by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VA'YISHLACH 5768 BS"D
Ch. 32, v. 6: "Va'y'hi li shor vachamor" - And I have oxen and donkeys - Wherever bovine and sheep/goat livestock are listed, "tzone" is mentioned first. The reason "tzone" is relegated here is because it was through "tzone" that Yaakov wrested the blessings from Eisov. Rivkoh told Yaakov, "Lech noh el hatzone." He therefore did not want to start his list with "tzone." (Rabbeinu Bachyei)
Alternatively, the M.R. says that Yaakov wanted to start with "shor" because he wanted to hint to Eisov that he had Yoseif in his encampment. Beis Yoseif is a nemesis to Eisov, as per the verse, "Uveis Yoseif lehovoh uveis Eisov l'kash" (Ovadioh 1).
Ch. 32, v. 8: "Va'yeero Yaakov m'ode va'yeitzer lo" - And Yaakov feared greatly and he had angst - Medrash Hagodol says that he feared Eisov. His angst came from his wives. As long as Yaakov remained calm they relied on him that their trip to Eretz Yisroel would pass without incident. When they saw his visible fear of Eisov they complained to him, saying that they should never have left their father's house.
Ch. 33, v. 14: "Ad asher ovo el adoni Sei'iroh" - Until I will come to my master to Sei'ir - This was a ploy to get Eisov to continue his travels while Yaakov would turn of the road earlier. However, the Baal Haturim says that there will be a fulfillment of these words in the future, when Moshiach will come. At that time Yaakov's descendants will go to Sei'ir, "V'olu moshi'im b'har Tzion lishpote es har Eisov" (Ovadioh 1:21). Abarbanel says that Yaakov did not deviate from the truth even one iota. Read the verse as follows: "May my master (Eisov) pass ahead of his servant, and I will lead at my slow pace …… until I will come to my master (my father Yitzchok). The final word of this verse, "Sei'iroh" is a hanging word, referring back to Eisov's destination, Sei'ir, as if this word comes after "avdo."
Ch. 34, v. 25: "Va'y'hi va'yom hashlishi bi'h'yosom ko'avim" - And it was the third day while they were aching - The reason they waited until the third day is because the sons of Yaakov were undecided whether or not to proceed with the plan to kill the people. When they suggested that the men all be circumcised they planned to kill them, but afterwards a doubt crept into their minds. Finally on the third day Shimon and Levi came to a decision to proceed. Read "bi'h'yosom ko'avim" as "while they were STILL aching." Earlier would have been even better. (Tur)
Ch. 34, v. 27: "Va'yovozu ho'ir" - And they despoiled the city- Rabbi Moshe Hadarshon says that they removed the clothing of the dead people, leaving them naked in the streets. This is appropriate because their ancestor Chom did not cover Noach's nakedness.
Ch. 34, v. 27: "Asher timu achosom" - Which defiled their sister - Why are all the residents of the city held responsible for Dinoh's being violated? This is because they were all witness to Sh'chem's forcibly taking her into his home. (Rada"k)
We now understand why the bnei Yaakov took spoils. Since all the residents were held responsible for Sh'chem's act, it is proper to take compensation for Dinoh's embarrassment. Even though the property of a whole city seems to be an extravagant payment, embarrassment payment is judged by the level of shame. A greater person, especially a member of a regal household, suffers greater shame. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)
Ch. 34, v. 30: "Va'yomer Yaakov el Shimon v'el Levi achartem osi" - And Yaakov said to Shimon and Levi you have made me murky - We are but a few people living among the Canaanite nations. Yaakov told them that the reason they do not destroy us is in spite of their knowledge that we plan to take over the country, it will only take place much later, when we multiply greatly, as per the verse in Shmos 23:30, "Ad asher tifreh v'nochalto es ho'oretz." However, with your rash action of wiping out all adult males in the city all surrounding communities will surmise that you are beginning the conquest of the land. We are but a few and this would likely bring to our ch"v being wiped out to a man. (Y'dei Moshe)
Mei'am Lo'eiz cites the Sha"ch who explains Yaakov's words as follows: Until now all the surrounding communities were afraid of us, assuming that we are exceedingly powerful and capable of vanquishing any number of people. Now that you have slain the men of this city through the use of a ploy, rather than simply warring with them when they are hale and hardy, they will assume that we are not as strong as they thought, and would be willing to fight us.
Ch. 35, v. 2: "Hosiru elohei ha'neichor asher b'sochachem …… v'hachalifu simloseichem" - Remove the false gods from among you …… and change your clothing - The Meshech Chochmoh explains that since Yaakov and his family was about to enter Eretz Yisroel they had to comply with the Torah's laws. While outside of Eretz Yisroel they did not keep all its laws, as explained by the Ramban (Breishis 26:5). They might have been wearing garments that contained shaatnez, so he told them to change their clothing for shaatnez-free clothing.
Based on this insight of the Meshech Chochmoh we might likewise explain Yaakov's telling his household to discard their idols. While outside Eretz Yisroel they were not bound by the Torah's laws and had the status of ben Noach. Accordingly, when they took possession of idols which were part of the spoils of the city Sh'chem they verbally negated them, which is a valid negation, allowing them to keep the idols. Now that they were about to enter Eretz Yisroel, they would have the status of bnei Yisroel, he told them to discard them. Although their previous negation was valid at the time, since they were the same people and did not technically go through a conversion process, upon attaining bnei Yisroel status, he felt that they should not keep the idols.
What deserves clarification is that it seems that they had already entered Eretz Yisroel before the incident with Sh'chem, as in 33:18 the verse says, "Va'yovo Yaakov sho'leim ir Sh'chem asher b'eretz Canaan." Tzror Hamor clearly states that they had entered Eretz Yisroel, as he says that Yaakov should have built an altar immediately upon being saved from Eisov, but waited until he entered Eretz Yisroel.
Ch. 35, v. 5: "Va'y'hi chitas Elokim al he'orim asher svivoseihem" - And there was the fear of Elokim upon the cities surrounding them -
1) The nearby communities reasoned that if two young sons of Yaakov were able to wipe out Sh'chem, surely all his sons combined would be victorious over even a large army. (Medrash Lekach Tov)
2) The nearby communities witnessed Yaakov lifting up the "olloh" tree, placing the "elohei neichor" under it, and replacing the tree into the ground, all this with his bare hands. This display of great strength threw fear into them. (Medrash Hagodol)
3) The nearby communities wanted to go to war, but Hashem broke up the ground below them to a very great depth, and also set fire to an area between them and the bnei Yisroel. This put great fear into their hearts. (Medrash Agodoh)
Ch. 35, v. 20: "Hee matzeves k'vuras Rochel" - It is the monument of the burial spot of Rochel - Breishis Zuta says that each of her sons took a stone of marble and placed it upon her burial spot. Then Yaakov placed his stone upon theirs. A commentator on Breishis Zuta relates that a known traveler, Rabbi P'sachioh of Regensberg, wrote that when he came to kever Rochel he saw a pile of 11 stones and one stone on top of them. Obviously, Binyomin did not place a stone there.
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