Weekly Portion: Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4 – 36:43)

On the trip back to Canaan, Jacob meets his brother Esau; Jacob wrestles with the angel. Then they arrive in Shechem; Shechem, the son of Chamor the Hivite, (heir to the town of Shechem) rapes Jacob’s daughter, Dina; Dina’s brothers, Shimon and Levy, massacre the men of Shechem; Rebecca (Rivka) dies; G-d gives Jacob an additional name, “Israel,” and reaffirms the blessing to Avraham that the land of Canaan (Israel) will be given to his descendants; Rachel dies after giving birth to Benjamin (Binyomin); Jacob’s 12 sons are listed; Isaac dies; Esau’s lineage is recorded as is that of Seir the Horite; and lastly … the succession of the Kings of Edom is chronicled.

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Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Before encountering his evil brother, Esav, Jacob divided all that he had into two camps. The Torah states:

“And (Jacob) said ‘If Esau will come to one camp and smite it, the remaining camp will be saved’ ” (Genesis 32:9).

What lesson do we learn from Jacob’s action?

Rashi, the great commentator, tells us that Jacob had three strategies to deal with the threat from his brother: 1) he sent gifts to appease him 2) he prayed for Divine assistance 3) he prepared for war.

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz points out that Jacob did not rely on his righteousness; he made every humanly effort possible. The forefathers kept to natural laws in dealing with life situations. After all, the laws of nature are the Almighty’s laws (He did set up the universe!). This is our goal — to do all that is in our power, but to realize that our success ultimately depends upon the Almighty.


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