פ’ וישלח – תשע”ה
Volume 6, Issue 8
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
כה תאמרון לאדני לעשו כה אמר עבדך יעקב עם לבן גרתי
“Thus shall you say to my lord, Eisav: ‘thus said your servant Yaakov: I have sojourned with Lavan.’” (32:5)
QUESTION: Rashi comments: “The letters of ‘garti’ (גרתי) correspond numerically to 613, that is, ‘with Lavan the wicked I sojourned (גרתי), but the 613 (תרי”ג) Commandments I observed, and I did not learn from his evil deeds.’”
Rashi’s words, “I did not learn from his evil deeds,” are seemingly redundant. If he observed 613 mitzvot, is it not obvious that Lavan had no influence over him?
ANSWER: Yaakov was not expressing satisfaction for not learning from Lavan’s evil deeds. On the contrary, he was expressing his dissatisfaction and frustration. Yaakov sent a message to Eisav: “I lived in the home of Lavan for twenty years, during which I observed how enthusiastically he performed his sins. Though I fulfilled 613 mitzvot, I did not apply his level of excitement to my Torah and mitzvot.” Yaakov humbly said: “If only I would have performed mitzvoth with the excitement and vigor with which he performed his sins!”
The Chidushei HaRim (first Reebe of Ger) once said concerning missionaries: “If we were able to work for the emet (spreading Torah and Yiddishkeit) with an emet (sincerity), like they work for the sheker (falsehood) with an emet, we would experience immediate success.” (R’ Meir Shapiro M’Lublin)
הצלני נא אחי מיד עשו
“Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Eisav…” (32:12)
Yaakov feared not only “the hand of Eisav” but, equally, “the hand of my brother,” of his holding out the right hand of friendship, of his excessive cordiality.
The “hand of Eisav” imperils Yaakov physically, but even more alarming than that is “the hand of my brother,” his brotherhood, which exposes the spirit and soul of Yaakov to mortal danger. (Beis Halevi)
ויאמר לא יעקב יאמר עוד שמך כי אם ישראל
“He said, ‘No longer will it be said that your name is Jacob, but Israel…’” (32:29)
The Tashbatz (Rabbi Shimshon ben Tzadok), a disciple of the Maharam (Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg), writes that the name ישראל, Yisrael, forms an acrostic of the initials of all the names of the Avos and Imahos. The yud stands for Yitzchak and Yaakov, the sin for Sarah, the reish for Rivkah and Rachel, the aleph, for Avraham and the lamed for Leah. The entire name Yisrael represents Klal Yisrael. (Chomas Anoch)
ויאמר עשו יש לי רב…ויאמר יעקב…קח נא את ברכתי…וכי יש לי כל
“And Eisav said, ‘I have a lot,’ and Yaakov said, ‘Please accept my gift…because I have everything.’” (33:9-11)
QUESTION: Why did Eisav say, “I have a lot” while Yaakov said, “I have everything”?
ANSWER: Yaakov was a righteous person, and Eisav was wicked. The wicked are never fully satisfied. Therefore, Eisav said, “I have a lot.” He was insinuating that though he did have much wealth, he was not content because he did not have it all. Conversely, the nature of a tzaddik is to be happy with whatever he has and not desire more. Therefore, Yaakov said, “Whatever I have is what Hashem gave me, and to me it is everything – I do not need any more.” (Kli Yakar)
ויבאו על העיר בטח ויהרגו כל זכר
“They came upon the city confidently and killed every male.” (34:25)
QUESTION: Why were Shimon and Levi confident that they would succeed?
ANSWER: Shechem wanted very much to marry Dinah. The sons of Yaakov agreed to the marriage on the condition that all the men of the city undergo a brit and be circumcised like Jews. Shimon and Levi knew very well that if they would attack non-Jews, the residents of all cities around them would make an uproar and come to their rescue. Once they were circumcised, the entire world would consider them as members of the Jewish population and look aside when Jews were being killed. This sad truth was Shimon and Levi’s source of confidence, a truth that persists even today. (R’ Yonatan Eibshetz)
ויצב יעקב מצבה…היא מצבת קברת רחל עד היום
“Yaakov set up a monument…it is the monument of Rachel’s grave until today.” (35:20)
Yaakov set up this monument over the grave of our mother Rachel so that future generations of Klal Yisrael would know where to come and pour out their hearts in prayer. Indeed, we are taught that it is for this reason that Rachel was buried on the roadside – so that on the way to the exile her children would be able to beseech her to pray on their behalf. The numerical value of קול, voice, representing the voice of prayer, is 136. The numerical value of מצבה, monument, is 137, one more than that of קול, the voice of prayer. The additional “one” alludes to Rachel, who adds her voice to those who pray at her monument. (Kol Dodi)
ויגוע יצחק וימת ויאסף אל עמיו זקן ושבע ימים
“And Yitzchak expired and died and was gathered unto his people, old and full of days.” (35:29)
The Torah’s account of Yitchak’s death is different than that of Avraham’s death. In relating Avraham’s death, the Torah states, ויגוע וימת אברהם בשיבה טובה זקן ושבע ויאסף אל עמיו – “And Avraham expired and died at a good, old age, old and content, and he was gathered unto his people.” (25:8). Why, in relating Avraham’s death, does the word וימת, and (he) died, precede Avraham’s name, while concerning Yitzchak, it mentions וימת after Yitzchak’s name?
Horav Moshe Feinstein z.l., explains that Yishmael repented prior to Avraham’s death. Consequently, the torah states that Avraham died b’seivah tovah, in a good old age. He lived to see both of his sons live a virtuous life. They followed in his Torah path. The mention of his good name and exalted reputation filled them with pride. Indeed, Avraham lived on through the legacy he imparted to his sons. For this reason Avraham’s death is mentioned before his name.
Yitzchak, however, did not have nachas from both of his sons. Just as Yaakov reflected his ideals and values, Eisav represented the antithesis of everything in which Yitzchak believed. Upon viewing Eisav and his invidious lifestyle, one would never have realized that he was Yitzchak’s son. In recounting Yitzchak’s death, therefore, the Torah mentions וימת, he died, after his name, for as far as his son Eisav was concerned, Yizchak had died. (Drash Moshe)
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