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Vayishlach ~ 5773 ~ וישלח
Jacob, en route to Canaan, sends messengers to Aisav with a special greeting of appeasement. They return and inform Jacob that Aisav is on his way to meet Jacob with 400 men. Jacob prepares for a possible battle. Jacob sends three waves of servants bearing gifts for Aisav and then moves his camp across the Yabbok River. Jacob remains behind whereupon he is attacked and wrestles all night with an unnamed adversary. Upon first light, the “stranger” blesses Jacob by changing his name to “Yisrael”.
Jacob limps due to an injury incurred that night while wrestling with the angel. Upon meeting Aisav, Jacob com-pletely subjugates himself to his elder brother, who receives Jacob graciously. Jacob introduces his family to Aisav. At first, Aisav refuses Jacob’s gifts, but reluctantly accepts them. Aisav offers to travel with Jacob or at least to leave behind an escort, but Jacob refuses. Traveling on the Shechem, Jacob at last feels at ease and settles down to an apparent pastoral lifestyle.
Dina, the daughter of Jacob, is seduced by the Prince of Shechem. Desirous of a tribal merger and to facilitate peace, the entire male population agrees to be circumcised. Shimeon and Levi execute the entire male population on the third day after the circumcision. Jacob, fearful of antagonizing the gentile tribes, rebukes the brothers for their revenge. The family of Jacob purge themselves of all idolatrous things and journey to the place G-d first appeared to Jacob; there G-d blesses Jacob/Israel again. Rachel dies giving birth to Binyamin. Reuben dishonors his father by interfering with the father’s relationship with his concubine (apparently without any ramifications). Isaac dies and is buried by both Jacob and Aisav. The genera-tions of Aisav (his descendants) are given in detail. The lineage of Aisav continues as a transcript of successive generations.
MAFTIR: Genesis 36:40 – 42 ~ page 134
HAFTARAH: Obadiah 1:1-21 ~ page 135
Obadiah condemns Edom (the nation descended from Esau) for its bitter hatred towards Israel. The Edomites lull themselves into thinking that they are invulnerable but they will be overthrown by their so called allies and de-stroyed. They deserve punishment because of “the violence done to thy brother Jacob” and for when Jerusalem fell, they took part in the looting and prevented any fugitives from escaping. On the day of G-d’s judgment, their deeds will recoil on their own heads and a reunited Israel will be restored to its former territory.
Parashah & Holiday Study Questions
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1. What are the positive and negative reasons for Aisav bringing 400 men with him to greet Jacob (32:7)?
2. What historical military strategy is Jacob using by sending an overwhelming number of animals – gifts (32:15-16)?
3. Is Jacob mentioned in the Koran? Can Muslim’s eat hind quarters? What is Halal?
4. Which modern tradition has its origin in Jacob’s actions in 35: 20? What are the guidelines today for the ritual?
5. According to the Book of the Maccabees, who started the revolution against the Greeks? What does that mean to you?