרון לאדני לעשו כה אמר עבדך יעקב עם לבן גרתי"
“Thus shall you say to my lord, to Eisav: ‘Thus said your servant Yaakov: I have sojourned with Lavan.’” (32:5)

QUESTION: Yaakov sent a message to Eisav that even though he dwelled with the wicked Lavan, he observed the 613 mitzvot (Rashi).

Why did Yaakov think that his observance of Torah and mitzvot would make an impression on Eisav?

ANSWER: Usually, when two sides are trying to reach an agreement it is necessary for each one to yield a little. Yaakov’s message to Eisav was, “I am eager to negotiate with you and to make peace. If necessary, I will make concessions and grant some of your wishes. However, I want you to know that I lived with Lavan and frequently had to negotiate with him. I was always patient and let him have his way. One hundred times he changed his agreement with me regarding my salary (31:41), and I always gave in and never argued. But there was one place where I did not give up one inch: my observance of Torah and mitzvot.

“I am therefore informing you that I am easy to deal with, but if you are expecting me to compromise on Torah and mitzvot, then there can be no discussion between us.”

"כה תאמרון לאדני לעשו כה אמר עבדך יעקב עם לבן גרתי"
“Thus shall you say to my lord, to Eisav: ‘Thus said your servant Yaakov: I have sojourned with Lavan.’” (32:5)

QUESTION: Rashi comments: “The letters of ‘garti’ (גרתי) correspond numerically to 613, that is, ‘with Lavan the wicked I sojourned (גרתי), but the 613 (תרי"ג) Commandments I observed, and I did not learn from his evil deeds.’ ”

Rashi’s words, “I did not learn from his evil deeds,” are seemingly redundant. If he observed 613 mitzvot, is it not obvious that Lavan had no influence over him?

ANSWER: Yaakov was not expressing satisfaction for not learning from Lavan’s evil deeds. On the contrary, he was expressing his dissatisfaction and frustration.

Yaakov sent a message to Eisav: “I lived in the home of Lavan for twenty years, during which I observed how enthusiastically he performed his sins. Though I fulfilled 613 mitzvot, I did not apply his level of excitement to my Torah and mitzvot.” Yaakov humbly said: “If only I would have performed mitzvot with the excitement and vigor with which he performed his sins!”

* * *

The Chiddushei HaRim (first Rebbe of Ger) once said concerning missionaries: “If we were to work for the emet (spreading Torah and Yiddishkeit) with an emet (sincerity), like they work for the sheker (falsehood) with an emet, we would experience immense success.”

(הרב מאיר ז"ל שאפירא מלובלין)

"עם לבן גרתי ואחר עד עתה: ויהי לי שור וחמור צאן ועבד ושפחה ואשלחה להגיד לאדני למצא חן בעיניך"

“I have sojourned with Lavan, and lingered until now. And I have oxen, and donkeys and flocks, and men-servants and maidservants; and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.” (32:5-6)

QUESTION: Why was it necessary for Yaakov to tell Eisav “va’eichar ad atah” — “And I lingered until now”?

ANSWER: Many years had lapsed since Yaakov and Eisav had last met, and now Yaakov endeavored to find favor in his eyes. Yaakov thought that Eisav could question the messengers: “If Yaakov is such a good friend of mine, why has he not bothered to contact me all these years?”

He therefore instructed them to tell Eisav that the reason why “va’eichar ad atah” — “ ‘I lingered until now’ — and did not come to meet you earlier — was because I was a poor shepherd, working with the herds of our uncle Lavan. I was sure you would be disappointed and hurt to hear of the poverty I was experiencing. However, now that ‘I have oxen, and donkeys,’ I am contacting you and informing you of the good news, because I am sure you will be pleased by my success, and that ‘I may find favor in your eyes.’ ”

(כלי חמדה)

"באנו אל אחיך אל עשו וגם הלך לקראתך וארבע מאות איש עמו"
“We came to your brother, to Eisav, and moreover, he is heading toward you with an army of 400 men.” (32:7)

QUESTION: Why did Eisav take so many people with him?

ANSWER: Eisav always tried to seem very scrupulous in the mitzvah of honoring one’s father. He knew very well that Yitzchak would be greatly disappointed with him and very angry if he would kill Yaakov.

Therefore, he took a large crowd of people so that he could have an excuse for Yitzchak. He would tell him that it was not he who killed Yaakov: “My friends were very upset because of what Yaakov did to me; as soon as they saw him, they went out of control, and I was unable to stop them from killing him.”

(ר' יהונתן ז"ל אייבשיץ)

"ויירא יעקב מאד ויצר לו"
“Yaakov was greatly afraid and worried.” (32:8)

QUESTION: Rashi explains that he was afraid of getting killed and worried "אם יהרג הוא את אחרים" — “That he might kill others.” Who are the “acheirim” — “others” — Yaakov was afraid he would kill?

ANSWER: When the Romans wanted to destroy the Beit Hamikdash, they sent armies headed by Niron Kaisar, who was a descendant of Eisav. During the war he had a change of mind and converted to Judaism. The famous Talmudic sage Rabbi Meir was one of his descendants (Gittin 56a).

Due to an incident between him and Rabban Gamliel, Rabbi Meir was not referred to by name, but was known as “acheirim” — “others” (Horiyot 13b). Yaakov was worried that if he killed Eisav, then his descendant “acheirim” — Rabbi Meir — would be prevented from coming to this world.

(פרדס יוסף)

"ויאמר אם יבוא עשו אל המחנה האחת והכהו והיה המחנה הנשאר לפליטה"
“And he said, ‘If Eisav comes to the first camp and destroys it, then the other camp which is left shall escape.’” (32:9)

QUESTION: How was Yaakov sure that the other camp would survive?

ANSWER: Eisav planned to kill Yaakov for taking away the berachot. Rivkah was very worried and instructed Yaakov to run away, saying, “Why should I lose the two of you on one day?” (27:45) From the way she expressed herself, Yaakov deduced that he and Eisav would probably perish on the very same day. Thus, he divided his people into two camps and distanced them a day apart. His reasoning was that if Eisav would destroy the first camp with Yaakov in their midst, he would also perish on that day. Thus, the second camp would survive.

(נחל קדומים)

"הצילני נא מיד אחי מיד עשו"
“Rescue me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Eisav.” (32:12)

QUESTION: Yaakov’s only brother was Eisav; why did he specify “The hand of my brother, the hand of Eisav”?

ANSWER: Yaakov had two fears; physical and spiritual. Firstly, if Eisav and his army attacked him, he might be overpowered and killed. Secondly, if he became friendly with him, Eisav would be a bad influence on Yaakov’s family.

Therefore, he prayed, “Rescue me from the hand of my brother,” that he should not harm them spiritually, through becoming a “brother” and good friend of the family. Also, he prayed that the vicious “hand” of Eisav should not attack and, G‑d forbid, physically harm the family.

* * *

The Gemara (Berachot 30b) says that when one is in the midst of prayer, even if the king greets him and inquires about his wellbeing or even if a snake is wound round his heel, he should not interrupt his prayers.

In view of the abovementioned, this halachah can be explained metaphorically.

Throughout the long galut (exile), the Jewish people are confronted with basically two types of experiences: Sometimes we experience a seemingly benevolent government which expresses interest in our welfare and grants us equal rights. In other instances, governments encircle the Jewish people like a snake. We are oppressed, herded into ghettos, and suffer from the many restrictions placed upon us.

Our wise sages are teaching us that, regardless how the situation appears, we should not disrupt our prayers. At all times we must continue to pray to Hashem that He liberate us from galut immediately.

(מצאתי בכתבי אבי הרב שמואל פסח ז"ל באגאמילסקי)

"כי ירא אנכי אתו פן יבוא והכני אם על בנים"
“For I fear him lest he come and strike me down, mother and children.” (32:12)

QUESTION: The word “oto” — “him” — seems extra?

ANSWER: Originally Yitzchak wanted to give the berachot to Eisav. In order to obtain the berachot, Yaakov disguised himself as Eisav. He did this so well that Yitzchak was convinced that Yaakov was really “him” (Eisav) and gave the berachot. Thereafter, Eisav bore a grudge against Yaakov and looked for an opportunity to kill him.

Now the time had arrived for Yaakov to meet Eisav face to face. He prayed to Hashem saying, “Please save me, I am afraid...he may take revenge for ‘oto,’ (him). Because I obtained the berachot by pretending to be ‘him.’ ”

(ר' ברוך ממיזובוז זצ"ל)

"פן יבוא והכני אם על בנים"
“Lest he come and strike me down, mother and children.” (32:12)

QUESTION: Having four wives, Yaakov should have expressed his concern in the plural: imahot — “mothers?”

ANSWER: Many people predicted that since Lavan had two daughters, Leah and Rachel, and his sister Rivkah had two sons, Eisav and Yaakov, the older son Eisav would marry the older daughter Leah, and the younger — Yaakov — would marry Rachel. For many years Leah cried her eyes out that this should not happen and Hashem accepted her plea (see Rashi 29:17).

Yaakov was afraid that Eisav might carry a special grudge against Leah for not wanting to marry him. Therefore, he worried that Eisav might come and smite “the mother” — Leah.

(באר מים חיים)

"ויקח מן הבא בידו...מנחה לעשו אחיו"
“And he took from what came to his hand...a present for Eisav his brother.” (32:14)

QUESTION: The words “min haba beyado” — “from what came to his hand” — seem extra?

ANSWER: The prophet Eliyahu confronted the false prophets who worshipped idols. To prove their falsehood, he challenged them to offer an ox as a sacrifice to their idol, and he would bring an ox as a sacrifice to Hashem. The true G‑d would send down a fire to the altar which would consume the sacrifice.

An ox selected for the false prophets ran away and refused to be used for this purpose. Eliyahu ran after him, and when he caught up with him, the ox complained, “Why should I be used as a sacrifice for idol worship while the other ox is for Hashem?” Eliyahu comforted him by telling him, “Through the both of you, Hashem’s name will be sanctified.” He then took the ox in his hand and handed him over to the false prophets (see Rashi to 1 Kings, 18:26).

A similar occurrence took place now. When Yaakov began preparing the many animals for the gift to Eisav, they all objected and refused to go. Yaakov had to take them with his hand and persuade them to go.

He promised them participation in a kiddush Hashem, for when Mashiach comes, Eisav will return to him the entire gift (see Bereishit Rabbah 78:12).

* * *

When Eisav met Yaakov he refused the gift saying, “achi yehi lecha asher lach” — “My brother, let yours be yours” (33:9). Why was the wicked Eisav suddenly so generous?

Eisav knew that this gift was something which would be his only temporarily and that it would have to be returned when Mashiach comes. Therefore, he said to Yaakov, “Since, in reality, this is destined to be yours, keep it and don’t cause me the hardship of having to care for it and pay it back at a later date.”

(בית יעקב ר' יעקב הכהן ז"ל טראב – מסלתון ראב"ד ביירות)

"ואת אחד עשר ילדיו"
“And his eleven children.” (32:23)

QUESTION: Rashi asks, “Where was Dinah?” and gives the answer that she was hidden in a box and, therefore, was not counted. How does Rashi know that the reference to eleven children does not include the daughter Dinah? Perhaps it does not include one of the sons?

ANSWER: One of the reasons why the Beit Hamikdash was built in Jerusalem on the land of Binyamin is that he was not born when Yaakov met Eisav and, thus, did not bow down to Eisav (Yalkut Mei’am Loez, Devarim 33:12).

When Yaakov met Eisav, he had eleven sons and one daughter. If we should say that the eleven children included Dinah and one of the sons was hidden in the box, then that child would deserve that the Beit Hamikdash be built on his land more than Binyamin; because he was already born and did not bow down to Eisav, while Binyamin was not even born at the time. Therefore, Rashi knew that the missing child had to be Dinah, who did not get a share of Eretz Yisrael.

(קול אליהו)

"ויותר יעקב לבדו"
“And Yaakov was left alone.” (32:25)

QUESTION: Rashi says that Yaakov forgot “pachim ketanim” — “small jars” — and he returned to pick them up. Which small jars did Yaakov forget?

ANSWER: In Eretz Yisrael, if a Jew should notice spots on the walls of his house,(נגעי בתים) he is to contact a Kohen, who comes and examines the house to see if the house is defiled. He first instructs the person to remove all items from the house and only afterwards, when the house is emptied of all its contents, does he declare the house defiled. The reason is that the Torah does not want the contents of the house to become defiled and unfit for use.

From this halachah, the Zohar learns a very interesting lesson: If Hashem was concerned that even small jars should not become defiled and unfit for use, how much more so should a talmid chacham have concern for himself and not endanger himself by walking alone. He should always have two people accompanying him.

When Rashi taught his students the story of Yaakov remaining alone and being attacked by the angel of Eisav, a question was raised: Why was Yaakov alone? Rashi told his students that obviously Yaakov momentarily forgot the lesson of the Zohar which a talmid chacham has to derive from Hashem’s concern even over small jars. Consequently, he went out alone and was in great danger.

(פרדס יוסף בשם תפארת צבי)

"ויותר יעקב לבדו ויאבק איש עמו עד עלות השחר: וירא כי לא יכל לו ויגע בכף ירכו"
“And Yaakov was left alone; and a man wrestled with him, until the break of the dawn. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh.” (32:25-26)

QUESTION: Why did the angel wrestle with Yaakov and not with Avraham or Yitzchak?

ANSWER: The world stands upon three pillars: Torah study, service of Hashem (prayer), and acts of kindness. Each of the three patriarchs was the prototype of one of these pillars. Avraham excelled in chesed — kindness. Yitzchak was associated with prayer, as the pasuk states: “Vayeitzei Yitzchak lasuach basadeh” — “And Yitzchak went out to meditate in the field” (24:63). Yaakov was “ish tam yosheiv ohalim” — “a sincere man, dwelling in tents” (25:27). He spent his time in the “tents” of Torah.

The “man” who wrestled with Yaakov was the angel of Eisav. He was the adversary of the Jewish people, and striving to bring about, G‑d forbid, their destruction. Of the three patriarchs he had little fear of Avraham because the continuity of the Jewish people (Yiddishkeit) cannot be contingent on acts of kindness such as building hospitals for the sick and homes for the aged. Nor can the posterity of the Jewish people (Yiddishkeit) be assured through people reciting their prayers on a daily basis. The secret of our existence is the study of Torah and teaching it to our children as soon as they are of age to understand it. Thus, by obstructing the study of Torah, the representative of Eisav hoped to jeopardize the continuity of the Jewish people.

This battle is a never ending one, and even when unable to topple Yaakov himself, Eisav tries to “wrestle” with kaf yereicho” — “the hollow of his thigh” — which represents the children and future generations of Yaakov. [When the Torah enumerates the family of Yaakov, it calls them “yotzei yereicho” — “[who] came out of his thighs” (46:26).]

(ר' אלחנן וואסערמאן הי"ד)

"ויזרח לו השמש"
“And the sun rose up for him.” (32:32)

QUESTION: Hashem made the sun rise earlier in order to heal Yaakov’s injury (Rashi). Why was this necessary?

ANSWER: Everyday, before the sun or the moon begin to serve the world, they immerse in the fiery river of Dinur (Yalkut Shimoni Isaiah 66). The Shelah explains that it is because the non-Jewish world worships the sun and the moon, and through this immersion they are cleansed from any effect of the idol worship.

The sun is known to possess healing powers. However, Yaakov would have refused to benefit from it because it is worshipped as an idol, and according to halachah, it is forbidden to derive any pleasure from something used for idol worship. (Yoreh Dei’ah 142, 155).

Therefore, for the sake of Yaakov’s healing, Hashem made the sun rise earlier. While the non-Jewish world was still asleep and had not yet worshiped the sun that day, Yaakov benefited from the sun’s healing powers.

(פרדס יוסף-כרם חמד)

"וירץ עשו לקראתו ויחבקהו"
“Eisav ran to meet Yaakov and embraced him.” (33:4)

QUESTION: Rashi says that there is a halachah that Eisav hates Yaakov. What does Eisav’s hatred of Yaakov have to do with halachah?

ANSWER: From the fact that a non-Jew hates a Jew, a new halachah was formulated. If two Jews are eating a meal, one eating meatand the other dairy, they are not to share one table because they may exchange some of their food. However, a Jew and a non-Jew are permitted to share a table, even if one is eating meatand the other is eating dairy. The reason is that the non-Jew hates the Jew and there will not be any exchange of food between them.

(עיטורי תורה)

"וישא את עיניו וירא את הנשים ואת הילדים ויאמר מי אלה לך ויאמר הילדים אשר חנן ה'"
“Eisav lifted his eyes and saw the women and children. He said, ‘Who are these to you?’ And Yaakov replied, ‘The children which G‑d has graciously given to your servant.’” (33:5)

QUESTION: Eisav asked about the women and the children. Why did Yaakov reply only about the children?

ANSWER: The angels Yaakov sent to Eisav described Yaakov as being extremely pious; even in the house of Lavan he observed the 613 mitzvot.

When Eisav met Yaakov and saw his wives, he said to Yaakov, “I heard that you were very observant in the house of Lavan. If that is true, I wonder — 'מי אלה לך'? — Why, after you married Leah, did you marry her sister Rachel?” (The word "אלה" can be rearranged to spell לאה".")

Yaakov replied, “We have a halachah that 'גר שנתגייר כקטן שנולד דמי' — ‘A convert to Judaism is considered like a newborn child’ (Yevamot 22b). Before marrying, I had to convert Leah and Rachel. Consequently, my two wives are ‘hayeladim’ — the newborn children which Hashem was kind enough to grant me — and thus, I did not violate any law.”

(מנחת סופר)

"ויאמר עשו יש לי רב...ויאמר יעקב...קח נא את ברכתי...וכי יש לי כל"
“And Eisav said, ‘I have a lot,’ and Yaakov said, ‘Please accept my gift ... because I have everything.’” (33:9-11)

QUESTION: Why did Eisav say, “I have a lot” while Yaakov said, “I have everything”?

ANSWER: Yaakov was a righteous person and Eisav was wicked. The wicked are never fully satisfied. Therefore, Eisav said, “I have a lot.” He was insinuating that though he did have much wealth, he was not content because he did not have it all.

The nature of a tzaddik is to be happy with whatever he has and not to desire more. Therefore, Yaakov said, “Whatever I have is what Hashem gave me, and to me it is everything — I do not need any more.”

(כלי יקר)

והצאן והבקר עלות עלי ודפקום יום אחד ומתו כל הצאן
“The nursing flocks and cattle are upon me; and they will drive them hard for one day, then all the flocks will die.” (33:13)

QUESTION: Why didn’t Yaakov accept Eisav’s offer to accompany him and travel together at a slower pace?

ANSWER: The Patriarchs observed the Torah, and thus Yaakov was a Shomer Shabbat to the fullest degree. Eisav, being a non-Jew, was forbidden to observe Shabbat and could be put to death should he do so (Sanhedrin 58b).

Yaakov told Eisav, “When Shabbat comes I will have to rest for a day together with my entire camp, and you must continue on since you are forbidden to observe Shabbat. Sunday, I will have to go very quickly and cover two days of travel in one, in order to catch up with you. I am therefore afraid that, since my flocks are weak, if I will overdrive them ‘yom echad — ‘on the first day of the week’ (Sunday) — they will all die on me, and I will be left with nothing.”

(פרדס יוסף)

"ויבא יעקב שלם עיר שכם"
“And Yaakov came complete (see Rashi) to the city of Shechem.” (33:18)

QUESTION: What does “coming complete” mean?

ANSWER: The word “shalom” (שלם) is an acronym for “sheim” (שם) — name — “lashon” (לשון) — language — and “malbush” (מלבוש) — garment. The Torah is attesting to the fact that though Yaakov was associated with Lavan for twenty years, it did not have any affect upon him. He did not modernize and adopt a new name. He did not stop speaking his native tongue, Lashon HaKodesh-Hebrew,nor did he change his style of clothing according to the popular trend of Lavan’s society in the streets of Charan.

(בני יששכר)

"ותצא דינה בת לאה אשר ילדה ליעקב לראות בבנות הארץ"
“And there went out Dinah, the daughter of Leah, whom she bore to Yaakov, to look upon the daughters of the land.” (34:1)

QUESTION: Why is Dinah referred to as “bat Leah” — “daughter of Leah”?

ANSWER: Having become pregnant for the seventh time, Leah was worried that this could cause embarrassment to her sister Rachel. She knew that Yaakov was destined to father twelve tribes. Since she already had six sons, and the two maids, Bilhah and Zilpah, each had two sons, if she were to have a seventh son, Rachel would seem less worthy than the maids. Therefore, she prayed that her sister be spared embarrassment.

At the time of her prayers, Rachel, too, was pregnant and was carrying a girl. In response to her prayers, Hashem miraculously transferred the girl in Rachel’s womb to Leah, and the boy carried by Leah to Rachel (Niddah 31a, Maharsha). Thus, Rachel gave birth to Yosef, and Leah to Dinah. Consequently, the Torah emphasizes that Dinah was the daughter of Leah, because without her prayers, Leah would never have given birth to her.

(קדושת לוי)

"ויקחו שני בני יעקב שמעון ולוי אחי דינה איש חרבו"
Shimon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took each man his sword.” (34:25)

QUESTION: Does not the word “ish” — “[each] man” — seem superfluous?

ANSWER: At the time when this episode took place, Shimon and Levi were thirteen years old. The reference to them as “ish” is to teach us that at the age of thirteen one becomes a full fledged member of Klal Yisrael and obligated to observe all the mitzvot of the Torah (Avot 5:22, Bartenura).

The Rosh in his Responsa (Klal 16a) writes that the age of thirteen for Bar-Mitzvah is not based on a Biblical source, but is like all measurements, a Halachah LeMoshe MiSinai — an instruction given to Moshe when he was on Mt. Sinai.

* * *

The difference between the two views on Bar Mitzvah is relevant to Noachides. At what age are they obligated to perform their mitzvot? If it is derived from the case of Shimon and Levi, the number 13 would apply to a Noachide. However, if it is considered an instruction which was given to Moshe, this would not apply to a Noachide. Because, things which are learned through Halachah LeMoshe MiSinai are only for Israelites and not for Noachides. Therefore, as soon as a Noachide shows signs of understanding and responsibility, he is obligated to perform his mitzvot (Talmudic Encyclopedia, vol. 3, pg. 361).

* * *

The fact that a source for the age of Bar-Mitzvah is derived from Shimon and Levi imparts another very important lesson: As soon as one becomes thirteen years of age, one is expected to have mesirat nefesh (i.e., the highest degree of dedication) to defend and protect the integrity and sanctity of Klal Yisrael as well as each and every Jew.

(לקוטי שיחות ח"ה, הוספות - ועי' רשימות חכ"א)

"ויבאו על העיר בטח ויהרגו כל זכר"
“They came upon the city confidently and killed every male.” (34:25)

QUESTION: Why were Shimon and Levi confident that they would succeed?

ANSWER: Shechem wanted very much to marry Dinah. The sons of Yaakov agreed to the marriage on the condition that all the men of the city undergo a brit and be circumcised like Jews.

Shimon and Levi knew very well that if they would attack non-Jews, the residents of all cities around them would make an uproar and come to their rescue. Once they were circumcised, the entire world would consider them as members of the Jewish population and look aside when Jews were being killed. This sad truth was Shimon and Levi’s source of confidence.

(ר' יהונתן אייבשיץ ז"ל)

"ויהי חתת אלקים על הערים אשר סביבותיהם ולא רדפו אחרי בני יעקב"
“And the fear of Hashem was on the cities, and they did not chase after the children of Yaakov.” (35:5)

QUESTION: Why is the term chitat used and not “yirat,” the more commonly used term for fear?

ANSWER: The word "חתת" — “fear” — is also an acronym for Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya. The previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, urged that every day of the week, every Jew should study the portion of Chumash for the day of the week (Sunday till שני, Monday tillשלישי ), a portion of Tehillim according to the day of the month (the Tehillim is divided for the 30 days of the Hebrew month), and a portion of Tanya as it is divided for each day of the year. This is a great segulah for everyone materially and spiritually.

In 1843 the Tzemach Tzedek (Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the third Lubavitcher Rebbe) sent his son Rabbi Shmuel to Petersburg to discuss some communal concerns with Russian ministers. Prior to his departure he told him that his mother, Devorah Leah, appeared to him and told him that she had the zechut to visit the holy palace of the Ba’al Shem Tov in heaven. She sought his blessing to alleviate the difficulties confronting her son from the adversaries of Chassidic teachings. The Ba’al Shem Tov told her that through learning the holy seforim Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya, all difficulties and “barriers” would be nullified.

This pasuk alludes to this: "ויהי חתת" — when one learns Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya, then — “velo radefu acharei b’nei Yaakov” — they will not chase after the children of Yaakov — to do them any harm materially or spiritually.

(קיצורים והערות לספר לקוטי אמרים)

"ויהי בהקשתה בלדתה ותאמר לה המילדת אל תראי כי גם זה לך בן"
“When her labor was at its worst, the midwife said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid. This one will also be a son for you.’” (35:17)

QUESTION: What was Rachel’s fear and how did the midwife comfort her?

ANSWER: After Chavah persuaded Adam to eat the forbidden fruits of the Tree of Knowledge, she was punished with the curse of pain during childbirth. Since then, all women experience pain while giving birth. According to the Gemara (Niddah 31a), the pains at the birth of a girl are more severe than those of a boy.

Rachel knew that Yaakov would be the father of the twelve tribes. When she gave birth to her first son, she named him Yosef, saying, “May Hashem give me another son” (30:24). Thus, she expressed the hope to be a mother of two tribes. As she was giving birth, her exceptionally strong pains frightened her. She was unaware that this was because she was going to die during childbirth. She feared she was giving birth to a daughter and was being denied the merit of giving birth to the twelfth of the tribes.

The midwife comforted her by telling her not to fear: “Your interpretation of the pains is incorrect. You are indeed giving birth to a son, and the excruciating pains you are experiencing are unrelated to the gender of the child.”

(תורה תמימה)

"ויהי בצאת נפשה כי מתה ותקרא שמו בן אוני ואביו קרא לו בנימין"
“As she was expiring, she called him ‘the son of my agony,’ and his father called him ‘Binyamin.’” (35:18)

QUESTION: Why, when Rachel was in such a condition, did Yaakov argue with her over the name to be given to the newborn child?

ANSWER: Rachel felt that her life in this world was ending, and she worried about what would happen to her child if he grew up without the care of a mother.

As Yaakov was sitting at her bedside, she expressed her feelings: “I am very concerned about my child. I pray that when I am gone from this world and be in my heavenly abode, his behavior should not cause me pain and agony.”

Wanting to comfort his dying wife, Yaakov told her not to worry. He promised her that he would take special care of him and assured her that he would be a ben yamin” — “a right son,” one who would conduct himself as is right for his family, and he would be source of nachas to his mother in Gan Eden.

(מצאתי בכתבי אבי הרב שמואל פסח ז"ל באגאמילסקי)

"ואת בשמת בת ישמעאל"
“And [he married] Basmat the daughter of Yishmael” (36:3)

QUESTION: Rashi writes that “above (28:9) she is called “Machalat.” There is a rule that when one converts, ascends to a position of greatness, or marries, his sins are forgiven. She is thus called Machalat, because when Eisav married her, his sins were forgiven.”

Why is this message conveyed in regard to Eisav’s marriage and not at any of all the other marriages in the Torah till now?

ANSWER: Eisav had two wives and had children with them. Thus, he already fulfilled the mitzvah of procreation. Now he married Machalat as a third wife to have additional children. The message conveyed here is that marriage forgives sins even when one marries a wife in addition to his existing wife. The first such case is that of Eisav.

Though Yaakov too took additional wives while he already had wives and children, nevertheless, the lesson derived from Eisav cannot be derived from him, since Yaakov had no sins to begin with (see 25:7, Rashi).

The wedding day is the chatan and kallah’s personal Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur day possess a power of forgiveness for the Jewish people as stated “For on this day he shall provide atonement for you to cleanse, you; from all your sins before Hashem shall you be cleansed” (Vayikra 16:30). The same holds true with the wedding day of every Jewish chatan and kallah. Though Eisav was a Yisrael mumar — apostate Jew (see Kiddushin 18a), nevertheless he was a Jew and not a gentile.

(לקוטי שיחות ח"ל ע' 164, משכיל לדוד)

"ותמנע היתה פילגש לאליפז בן עשו ותלד לאליפז את עמלק"
“And Timnah was Elifaz’s concubine, and she bore him Amalek.” (36:12)

QUESTION: Why was she called “Timnah”?

ANSWER: The Gemara says that Rabbi Meir carefully studied and analyzed the names of people (Yoma 83b). Giving a name to a person is a form of prophecy (see Likkutei Sichot, vol. 7, pg. 308). In retrospect, one often sees how the name fits the character of the person. Sometimes the name even indicates an event which may happen in the future.

The purpose of having children is to assure the continuity of the family. Timnah gave birth to Amalek. He was the ancestor of Amalek who attacked the Jewish people (Shemot 17:8). Hashem promised that, “I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under the heaven” (ibid. 17:14). The root of the word “Timnah” (תמנע)isמנע , which means “to prevent” (See 30:2). This name suited her very well because her wicked grandchild prevented her from enjoying posterity.

(שער בת רבים)

"ואלה בני רעואל בן עשו אלוף נחת"
“These are the children of Reuel, the son of Eisav, chief Nachas.” (36:17)

QUESTION: Why, when we wish a person “nachas” from his children and grandchildren, do we emphasize Yiddishe or chassidishe nachas?

ANSWER: Eisav had a grandchild named “Nachas.” Therefore, when wishing someone “nachas,” we emphasize that we are not referring, G‑d forbid, to the type of “nachas” Eisav had. We are referring to real “nachas,” the kind which is derived from children and grandchildren who grow up in a Yiddish and chassidish way.

(שמעתי מהרב רפאל ז"ל שטיין)