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Parshat Vayishlach

PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
ROSH YESHIVA
IN
YESHIVAS RABAINU YAAKOV YOSEF
(RABBI JACOB JOSEPH YESHIVA - RJJ)
IN NYC FOR OVER 23 YEARS.
NIFTAR ON 20 ADAR 5758 - MARCH 18, 1998.
MAY HE BE A MAYLITZ YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL.

AND

MY DEAR MOTHER
REBITZEN BRACHA ETEL SHIMANOWITZ A'H
WHO DEVOTED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO MY FATHER AND HIS TORAH,
NIFTERA ON 21 TEVET 5770 - WED EVE. JANUARY 6, 2010.
MAY SHE BE A MAYLITZA YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL


Menachim Z. Shimanowitz

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PARSHA
FACTS

ONE MITZVAT LO TAASEH IN THIS PARSHA
(Negative Commandment - Prohibition).
One of the Taryag (613) Mitzvot, the first prohibition of the Torah's 365; the only one in Bereishit - Not to eat the Gid HaNashe - the Sciatic nerve on the hip joint of an animal.

NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 154

NUMBER OF WORDS: 1976

NUMBER OF LETTERS: 7458

HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha)
Ovadiah
1:1-21

OUTSIDE OF ERETZ YISROEL
MONDAY NIGHT, DEC. 4, 17 KISLEV
At Maariv of Monday night Dec. 4, 17 Kislev,
we begin to include "ותן טל ומטר" into the Shmona Esrei.

פרשת וישלח
THE
PARSHA
In our last episode Yaakov took his wives, kids and possessions and split from Lavan's house in a hurry. When Lavan found out they were gone, he chased Yaakov, intending to teach him a lesson. But Hashem warned Lavan to keep his hands off Yaakov. So Lavan made a peace treaty instead.

As our Parsha opens, Yaakov is about to face his brother Esav for the first time in over 34 years. Has Esav forgotten the nifty way that Yaakov "stole" the brachot of the first born out from under his nose? Who knows? Maybe Esav has done teshuva since last he tried to kill Yaakov.


FAMILY
REUNION
So Yaakov sends a couple of messengers ahead to Seir where Esav lives. The messengers don't have to travel too far before they spot Esav and 400 soldiers heading straight at them! Quickly the messengers return to Yaakov with the dreaded news. "Soldiers... weapons... that means war!" declares Yaakov. Even though Hashem has promised Yaakov protection, Yaakov prepares for battle in three ways:
    Yaakov Pepares for Esav
  1. Yaakov isn't taking any chances. Just in case he or someone in his family sinned somewhere along the line, he prays to Hashem for his household's safety.

  2. Yaakov prepares gifts to "butter up" Esav: gold, silver and jewels, plus over 200 goats, camels, cows, bulls and donkeys. He orders his servants not to give them to Esav all at once, but to spread them out so they look more numerous.

  3. Yaakov splits his people into two groups so that if one group is attacked, the other can make a run for it.

DATE
WITH A
MALACH
Yaakov moves his family and possessions back across the Yabok river where they will be safe. By evening he realizes he has left a couple of jars and knick-knacks at the old camp site. Being a true tzadik, even the smallest jars and possessions are important to him. So he goes back to retrieve them.

Yaakov wrestles with a Malach On the other side, a strange man attacks him. All night they wrestle, locked arm in arm. Both men possess incredible strength. Neither can knock the other down. As the first rays of the sun appear on the horizon, in desperation, the stranger dislocates Yaakov's hip. Now Yaakov is left limping, but still he will not loosen his grip on the stranger. Now the stranger begins to panic! He begs Yaakov to let go. But before Yaakov will release him, he wants to know why, and who this stranger is.

The stranger reveals himself as a Malach (Angel). Not just any Malach... He is Esav's Malach (guardian angel), on a mission to teach Yaakov a lesson about messing with Esav. Instead, it is Hashem who teaches both the Malach and Yaakov a lesson. That lesson is that Hashem will always protect Yaakov against his enemies.

Yaakov insists that the Malach bless him. Indeed, the Malach gives him a mega-bracha. First, it acknowledges Yaakov's right to Yitzchok's brachot. Second, the Malach declares that "from now on you (Yaakov) will be known as Yisroel," declaring that Yaakov fought with a Malach and won. Now Yaakov could be sure that he would be successful in his imminent confrontation with Esav.

Because the Malach hit Yaakov¹s hip joint, the Torah prohibits a Jew from eating the Gid Ha-Nashe - the Sciatic nerve on the hip joint of an animal - to this very day.


FACE
TO
FACE
As the sun rises, Yaakov sees Esav and his army approaching. Yaakov stands at the forefront of his camp, ready to face Esav. As Esav moves in, Yaakov bows before him seven times. This appeases Esav. He runs up to Yaakov with thirty years worth of hugs and kisses. When Esav sees the wives, children and possessions that Yaakov has amassed, he suggests they travel together for a little while. But Yaakov knows that deep down Esav is evil. Better to part ways now before he influences the family.

Yaakov pulls Esav aside. As much as he'd like to march his family along with the troops, the little children and his wives could never make it past boot camp. Esav and Yaakov agree to meet at a later date on Mount Seir. That¹s where Esav and his clan have settled. Of course, Yaakov has no immediate plans to go near that mountain, but our sages say that one day Yaakov and Esav will face off at Seir when Moshiach comes. (Bimheira Beyomainu, May it happen speedily in our days, Amen.)


DEALING
WITH
DINA
The Yaakov clan settles on the outskirts of Shechem. Yaakov now has eleven sons and one daughter, Dina. The boys have plenty to do tending the flocks, but Dina leads a boring life, sitting around the tent just waiting for something exciting to happen. She doesn't realize that these are dangerous times for a girl to be out by herself.

Well, one day a noisy group of local girls passes by. This is the break that Dina's been waiting for. Without her father's permission, she slips out onto the street to check out the commotion. But Dina doesn't know that she's caused a stir of her own. Sh'chem, the son of Chamor, a prince of a tribe called Chivi, has spotted her. He decides he likes Dina. As a matter of fact, he likes her so much that he kidnaps her to make her his wife.

When Yaakov and his sons return from the fields they are surprised to see Chamor, Sh'chem's father, sitting on the porch. They soon learn that Dina is being held captive. Needless to say, they are fuming mad! But Chamor sees the situation as an opportunity. He admits that his son is a bit compulsive. But perhaps there is a way to make a proper Shiduch out of this mess. Chamor offers Yaakov all the money he can muster. "Let's be one big happy family," declares Chamor. "My boys will marry your girls and vice versa. It'll be a hoot!"

Shimon and Levi, two of Yaakov's sons, don't want to do any dealing. They¹re tired of talking and they are mad as hens that Chamor would even think of turning a kidnapping into a Shiduch. They are also mad that the people of the city aren't by Sh'chem's house protesting the kidnapping and demanding her release. They want revenge - on everyone! Here's what they do: "Lookee here, Chamor," they tell the father, "We think it's a mighty fine idea for our two families to hook up together, but we've got a rule, that any man who wants to be a part of our family has to be circumcised. You go back and do a little cutting and then we'll talk."

Chamor goes back to town and convinces all the men to accept circumcision. No problem, they figure that since Yaakov is so rich they'll make a bundle of shekels marrying into his family. Little do they know that this is all part of a vengeful plot.

On the third day following the mass circumcision, just when the townsmen are sickest and weakest, Shimon and Levi strap on their swords and head for Chiviland. They murder Chamor, Sh'chem and all the men in town, bringing Dina back from the bloodbath. When Yaakov hears about the massacre, he is really mad. How could Shimon and Levi go on a killing spree endangering Yaakov's family reputation? Up until now the Canaanite nations have always viewed Yaakov as a peacemaking tzadik. But now he will be seen as a major threat that must be crushed. Hashem reminds Yaakov that his family will be protected from the surrounding nations, and indeed they are. Just as Yaakov feared, in the aftermath of the bloody massacre, army after army attacks Yaakov, but he is victorious in battle each time. Finally these armies give up and leave Yaakov in peace.


BACKTRACK
TO
BAIT AIL
In all the excitement there is one thing that Yaakov has forgotten. Remember what Yaakov promised he'd do for Hashem if he came back safely to Eretz Yisroel? That's right, Hashem now comes a 'courtin' for the Korbanot (sacrifices) that Yaakov offered to offer. Not another step, Yaakov! Hashem orders him to make a u-turn and head back to Bait Ail to offer those very Korbanot he promised so long ago.

Before they leave for Bait Ail, Yaakov makes an announcement. If anyone has any idols from the spoils of Shimon and Levi's massacre, they'd better get rid of them - bury them in the ground or give them to Yaakov for disposal. With that, the entire household - wives, kids, servants and followers - change into their Shabbat-best togas, in honor of the Korbanot they are about to offer.

When they arrive in Bait Ail, Yaakov gathers stones and builds a Mizbayach (altar). Upon this Mizbayach he offers the Korbanot to Hashem in thanks for a successful departure from Lavan's house, and an eventless meeting with his brother Esav. After all, Yaakov had arrived at Lavan's place a dinar-less boy and left 20 years later a married man with 4 wives, 11 kids and lots of herds and possessions. There is much to be thankful for!


BAD
NEWS
X 3
While in Bait Ail, a greatly loved and trusted member of Yaakov's family dies. She is Devora, Yaakov's mother's nurse. Yaakov buries her under a large tree in Bait Ail. But that¹s not the end of this mourning marathon. Yaakov soon receives another piece of bad news. His mother, Rivka, has died at the age of 121. Hashem uses this moment to comfort Yaakov with a promise that he will have many descendants who will inherit the land of Canaan.

Kever Rachel Yaakov and his family head toward Chevron where his father, Yitzchok, lives. Along the way, near Bait Lechem, Rachel gives birth to her second son, Binyamin. The birth of this second child by Yaakov¹s most beloved wife is a joyous occassion which turns tragic! Rachel dies during childbirth. Yaakov buries Rachel right then and there. He sets up a monument over her grave. This monument is known as 'Kever (the Tomb of) Rachel'. Even today, Jews pray to Hashem at this very spot, with the promise that Rachel will usher our tefilot to shamayim.


AT LAST -
A VISIT
WITH
YITZCHOK
Yitzchok is ecstatic to see his righteous son Yaakov and all his little Tzadiklach. Of course, by now Yitzchok has figured out that Esav's been scamming him all these years. Yitzchok lives to the age of 180.
ESAV'S
BRACHA
The Torah tells us that Esav and his descendants settle in the land of Edom. His family produces lots of kings and rulers who conquer many lands. This is the fulfillment of Yitzchok's bracha (blessing) to Esav: "You will be successful in war."
Now that you know that Esav's bracha came true, I'll bet you can't wait to see how Yaakov's brachot pan out. Well, hold onto your Parsha, because Yaakov's brachot and Hashem's promise to the Avot are still meshing together, laying the foundation for the incredible saga that lies ahead!

Tune in next week when Yaakov's sons put the promise into action in the next exciting episode of:

Parsha on Parade

Midrash Maven
See the Midrash Maven on Vayishlach


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