by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VAYISHLACH 5763 BS"D
Ch. 32, v. 8: "Va'yiro Yaakov va'yeitzer lo" - And Yaakov feared and it distressed him - Rashi explains that Yaakov feared that he might be killed and was distressed that he might kill others in his encounter with Eisov and his 400 men.
Alternatively, Yaakov felt fear enveloping him and this itself caused him distress, since Hashem had promised him that he would emerge safely from his adversaries. (Rabbi Eliav haKohein)
Another explanation: when Yaakov was apprised that Eisov was coming with 400 henchmen to kill him, he feared that he might be killed, and he was distressed because Eisov said that when his father Yitzchok would die he would then take revenge on Yaakov (Breishis 27:41). Yaakov thus realized that his father died. (Daas Z'keinim)
Ch. 32, v. 9: "El hamacha'neh ho'achas v'hikohu" - To one encampment and he will hit it - Rashi points out that there is a gender conflict between "ho'achaS" and "v'hikoHU." Rabbi Shlomo Ashtruk says that the antecedent of the pronoun suffix HU added to "v'hiko" refers to Eisov. If Eisov will attack one encampment, the people of that encampment will hit him, Eisov. It seems that this still does not alleviate the gender conflict between "ho'achas" and "hanishor."
Ch. 32, v. 12: "Hatzi'leini noh miyad ochi miyad Eisov" - Please save me from the hand of my brother from the hand of Eisov - Why doesn't the verse simply say "Hatzi'leini noh miyad ochi Eisov"? The Rokei'ach has a most novel translation of these words based on the Medrash Hagodol. M.H. says that Eisov had a son whom he named Ochi, "my brother." His intention was to have a constant reminder that he had a brother whom he loathed and that he would extract revenge from him. He brought up this son and indoctrinated his raison d'etre to be the hatred of Yaakov, a person whom he never met (shades of people being indoctrinated from their mothers' milk to be martyrs while killing as many of their opponents as possible). Thus Yaakov prayed to Hashem to save him from the hand of Ochi and from the hand of Eisov.
As an aside, contrast this with Binyomin whose 10 sons were all named for his loss of his brother Yoseif and for Yoseif's pain (see Rashi Breishis 43:30). It is no wonder that Hashem arranged matters so that Binyomin would not yet be born, so as not to bow down to Eisov, as Binyomin was his total antithesis. Alternatively, the Beis haLevi answers that Yaakov prayed not only for his immediate situation, but also for future generations of bnei Yisroel who would have an encounter with Eisov. Eisov, when overtly showing disdain and even hatred for us is an opponent from whom Yaakov asked Hashem to save us. More dangerous yet is the covert Eisov, the one who comes forward espousing brotherly love, while in his heart he wishes to really destroy us, both physically and spiritually. This Eisov, who acts like a brother, "ochi," is far more dangerous, to the point that Yaakov first asked to be saved from the hand of his brother.
Ch. 33, v. 4: "Va'yipol al tzavorov" - And he fell upon his neck - The word "tzavorov" is written defectively, lacking the letter Yud between the Reish and the Vov, thus allowing this word to be read "tzavoro," in the singular form. This is because Eisov, even in an act of showing affection, limited it to kissing his brother on only one side of his neck. Compare this with Breishis 45:14, where Yoseif and Binyomin kissed, and 46:29, where Yaakov and Yoseif kissed, where the word the word "tzavorov" is spelled out in full, indicating that they kissed on both sides of the neck. (Seichel Tov)
Ch. 33, v. 4: "Va'yisho'keihu va'yivku" - And he kissed him and they cried - Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer, Medrash Tanchuma, and Medrash Seichel Tov say that Eisov did not intend to kiss Yaakov on his neck, but rather to inflict a fatal bite. Read "va'yisho'keihu" as "va'yisho'CHeihu," and he bit him. Yaakov was miraculously saved by having his neck stiffen as ivory, marble, or iron. Eisov suffered from dental snap, crackle, and pop. This is why he cried. Why did Yaakov cry? Medrash Seichel Tov answers that even though Yaakov was miraculously saved it was at a cost. During the time that his neck was stiff it caused him pain.
Ch. 33, v. 5: "Va'yar es hanoshim" - And he saw the women - Medrash Habi'ur writes: "Cursed are the evil ones. Even when they are in excruciating pain (Eisov just smashed his teeth) their base impulses control them and they concentrate on women."
Ch. 33, v. 15: "Atzigoh noh imcho min ho'om asher iti" - May I please leave standing with you some of the group that is with me - The medrash says that when Eisov saw that Yaakov had an abundance of wealth he said that if you have this temporal world, perhaps I will still merit a portion in the world to come. Yaakov said that this would not happen unless he were to change. Eisov responded with a plea that if one of his descendants would want to convert, that Yaakov's descendants should accept him, "atzigoh noh imcho min ho'om asher iti." Yaakov agreed to this. There is an allusion to this as the numerical value of "atzigoh" is the same as "zeh Ovadioh," who was a prominent convert who became a prophet. (Paa'nei'ach Rozo)
Ch. 34, v. 13: "Va'yaanu vnei Yaakov es Sh'chem .. b'mirmoh" - And the sons of Yaakov responded to Sh'chem .. with cunning - On a previous occasion I have brought that MVRHRH"G R' Yaakov Kamenecki zt"l writes that Yaakov's sons responded rather than he because although he agreed to have Sh'chem and his father killed, since the scheme would require not being totally truthful, Yaakov was not willing to do this. I have since found this idea in the Rada"k. Haksav V'hakaboloh justifies not being totally truthful to Sh'chem and his father because they themselves lied by saying that Sh'chem yearned for Dinoh. These words indicate that he yearned for her but did not forcefully take her. Therefore, they and their whole community, which was aware of the lie were paid back in kind, with a falsehood.
Ch. 34, v. 25: "Va'y'hi ba'yom hashlishi bi'h'yosom ko'avim .. va'yahargu kol zochor" - And it was the third day when they were in pain .. and they slew every male - The Rambam in hilchos m'lochim 9:14 says that the people of Sh'chem deserved this punishment because they did not bring Sh'chem to justice. The Ramban says that it was a punishment for their idol worship. Rabbi Yaakov of Vienna says in the name of Rabbi Yehudoh Chosid that "bi'h'yosom ko'avim" refers not to their aching from circumcision, but rather to their being pained over having agreed to and having gone through circumcision. In other words, they totally regretted doing this and they said that once they recover they would kill the bnei Yaakov. The bnei Yaakov were apprised of this and applied the rule "habo l'hor'g'cho hashkeim olov l'horgo" (gemara Sanhedrin 72a), - if someone arises to kill you, pre-empt him and kill him first.
Ch. 35, v. 2: "Hosiru elohei ha'neichor asher b'soch'chem" - Remove the false gods that are within you" - Shimon and Levi had just displayed a great measure of anger, as demonstrated by their decimating the community of Sh'chem. Anger is equated with idol worship (Zohar 1:27b, see Rambam's commentary on Pirkei Ovos 2:10). This is Yaakov's intention in telling his household to remove idols from WITHIN them. (Shaa'rei Simchoh)
Ch. 35, v. 2: "V'hachalifu simloseichem" - And switch your clothing - In keeping with the Ramban's opinion that our Patriarchs did not take upon themselves to fulfill the 613 mitzvos when outside Eretz Yisroel, there is the possibility that some members of his household were dressed in garments that contained shaatnez. This is why shortly after their entry into Eretz Yisroel he told them to change their clothing. (Meshech Chochmoh)
Ch. 35, v. 2,3: "V'hachalifu simloseichem, V'nokumoh v'naa'leh Beis Ei-l" - And switch your clothing, And we will rise and go up to Beis Ei'L - This alludes to the changing into more respectable clothing in preparation for prayer. (Baal Haturim)
A submission by R' P.G. Submissions are very welcome!
Yaakov was left alone and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn. (Breishis 32:25) - The Gemara says that every person should say to himself, "The whole world was created only for my sake." This thought has far reaching implications. When you realize that the whole world was created for no one but you, it follows that the survival or destruction of the world hinges on your choice to do good or evil. Since you are the only one around, you need not be concerned about the opinions of others when you are serving G-d, for next to you, all else is of secondary importance. When you look at life from this perspective then you will serve G-d with total devotion, without any ulterior motive or muddled thinking. You will then break down all the klippos - the outer barriers that prevent you from perceiving holiness. The pasuk, "Yaakov was left alone", alludes to this idea. He reached a high spiritual plateau of believing that he was the only person in the world, and that the continued existence of the world depended on his merits. Thus he strived for perfection, and his service of G-d was pure and complete.
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