Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 32, v. 9: "Hamacha'neh ho'achas v'hikohu hamacha'neh hanishor" - Rashi points out that the word "macha'neh" is both male and female form, as the word "ho'achas" is a female form adjective and "v'hikohu" has a male pronoun suffix. Why does the Torah change the gender in the same verse even if either form can be used? 2) Ch. 32, v. 12: "Hatzi'leini noh miyad ochi miyad Eisov" - Why doesn't the verse simply say "Hatzi'leini noh miyad ochi Eisov"? 3) Ch. 33, v. 5: "Va'yar es hanoshim v'es ha'y'lodim va'yomer mi eileh loch va'yomar ha'y'lodim asher chonan Elokim" - Eisov asked about both the women and the children. Why did Yaakov only respond about the children? 4) Ch. 34, v. 25: "Va'y'hi va'yom hashlishi bi'h'yosom ko'avim" - And it was on the third day when they were aching - Why did Shimon and Levi carry out their plan specifically on the third day? 5) Ch. 36, v. 15,16: "Aluf Knaz, aluf Gatom" - Chieftain Teimon chieftain Knaz - In verse 11 we find the order reversed, with Gatom mentioned ahead of Knaz.



1) 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."

2) The Haa'meik Dovor explains the use of the female form "ho'achas" and the male form "v'hikohu" to indicate that when he split his group into two camps, the first was weaker, hence the female form, and the second was stronger, hence the male form. This explanation deals only with the gender change to the word "hanishor," but not with "v'hikoHU."

3) MVRHRH"G R' Yaakov Kamenecki zt"l explains that the female form refers to the geographic location, hence the female form, as is the case with all geographic locations, "eretz," etc. The male form refers to the people of the encampment, male form. This is especially well understood as "If he will come to the encampment location (female) and he will hit it (male) meaning "the people." As well, the verse goes on to say that the remaining "macha'neh" will escape, expressed as "hanishor" (male). An area of land cannot move.


1) 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.

2) 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.


Rabbi Yitzchok Weiss, Rav of Verbau, answers that the gemara Sotoh 12a states that one who takes a wife "l'sheim Shomayim," for the sake of Heaven to fulfill mitzvos, and not for his personal gratification, is equated to having sired her. Thus Yaakov responded that the whole group, including his wives are to be considered his children, as he married the women "l'sheim Shomayim." (Siach Yitzchok)


1) The Ra"n in his commentary on the gemara Shabbos chapter R'Eliezer d'Miloh writes that although the medical danger from circumcision is greatest immediately after the procedure and continually improves, nevertheless, weakness from the procedure is greatest on the third day. Shimon and Levi waited for the time that they were weakest to fight them.

2) Baa'lei Tosfos write that it took three days for all the males in the city to be circumcised. The Tur writes that Shimon and Levi tossed their plan back and forth for two full days and on the third day, when the men of the city were STILL aching, they decided to go ahead with their plan.

3) Rabbeinu Chaim Paltiel and Abarbanel offer that this was the third day since Dinoh was defiled, the actual day of their circumcision.

4) Alternatively, Rabbeinu Chaim Paltiel asks how Shimon and Levi did not keep their word. He answers that Shimon and Levi thought the inhabitants of the city would surely not go along with the plan of mass circumcision. After all, what was in it for them? When to their surprise all males circumcised they still had the right to kill out the city. Agreement to give their sister to Sh'chem was conditional not only upon all the males being circumcised, but also upon all the city's inhabitants renouncing their idols. This was their intention when they said in verse 15 "im ti'h'yu chomonu," besides saying "l'himole lochem kol zochor." For two days they behaved, but on the third day they went back to their idolatry.

This point is strongly substantiated by Rabbi Yehudoh Chosid. On Breishis 35:4, "va'yitmone osom Yaakov," and Yaakov hid the idols under a tree, he asks why Yaakov didn't simply destroy them by grinding them to dust or the like, a much safer way of assuring that the idols would never be used again. He answers that if surrounding communities would accost him, complaining that his sons massacred innocent people, Yaakov could then claim that an agreement was made that included the Sh'chemites totally renouncing their belief in idols and destroying them. Rabbeinu Menachem says that when Yaakov's sons took of the spoils of the city (34:29), this included the idols that they claimed they had destroyed. By only hiding the idols and not destroying them, Yaakov would be able to produce evidence of this.

Since Sh'chem kept Dinoh with the approval of all the people and they went back to serving their idols, thus not keeping their part of the agreement, holding onto Dinoh was kidnapping. This is the intention of the words of our verse, "Va'y'hi va'yom hashlishi bi'h'yosom ko'avim." It was on the third day when they were aching for their idols.

5) The "third day" means Tuesday. On this day the planet "maadim" has dominion, and it is a day that has a propensity for blood. Shimon and Levi waited for this day so that they should be successful in their plan to enact a mass slaughter. (A'keidas Yitzchok)


In verse 11 the point of information is the order of their births, "Va'y'h'yu bnei Elifoz v'Gatom u'Knaz." Gatom was older than Knaz and is mentioned first. Verses 15 and 16 are discussing who were the chieftains, "Ei'leh alu'fei vnei Eisov." Knaz was appointed as a chieftain earlier than Gatom was, and is therefore mentioned earlier. (Rabbi Avrohom ben hoRambam)

This explanation does not seem to alleviate the switch in order of Teimon ahead of Knaz in verse 15, and Knaz ahead of Teimon in verse 42, as both verses discuss their being chieftains.



See also Sedrah Selections, Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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