by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS VAYISHLACH 5761 BS"D
L'ILUY NISHMAS OVI MORI R' CHAIM B"R SIMCHOH Z"L HK"M
Ch. 32, v. 4: "Vayishlach Yaakov malochim" - Rashi says "malochim MaMaSH," that he sent literally angels, rather than the common translation of "malochim" as agents. The Zohar he Chodosh says that Yaakov sent the angels Micho'el, Malkiel, and Shanandiel to help him in his difficulties with the upcoming encounter with Eisov. The Zohar adds that the numerical value of the names of these angels equals that of the word "ezras," - help of. They helped Yaakov, and therefore we begin the paragraph of our daily prayers where we extol Hashem for being the succour of our forefathers with the word "ezras." The Nitzotzei Shimshon says in the name of his Rebbi that "Vayishlach Yaakov malochim" has the same numerical value as the names of the three afore-mentioned angels, 676. The Nitzotzei Shimshon adds that this might be alluded to in Rashi when he says "malochim MaMaSH." The letters of the word MaMaSH, spelled Mem-Mem-Shin are the first letters of Micho'el, Malkiel, and Shanandiel.
With the words of the Holy Zohar we might have a most interesting explanation of an anomaly in a verse in T'hilim. Rashi in parshas Toldos on the words "vaachuzAS MEI'rei'ei'hu" (26:26) points out a grammatical problem with the "nismach" (connecting, as if the word "shel" is there) form of the word "vaachuzAS." The first explanation he gives is that in spite of the letter Mem at the beginning of "mei'rei'ei'hu" it is "nismach" because the Mem is not a prefix, but rather a basic letter of the word. He discards this explanation and says that "vaachuzAS" in spite of being in the "nismach" form should be understood as a "nifrad" word. He adds that we find this in other places, and cites two examples, one of which is "Hovoh lonu ezrOS MItzor" (T'hilim 60:13), which should have been "ezrOH MItzor." If the intention of "ezrOS MItzor" is to be "nifrad" why indeed is it written in "nismach" form? Perhaps by noting the thrust of the previous verses in this chapter we can have an answer. Earlier, in verses 10, 11, and 12 is stated that the bnei Yisroel will encounter confrontation with Pleshess and Edom (verses 10 and 11). Verse 12 expresses disappointment at not clearly seeing Hashem's providence in helping at war. Verse 12 is a supplication for help from Hashem. Since this is a request to help against Edom, Edom is Eisov (Breishis 36:1,8), we now understand why the word "ezrOS" is used. Since when Yaakov encountered Eisov by first sending the three angels whose names have the numerical value of "ezras," here too when requesting help against Edom the word "ezrOS" is invoked.
Ch. 32, v. 5 "Im Lovon GARTI" - Rashi (Medrash Lekach Tov) says that the word GARTI alludes to the fact that Yaakov guarded the 613 mitzvos of the Torah even while in the home of Lovon. The letters of GARTI are the same as TARYAG, numerically 613.
There is a very well known question. If our Patriarchs kept the 613 mitzvos, how did Yaakov marry two sisters (Vayikroh 18:18, "V'ishoh el achosoh lo sikoch")? This question is raised by many Rishonim and Acharonim and numerous answers are offered. A rundown of some sources: Responsa Rashbo 1:94, Radba"z 2:696, Ramban on Breishis 26:5, 48:7, Vayikro 18:25, Dvorim 11:18, Ramban on gemara Y'vomos 98a, Trumas Ha'deshen in Biu'rei Mahara"i on Breishis 29:28, Moshav Z'keinim on Breishis 29:28, Maharsh"o on Yoma 28b d.h. "mitzvos," Sdei Chemed Maa'reches hoAlef #186, Nefesh Hachaim 1:21, Mahara"tz Chayus on gemara Taanis 4a, Emes l'Yaakov, Igros Moshe Evven Ho'ezer 4:9, Gri"z al haTorah 29:28. This list is far from exhaustive, but includes some of the greatest of the great. Most interesting, the Ram"o in his responsa #10 says that although the gemara Yoma 28b states that Avrohom kept the mitzvos of the Torah, this is no indication that Yitzchok or Yaakov did. He concludes that the question is simply answered by saying that Yaakov did not fulfill the future mitzvos of the Torah, including that of not marrying two sisters. It seems the reason that all the above Rishonim and Acharonim and others did not give this simple answer is because of the Medrash Lekach Tov on our verse, quoted by Rashi, which clearly states that Yaakov guarded all 613 mitzvos of the Torah.
Ch. 32, v. 8: "Va'yaCHATZ es ho'om" - Rabbeinu Efrayim translates "va'yachatz" as "and he armed them with SPEARS," from the word source "CHEITZ."
Ch. 32, v. 25 "Va'yivo'seir Yaakov l'vado" - Rashi (gemara Chulin 91a) says that Yaakov was alone because he had forgotten some small vessels and returned to fetch them. The Droshos hoRan drush #6 writes that there are those who study the Torah and note that our Holy Patriarchs involved themselves in very earthly matters, in agricultural and livestock pursuits, and point out that Yaakov even bothered with recovering a few small vessels. They derive from this that these matters are a very important pursuit and say that they will follow suit and immerse themselves into them. Says the Ran, "Woe is to the people who see but don't comprehend what they see! They only see the outer part but fail to comprehend the inner depth of our Patriarchs' actions.
Ch. 32, v. 26 " Va'yiga b'chaf y'reicho" - The Holy Zohar interprets metaphorically that the ministering angel who attacked Yaakov and injured his thigh as weakening support of Torah, "tamchin d'Oreiso, just as the thigh supports the body and keeps it upright. The Pni'nei Chaim points out that "va'yiga" has the numerical value of Chanukah, while "kaf y'reicho" is equal to Purim. These are the two pillars that support the Torah, as Chanukah embodies the fight to keep the light of Torah pure and Purim embodies the concept of receiving the Torah willingly.
Ch. 34, v. 25,26: "Va'yovo'u al ho'ir betach va'yahargu kol zochor, V'es Chamore v'es Sh'chem bno horgu l'fi cho'rev" - Why by the killing of the male populace of the city is a sword not mentioned, and by the killing of Chamor and Sh'chem it is mentioned? The Alshich Hakodosh answers that the general populace did not have the desires of Chamor, to become a m'chuton with Yaakov, nor of Sh'chem to marry Dinoh, and yet they sinned (see Rambam hilchos m'lochim 9:14). Being guilty with absolutely no excuse is a much more grievous sin than when doing it for personal gain. Therefore the general populace was easier to slay, hence no mention of a sword. This is also why they came upon the people of the city BETACH, assured that they would overpower them without any difficulties. Killing Chamor and Sh'chem whose sin was not as serious required more effort, and is alluded to by mentioning the use of a sword. Perhaps this is why the killing of Chamor and Sh'chem is in a separate verse, as otherwise these two verse could have easily melded into one.
The Mahari"l Diskin answers that the killing of the general populace was unchallenged as they were all greatly weakened on the third day since their circumcision. However Chamor and Sh'chem had circumcised themselves earlier as mentioned in verse 19, "V'lo eichar hanaar laasose hadovor." They had recovered from their circumcision and killing them required more effort, hence the mention of a sword. I don't see an indication of when Chamor had himself circumcised.
Ch. 34, v. 29: "V'es kol tapom v'es n'shei'hem shovu" - As mentioned in the previous offering, the Rambam hilchos m'lochim 9:14 tells us why the people of Sh'chem were deserving of the death penalty. He writes that among the seven mitzvos incumbent upon bnei Noach there is a mitzvoh to set up a court system and to properly administer the laws for those who have transgressed any of the seven Noachide laws. The punishment for transgressing any of the laws is the death penalty. Since Sh'chem held Dinoh against her will he was guilty of theft. The people of the community did not react by taking Sh'chem to a court and holding him accountable for this sin. They therefore also sinned and were deserving of death. The Ramban in his commentary on verse 13 disagrees with the Rambam and posits that although administering a court system is indeed one of the seven Noachide mitzvos, not fulfilling this particular mitzvoh does not carry the death penalty, in contradistinction to all the other Noachide mitzvos. He proves that the people of Sh'chem were idol worshippers and as such deserved the death penalty. In truth, other communities as well served idols and deserved the same. However, the bnei Yaakov did not have to carry this out at the risk of their own lives. With regard to the city of Sh'chem, where their sister was violated, and the whole population seemed to go along with it they were willing to act.
The Meshech Chochmoh feels that our verse is a strong indication to the opinion of the Rambam. Our verse tells us that the women of this community were captured and not killed. According to the Rambam this is correct, since the gemara Sanhedrin 57b says that even though it is enough to have but one witness to judge a ben Noach guilty, but a woman's testimony is not accepted. Therefore the women were not guilty of not administering justice, since their testimony would not be accepted. However, according to the Ramban who posits that their sin was idol worship, why didn't Shimon and Levi also kill the women, as we find in Bmidbar 31:17 and Shoftim 21:11, and as is explained in the Rambam hilchos avodoh zoroh 4:6?
Perhaps the opinion of the Ramban can be answered as follows: The Moshav Z'keinim and Paa'nei'ach Rozo ask the opposite of the Meshech Chochmoh's question. Why were the women and children not left alone? They answer that this was done as a strategy to safeguard the bnei Yaakov. After killing out the city of Sh'chem there was a very real fear of the neighbouring peoples attacking the bnei Yaakov, as was indeed very strongly voiced by Yaakov in verse 30. By capturing the women and children who were relatives of the people of the surrounding area they gained leverage to strike a peace deal with them, as otherwise, if the bnei Yaakov were to be attacked there was a fear in the minds of the attackers that their relatives would be killed. They bring a proof for this by pointing out that otherwise how would Yaakov dare send out Yoseif to Sh'chem (37:13), a place of mortal danger.
Thus the question of the Meshech Chochmoh is answered. Although according to the Ramban the women also deserved to be killed, one is not required to carry this out and risk his life, if instead he could capture them and strike a peace treaty, as mentioned in the Moshav Z'keinim and Paa'nei'ach Rozo. A slight indication for the insight of these two commentators might be found in the order of the verse, mentioning the children before the women. If the intention of taking them as spoils of a battle was for their intrinsic value, the women who were of greater value than children, as servants and for procreating a new generation of servants, should be mentioned first, in the order of the greater and the lesser. If however, the intention was to take them hostage to work out a treaty, then mentioning the children first is logical, as there were probably more children than grown women.
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