Parshat Vayishlach Vol.10 No.13

Date of issue: 19 Kislev 5761 -- December 16, 2000

This week's issue of Kol Torah has been
sponsored by Rabbi Dr. and Mrs. Shmuel
Davidovics in honor of the engagement of their
son Noam to Deena Levine.
Mazel Tov!

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This week's featured writers:

Rabbi Ezra Weiner
Avi Shinnar
Yoni Shenkman
Ilan Tokayer
Craig Yagoda
*Get Shechiv Mera*
Halacha of the Week
Food For Thought
*David Gertler*

The Empty Tent
by Rabbi Ezra Weiner

This week's Parsha is not the first time we encounter the unique spelling of Ahalo ("his tent") as is found in the Pasuk: Vayisa Yisrael Vayet Ahalo Mehala Lemigdal Eider. The replacing of a "Vav" with a "Hey" in the word Ahalo appears originally in Parshat Noach (9:21) and twice in Parshat Lech Lecha (12:8 and 13:3). Rav Hirsch explains that Ahalo (ending with a "Hey," denoting feminine nature) designates the tent that is occupied by both husband and wife in which the wife is the ruler of the household. This was represented in the tents of Noach, Avraham, and as our Parsha relates, Yaakov as well.

However, as Yaakov's love for Rachel was paramount, only the tent that he shared with Rachel merited the title of Ahalo. It is possible, therefore, that immediately following the burial of Rachel the Pasuk above attempts to convey that Yaakov pitched the tent that he could unfortunately no longer share with Rachel far away from the rest of his family and encamped there alone. As long as Rachel was alive, he lived with the other wives as well, but now that she was gone he separated himself from the others. The next Pasuk relates, Vayihi Bishkon Yisrael Baeretz Hahi Vayelech Reuven Vayishcav Et Pilegesh Aviv Vayishma Yisrael, "And it was when Yisrael (Yaakov) settled in the land and Reuven went and slept with [Bilha], his father's concubine, and Yisrael heard."

Reuven, the Bechor of the family, deemed it a necessity, if not an obligation, to demonstrate that Yaakov's abandonment of the tents of his other wives was inappropriate. Reuven therefore slept in Bilha's tent so that his father should realize that although Rachel died, the tents of his other wives are noticeably incomplete and that his absence is having an effect on the entire family. Vayishma Yisrael, Yaakov listened, but emotionally and quite possibly physically remained somewhat apart from his wives. As the Pasuk concludes, Yaakov had twelve sons - once Rachel died, he had no more children.

Be Careful What You Wish For
by Avi Shinnar

"Tzaddikim say, and Hashem brings to pass." This famous statement of Chazal is normally taken to be an assertion of the power of Tzaddikim. While this is undoubtedly true, it is also a responsibility imposed upon them. Hashem causes what Tzaddikim say to come true, whether they mean for it to happen or not. Tanach and Chazal provide many examples of Tzaddikim's words producing unexpected side effects. Of them, three stand out.

In Sefer Bereishit, Yaakov stays and works for Lavan, after which he leaves in stealth. Without his knowledge, Rachel steals Lavan's Terafim, which most commentaries interpret as idols. Lavan chases after Yaakov and upon catching him accuses Yaakov of stealing his Terafim. Yaakov promises death upon the perpetrator; however Rachel, who stole the Terafim, manages to conceal her deed. Rashi (31:32) comments, "And from the same curse, Rachel died on the way." Rashi attributes Rachel's dying during childbirth to Yaakov's curse. Yaakov clearly did not mean to kill his wife! However, this is the responsibility that Tzaddikim carry. They have to be very careful, as their words may have unintended, adverse consequences.

In Sefer Bemidbar Sinai (26:46), the Chumash uncharacteristically includes a woman, Serach bat Asher, in the genealogical list. Ramban explains that this is because she, like the daughters of Tzelafchad, had an inheritance in Israel. Rashi, however, quotes a celebrated Midrash that Serach was accidentally granted eternal life. The Midrash says that when Serach told Yaakov that Yosef was still alive, Yaakov disbelievingly gave her a Beracha that if the news was true she would live forever, and she did. While this is not necessarily a harmful result, it was surely unintended, as Yaakov did not believe Serach.

Another example is found in this week's Parsha. In an effort to part from Esav, Yaakov tells Esav to go ahead, and Yaakov will join him in his land later. Rashi is troubled by this apparent deception of Yaakov and quotes the Midrash, which says that in the times of the Mashiach, Yaakov's children will have to pass through Seir. This again illustrates the idea that what a Tzaddik promises comes to pass, whether intended or not.

One can see from these examples how careful one has to be with his words. The idea the Gemara expresses of "Tzaddikim say, and Hashem brings to pass" is almost a threat. The equivalent English idiom is "Be careful what you wish for: you might get it." This, perhaps, is one reason Chazal are so vehemently against oath taking.

Heavenly Sent
by Yoni Shenkman

In this week's Parsha, Yaakov is on his way home from Lavan's house. On his way back, his messengers come to him with news that Esav is coming towards him with 400 men. Yaakov is frightened and does three things: he sends gifts to Esav, he prays to Hashem to assist him, and he prepares for war.

The Pasuk states, "And Yaakov sent angels ahead of him to his brother Esav in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. And he instructed them as follows..." (Bereishit 32:4). What is the significance of the word "ahead"? Yaakov was the root of Klal Yisrael. The word "ahead" shows that whatever Yaakov did would have an impact on future generations. Since Yaakov knew this, he carefully organized his defense as listed above.

One of thing that Yaakov did was to send angels with gifts to calm Esav. These angels were not there to calm Esav only at that time; rather they are always ready to calm the descendants of Esav (i.e. Amalek). The angels are there to protect us from the evil plans of our enemies. This may be compared to the current conflict in Israel. Many of the Arabs are making evil plans and are angry with us. I hope that the angels that Yaakov sent to protect him from Esav will help protect us, Klal Yisrael, from this group of Arabs.

Behold, The Power of Eretz Yisrael
by Ilan Tokayer

Vayira Yaakov Meod Vayetzer Lo, "And Yaakov became very frightened, and it distressed him" (Bereishit 32:8).

In the beginning of this week's Parsha, Yaakov hears that Esav is coming to greet him, and not knowing if this is for good or bad, Yaakov is afraid. How could Yaakov be afraid if Hashem just promised him that he would be protected? Rashi quotes Bereishit Rabbah, which explains that Yaakov was afraid of Esav because Esav had the Zechut (merit) of living in Eretz Yisrael while Yaakov was in Charan at Lavan's house. Perhaps because of this, Hashem would protect Esav rather than Yaakov.

Rav Shmuel Moholiver, one of the heads of the Chovevei Tzion (religious Zionist) movement of the 19th century, was puzzled by this. A few Pesukim earlier, Yaakov said Im Lavan Garti, "I lived with Lavan," and Rashi comments, based on Gematria, that this means Im Lavan Harasha Garti, Vetaryag (same Hebrew letters as Garti) Mitzvot Shamarti, "I lived with the wicked Lavan, and I still kept all of the Mitzvot." Here, Yaakov, who has performed all of the Mitzvot, is afraid of Esav who has fulfilled the one Mitzva of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael!

From this we can learn the importance of the Mitzva of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael. Yaakov realized that even when a Rasha like Esav does this one Mitzva, he can be compared to a Tzaddik Gamur, a complete Tzaddik, like Yaakov Avinu. If Esav lived in Israel, did not perform other Mitzvot, yet was equated to Yaakov Avinu, then imagine how much greater we would be if we would live in Eretz Yisrael and do keep all of the other Mitzvot!

Halacha of the Week

We should begin to recite Hanerot Halalu immediately after lighting the first candle (Mishna Berura 676:8).

Food for Thought
by David Gertler

1) The number 400 recurs several times in Sefer Bereishit. First, Hashem tells Avraham that Avraham's descendents will spend 400 years in a land that is not theirs (15:13). Second, Avraham bought Maarat Hamachpela from Ephron for 400 Shekalim (23:16). In our Parsha, Yaakov's messengers say that Esav has 400 men with him (32:7). What connection do these three events have?

2) There is a perplexing break in the narrative of the Chumash in 32:33 that forbids us from eating the Gid Hanashe. According to the Sefer Hachinuch this is the third Mitzvah in the Torah (following Pru Urevu and Brit Mila). The Mitzva of Mila is presented as part of the narrative, as Hashem tells Avraham that he and all of his descendents should do Mila. The Mitzva of Pru Urevu is given as part of the narrative except for a one-Pasuk exception. 2:24, parallel to 32:33, states that Al Cain, "because of what happened immediately before," this Mitzva should be done in the future. In 2:24, the mandate is for man to leave his parents' house and marry. Here the Torah says Bnai Yisrael are forbidden from eating the Gid Hanashe because the angel who wrestled with Yaakov struck his hip. Why does Torah find it necessary to break from the narrative in these two cases?

3) 34:1-31 tells the story of Dinah's abduction, rape, and rescue. At the end of the story, Shimon and Levi argue with Yaakov that they acted properly, and Yaakov does not respond to their final argument. Does this imply that Yaakov agreed with them? (See the Beracha given by Yaakov in Vayechi (49:5-7), its fulfillment in Sefer Bemidbar Sinai 1:49 and 25:1-5, the Berachot of Shimon and Levi in Devarim 33, and the parts of the land that Shimon and Levi each received.)

If you have a response to these questions, please contact us at Responses may be published upon agreement of the provider.

Staff at time of publication:
Editors-in-Chief: Avi-Gil Chaitovsky, Dani Gross
Managing Editor: Moshe Glasser
Publication Editor: Daniel Wenger
Business Manager: Ilan Tokayer
Staff: Josh Dubin, Zev Feigenbaum, Shuky Gross, Michael Humphrey, Yair Manas, Uriel Schechter
Consultant: David Gertler
Faculty Advisor: Rabbi Howard Jachter

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