תש”ף פ’ וישלח
Volume 31, Issue 8
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 Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
עם לבן גרתי
“I have lived with Lavan…” (32:5)
Rashi comments that the word “garti” in this verse has the numerical value of 613, the same as the amount of mitzvot. Yaakov said, “I dwelt with Lavan and kept the commandments, and I did not learn from his bad deeds.” The simplest meaning of this statement is that even someone on the high level of Yaakov could have been influenced negatively and it was a real accomplishment not to have been.
Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman tz”l, however, quotes his Rebbe, the Chafetz Chaim, that this can be understood to mean that Yaakov was finding fault with himself. When Lavan did something improper, he did it with much enthusiasm and energy. Yakkov said about himself that his zeal in doing good did not reach the same level as Lavan’s when he did bad. The Chafetz Chaim used to say that today we need to learn from the enthusiasm and energy of the spiritual descendants of Lavan.
Whenever you see someone running to do something improper, ask yourself if you run to do good as fast as he. Whenever you see someone having joy in doing things for his personal pleasure, try to experience that joy when you engage in spiritual pursuits. (Growth Through Torah)
ויאמר אם יבוא עשו אל המחנה האחת והכהו והיה המחנה הנשאר לפליטה
“If Eisav comes to one camp and attacks it, the remaining camp will survive.” (32:9)
Rashi states that Yaakov prepared himself with three things: a gift, prayer and preparations for a war. These three things that Yaakov prepared are alluded to in the Shema, which guides every Jew in his service to Hashem – “And you shall love Hashem with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might” (Devarim 6:5). With all your heart – this is prayer, the work of the heart. With all your soul – this is the war of man against the evil inclination. With all your might – this is the gift of tzedakah and gemillat chasadim. (Sfas Emes)
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.
The nature of a tzaddik is to be happy with whatever he has and does not desire more. Therefore, Yaakov said, “Whatever I have is what Hashem gave me, and to me it is everything – I do not need more.’” (Kli Yakar)
ויהרגו כל זכר ואת חמור ואת שכם בנו הרגו לפי חרב
“They killed every male. And Chamor and Shechem his son they killed at the point of the sword.” (34:25-26)
Why make special mention of Chamor and Shechem being killed by Shimon and Levi? Weren’t they among “every male” that they killed?
Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskin explains that killing Chamor and Shechem differed from killing the rest of the inhabitants of Shechem. All those males were incapacitated by pain, as it was the third day from their circumcisions. Chamor and Shechem, however, had circumcised themselves immediately when the suggestion was made (as the Torah themselves tells us “And the lad did not delay in doing the thing” 34:19), and so they were already past the third day.
Therefore, when Shimon and Levi attacked the city, all the other males perished without resistance. Chamor and Shechem, however, put up a fight, and they fell in battle. A close reading of the verses corroborates this interpretation: “killed by the sword” always implies death in battle. Here, the Torah tells us that “they killed every male,” but in regard to Chamor and Shechem, it states “they killed by the sword.” All the males were killed without resistance, but Chamor and Shechem were killed in battle. (Torah Anthology)
ויהיו בני יעקב שנים עשר
“The sons of Yaakov were twelve…” (35:22)
Here, for the first time, the Torah states the number twelve to enumerate the children of Israel. This number is engraved in the laws of creation. It appears in the twelve signs of the zodiac, in the twelve months of the year, in the twelve hours of the day, and in the twelve hours of the night. Right from its beginnings, the future Jewish nation was established on the same solid and immutable foundation as that which governs the laws of nature (Bereshit Rabbah 24).
The Torah enumerates the children of Yaakov on sixteen occasions, not always in the same order. This can be explained in the light of Rashi’s comment: “It wants to teach us that all were equal, all were righteous.” (Midrash Rabbah)