Torah Tidbits

20 April 2014 / 20 Nisan 5774
Issue 1023
Shabbat Parshat Vayishlach
November 29, 2012

Aliya-by-Aliya Sedra Summary

Aliya by Aliya Sedra Summary

[P> X:Y (Z)] and [S> X:Y (Z)] indicate start of a parsha p’tucha or s’tuma. X:Y is Perek:Pasuk of the beginning of the parsha; (Z) is the number of p’sukim in the parsha.
Numbers in [square brackets] are the Mitzva-count of Sefer HaChinuch AND Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvot. A=ASEI (positive mitzva); L=LAV (prohibition). X:Y is the perek and pasuk from which the mitzva comes.

Kohen - First Aliya 10 p’sukim - 32:4-13
[P> 32:4 (47)] Yaakov sends messengers to his brother Eisav with a message of conciliation (and warning?).
SDT: Onkeles seems to consider the messengers that Yaakov sent to be human (IZGADIN are runners or messengers); Rashi states that the word MAL’ACHIM is to be taken literally, as heavenly angels. Commentaries point to the end of last week’s sedra (which tells of Yaakov’s encountering the “camps” of angels upon his return to Eretz Yisrael) as support for Rashi’s point of view. Bartenura further explains that Biblical references to angels always include something they said or a prophetic message. When Yaakov encountered the angels, nothing is said. It could be argued, that the Torah mentioned the angels in connection with Yaakov’s sending them to Eisav. Other commentaries say that Yaakov sent angels because humans might be affected by Eisav and angels would be able to “read” the situation accurately. One Chassidic Master put it this way: When a Jew is facing a threat from an Eisav-type and needs help, he may even bother heavenly angels for their support.
SDT: One of Yaakov’s statements was that he had been living with Lavan and was delayed until now. Rashi learns, that “he lived with Lavan but did not learn from his evil ways”. Some see this as a compliment to Yaakov, that he was able to maintain his complete adherence to the Torah in such an alien atmosphere. Others see an implied criticism: All those years in Lavan’s home, and he did not learn from Lavan’s evil ways… how to channel the cunning and enthusiasm he witnessed towards his own service of G-d. There are lessons to be learned even by negative example.
Yaakov announces to Eisav that he has “oxen, donkeys, sheep, and servants”.
SDT: Why does Yaakov tell this to Eisav? Is he boasting about wealth that he has amassed in Lavan’s house? No, just the opposite. Yaakov is telling Eisav that although he has much material wealth and large flocks and herds, he does not have land. He has not (yet) benefited from the blessing (that Eisav felt should have been his) of “from the dew of the heavens and the fertility of the ground…” Therefore, Yaakov hoped that Eisav would not be angry with him.
Put it this way: Yaakov is, so far, blessed with the “Shehakol” type of wealth. The other 5 of the 6 brachot for food are all related to that which comes from the ground, the blessings of TAL HASHAMAYIM & SH’MANEI HA’ARETZ, that Yaakov has not yet received.
The report of Eisav’s pending arrival with 400 men prompts Yaakov into three modes of action. He first divides his camp into two, so that one will be able to escape if the other is attacked. Then he prays to G-d for His help and the fulfillment of promises made. (the third phase is in the next portion.)
SDT: Commentaries point out that Yaakov asks G-d to save him “from my brother - from Eisav”. This is not a redundancy. The Jew faces two enemies: The Eisavs of the world who would destroy the Jewish people, and the “friendly brothers” who would gladly permit us to assimilate into their cultures - thereby also bringing about the destruction of the Jewish People. Yaakov prays for salvation from both threats.
Similarly, in the very first pasuk of the sedra, Yaakov sends the angels (or messengers) to his BROTHER EISAV. Yaakov is always aware that Eisav is both, and he must be weary of both persona.
The Beit HaLevi puts it this way. Danger #1 is war. Danger #2 is a treaty with Eisav that can also be disastrous. Does this say anything to us today?

Levi - Second Aliya 17 p’sukim - 32:14-30
Yaakov next prepares elaborate gifts from his flocks and herds for Eisav to be delivered with a goodwill message of appeasement.
SDT: Baal HaTurim points out that there are two p’sukim in the Torah in which every word ends with a “final mem”. Here in Vayishlach (32:15): 200 she-goats, 20 he-goats… and BaMidbar (29:33): And their (referring to sacrifices) flour-oil offerings, their wine of libation, for the oxen… Is there a connection? Baal HaTurim shares an amazing calculation with us. Yaakov sent 550 animals as an appeasement to Eisav, even though G-d had assured him that He would protect him. Yaakov’s descendants were destined to offer 550 animals per year as Musaf sacrifices. (Ed. note: The number of Shabbatot in a year vary from 50-55; Rosh Chodeshes can be 12 or 13. Chagim are the same for all years. Animals of Chagim Musaf total 307. Shabbat Musaf will add 100-110; Rosh Chodesh adds 132-143. Totals therefore range from 539 to 560 with an average somewhere around 550, as the Baal HaTurim says.)
He instructs his servants what to say when they meet up with Eisav.
During the night before his encounter with Eisav, Yaakov finds himself alone. (This is one of the sources for the rule that a person should not go out alone at night.)
SDT: Commentaries tell us that Yaakov returned across the Yabok to retrieve small flasks of oil that had been left behind. Some say this was the oil with which he anointed the altar and monuments, and that this flask of oil was the antecedent of the sole flask of oil found by the Chashmona’im centuries later. (Take this literally or figuratively - as you wish. The point is still valid.)
Yaakov battles with an ISH (a “man”, whom we are taught is the guardian angel of Eisav). Yaakov prevails in this struggle but is injured. He receives an unusual blessing from the angel in the form of an additional name - Yisrael.
SDT: Yaakov asks the angel who has wrestled with him to give him a bracha. Rashi says that he was asking that the angel acknowledge the brachot that Yaakov had received from Yitzchak, which Yitzchak had intended to give to Eisav. Perhaps what prompts Rashi to this explanation rather than the situation being simply that Yaakov was asking for a new bracha, is the unusual word BEI-RACH-TANI (which relates to the past) and not BOR’CHEINI (bless me now). Some say that the ISH he wrestled with was himself, reflecting the inner turmoil and mixed feelings he had about his “history” with Eisav.
Note that the angel does not declare that Yaakov will no longer be his name, but rather Yisrael. He does say that it will no longer be said that he is a “Yaakov” (one who holds onto his brother’s heel to hold him back) but rather he will referred to as Yisrael, the one who prevailed before G-d and man.
Unlike Avraham, whose previous name is no longer used after he is renamed Avraham, Yaakov carries both names. In fact, the second word after the angel’s declaration of the new name is Yaakov. Similarly, when G-d confirms the name Yisrael upon Yaakov, he (Yaakov) is still called Yaakov, and sometimes Yisrael. This is the flavor of Rashi’s commentary on LO YAAKOV, which he explains thus: People will no longer call you “the one who held your brother back”, but they will acknowledge you as having justly prevailed.

Shlishi - Third Aliya 8 p’sukim - 32:31-33:5
MitzvaWatch
The perennial battle between Eisav and Yaakov, which this battle typifies, is “commemorated” by the prohibition of “Gid HaNasheh” [3,L183 32:33]. Even though the Torah introduces this mitzva in the context of the story, the mitzva is part of the Revelation at Sinai, as if it would have said (later in the Torah): “And G-d spoke to Moshe saying - command the People not to eat the Gid…” The only “negative” mitzva in the book of B’reishit is this prohibition against eating the “Gid HaNasheh”. Removal of the “gid” and its innervating branches in the thigh and leg of the animal, as well as the fats and flesh in the area, is required, and difficult. Further problems result from blood vessels that must be removed from that part of the animal’s body. The process of removal of the GID and other vessels is known as “Nikur” (Heb.) or “treibering” (Yiddish). It is, in most cases, not economically feasible to remove the “gid”. The whole hind section of the animal is generally sold as non-kosher (thereby removing the GID from the rest of the animal’s body). This is the common practice in the U.S. In Israel, however, where there is not so readily available a non-kosher market, nikur is more common. This means that some fancy hind cuts of meat are available to the kosher consumer, such as Tenderloin, sirloin, porter-house, T-bone.
Yaakov sees Eisav and his men coming; he pushes his family behind him and repeatedly bows to his brother. Eisav runs towards him embraces him, k*i*s*s*e*s* him, and weeps.
SDT: Mishlei 24:16 says: For a righteous person will fall seven times and rise up… Baal HaTurim relates this pasuk to Yaakov’s bowing 7 times before Eisav.
Finally, Yaakov and Eisav - brothers, twins! - are face to face, and Eisav runs towards Yaakov and embraces him, hugs him, and kisses him. Asterisks on the word VAYISHAKEI- HU. The Scribal custom is calling our attention to something important. A message we dare not overlook or ignore. Rashi presents us with two opinions: The dots tell us that the kiss was not sincere because of his hatred… or, even though Eisav hates Yaakov, at this moment he was overcome by genuine feelings of brotherly love and kissed him with all his heart. Note that both opinions accept the fact of life of the eternal hatred of the Eisavs of the world for the Yaakovs (us) - they just dispute this particular kiss.
Eisav asks about the women and children and Yaakov prepares to introduce his family to Eisav.

R’vi’i - Fourth Aliya 15 p’sukim - 33:6-20
Yaakov humbles (humiliates?) himself before Eisav as he presents his family to him, all of whom bow to Eisav. Yaakov presented his wives and 11 children.
SDT: Why did Yaakov hide Dina from Eisav? Some explain that Yaakov did not want Eisav to take Dina as a wife and thereby subject her to his wickedness. For this, Yaakov was punished, because Dina might have been (probably would have?) a positive influence in Eisav’s life. (The very next portion of the Torah tells us of the kidnap and rape of Dina and the subsequent debacle of the revenge exacted by Shimon and Levi.) Commentaries ask whether Yaakov should be praised, rather than punished, for protecting Dina. Bartenura says that Yaakov’s reason for hiding Dina was not the fear of anything negative happening to her, but the fear that she would succeed in reforming Eisav, which would make him worthy of the blessing that he would dominate his brother.
Eisav asks about the groups of animals that he met on his way. Eisav at first refuses to accept the gifts, but eventually takes them. Then Eisav suggests that he and Yaakov join together. Yaakov adamantly refuses.
NOTE: At first, Yaakov seems to want to avoid antagonizing Eisav, even to the point of humbling himself before his brother. However, when the possibility of subjecting his family to the influences of Eisav is at issue, Yaakov boldly risks confrontation. Strong lesson for us to learn well. When we would be weaker and vulnerable, it would be folly to agree. (The one who understands will understand.)
[S> 33:18 (3)] Yaakov travels to the Sh’chem area where he purchases land and builds a Mizbei’ach.
The land that Yaakov purchased was later used for the burial of Yosef’s remains.

Chamishi 5th Aliya 42 p’sukim - 34:1-35:11
[S> 34:1 (31)] Dina (who had been hidden from Eisav) now goes out to explore the “local attractions”. She is kidnapped and raped by Sh’chem who then falls in love with her. His father proposes an alliance with Yaakov’s family for the purpose of intermarriage and fusing of their cultures. Shimon and Levi trick Sh’chem and his people into circumcising themselves. When the people are weakened, Shimon and Levi kill them to avenge what was done to Dina. Yaakov is upset at what they have done (perhaps not - some commentaries say he was upset at not being consulted in the first place), but they defend their actions.
[P> 35:1 (8)] G-d tells Yaakov to move to Beit-El and build an altar there. Yaakov rids his household of idols. G-d prevents the locals from pursuing Yaakov and family to avenge the killing of the people of Sh’chem.
Rivka’s nurse Devora dies and is buried. (There is a Tradition that Rivka died at this point too. Some suggest that the Torah was silent about Rivka’s death because Yaakov was not around to tend to her burial, only Eisav was.)
Who was D’vora, the nursemaid of Rivka? Why does she rate mention by name? Why is her death mentioned? It has been suggested that she was one of Avraham and Sara’s “converts”, but that they purposely did not take her when they went to Eretz Yisrael, with “the souls they had made in Charan”. Rather, they left her as a tutor for Rivka, someone to teach her and influence her to become worthy and fitting to be Yitzchak’s wife and one of the Matriarchs of the Jewish People.
[P> 35:9 (14)] G-d appears once again to Yaakov and blesses him. He confirms the new name Yisrael (which is used alongside the name Yaakov, each name having different connotations).

Shishi - Sixth Aliya 37 p’sukim - 35:12-36:19
G-d reiterates His promise of the Land to Yaakov and his descendants. Yaakov erects another monument to mark the place at which G-d appeared to him. Rachel gives birth to Binyamin (11th of Marcheshvan) and dies in childbirth. She thanks G-d with her dying breath for her having a second son. She is buried on the “road to Efrata” and her burial place is marked “even unto this day”.
Reuven [UNTRANSLATED] Bilha…
SDT: The Gemara states: Anyone who thinks that Reuven actually slept with Bilha, as the literal translation of the pasuk would indicate, is grossly mistaken. Some say that Reuven moved Yaakov’s bed from the tent of Bilha - where Yaakov had placed it after Rachel’s death - into his mother’s (Leah’s) tent. The Torah’s cryptic description of what he did is considered a sharp rebuke of his actions, which were disrespectful to his father. Nonetheless, he was motivated by protective jealousy for his mother Leah. The Mishna states that when the Torah was translated into Aramaic during public Torah reading, this pasuk was not translated. It was read, but it was left without TIRGUM so as not to mislead and confuse the people. This is a glaring example (of which there are many more, as well as subtle ones) of the inability to understand the Written Word without its inseparable partner, the Oral Torah. This is so for “story” parts of the Torah, as well as Halachic texts. This is the tragedy of the nations of the world clutching their bibles and thinking that they hold in their hands the Word of G-d. They hold only part of the Word of G-d which is so easily misunderstood and perverted in the absence of its Oral component.
[P> 35:23 (7)] ...the sons of Yaakov are 12.
SDT: This statement is part of the same pasuk (although it begins a new parsha) as the statement about Reuven’s deed. This is considered proof of the Talmudic statement mentioned above. Had Reuven actually sinned in the literal sense of the pasuk, he would not immeditely be acknowledged as one of the sons of Yaakov, he would have been ostracized, or worse. Additionally, he is identified as Yaakov’s B’CHOR in the very next pasuk.
Yaakov’s sons are enumerated. Yaakov returns to his father’s home. Yitzchak dies at 180 and is buried by Yaakov and Eisav.
[P> 36:1 (19)] Eisav’s descendants are enumerated.
The fact that this is done at this point in the Torah, before the Torah continues with the accounts of the family of Yaakov seems to say: Let’s finish up with Eisav first, before we continue with the important line of descent. Eisav is a force in this world, but he is not the reason for its existence.
Another reason: it might serve as a rebuke for Yaakov’s humbling himself before Eisav. Call him your master and you his servant, says G-d, then I will establish him and his line of royalty in their own land many years before you and your descendants are ready for nationhood and their own kings.

Sh’VII Seventh Aliya 24 p’sukim - 36:20-43
[S> 36:20 (11)] The Torah continues with the descendants of Se’ir the Chori. These are people who lived in Edom before Eisav’s clan received it. Eisav married Oholivama of Se’ir and Eisav’s eldest son Elifaz took as a concubine, Timna from Se’ir. Eisav “had a life” in Canaan, and then when the clan moved to Se’ir, there are other wives and sons who become family heads.
[P> 36:31 (13)] Finally, the Torah enumerates the kings that ruled the city-states of Eisav/ Edom/Se’ir, “even before there ruled a king in Israel”. Israel must still go through many stages of refinement and pass through many trials and tribulations before they are to emerge as The People of Israel.

Haftara 21 p’sukim - Book(let) of Ovadya
The ongoing battle between Yaakov and Eisav is the main theme of the prophecy of Ovadya. The prophecy focuses on the ultimate judgment that Eisav’s descendants face; G-d will emerge as the true King of all. The Haftara “answers” the question raised in the sedra as to what are the real feelings of Eisav to Yaakov.


Trade & Commerce of the Talmid Chacham - I Am HaShem your Healer [2] by Dr. Meir Tamari

“G-d placed Adam in the Garden, to guard it and work it” (B’reishit 2:15); “All Creation asked, ‘Hashem, before we were created we were connected with You, but now who will be our connection’? ’ Adam, who I, Hashem, created will be our connection” (Admor of Itzbitza).
These verses show Man as a partner with Hashem in all his creative, economic, and social activities, except those connected with medicine and health services since these are solely in His Hands. “Out of the mouth of the Most High proceeds both evil and good (Eicha 3:38); I kill and I make alive, I wound and I heal and there is no one [or nothing] that can deliver out of My Hand” (D’varim 32:39); “If you will obey My voice, do that which is correct, observe My commandments and keep all My statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I placed on Mitzrayim, for I am Hashem your healer” (Sh’mot 15:26).
The whole role and existence of human healers becomes thereby questionable, perhaps even illegitimate, which would seem to make medical issues purely fatalistic. According to these views, which exist in many faiths and religious frameworks, seeking a physician’s help would be a denial of G-d’s power. However, Rabbi Yishmael taught, “it is written, ‘if one strikes his fellow so that he falls into bed, the striker shall pay [for his lost time] and he must surely provide for healing; V’RAPO Y’RAPEI (Sh’mot 21:19). From here we learn that the physician is permitted to heal” (B’rachot 60a). It is consistent and instructive that the root of the Hebrew term for doctor, rofeh, means to assuage or to alleviate; other languages either identify him with a magician, miracle man or a possessor of knowledge.
This Jewish understanding of the medical profession as merely a conduit for the knowledge and healing ability that belong solely to G-d, would seem to question the physician’s right to payment and fees, just like the teachers of adults of the Torah which was given to Israel gratis. “Every person is obligated to assist in the return of a lost article, which also includes the restitution of one’s lost health. A person is thus fulfilling a mitzva, an obligation for which he should not expect any earthly reward, just as the judge or teacher of the Divine word receives no payment. However, already in Temple times, when the official functions became so onerous, the judges were   given a stipend from its treasury since they required something for their sustenance (Yoreh Deiah, section 336). By the same reasoning teachers and doctors are allowed remuneration, otherwise learning and health services would cease. One could not expect people to renounce every occupation that provides parnassa in order to teach or heal. However, the remuneration of the doctor is not for the advice he gives, that knowledge is Hashem’s, but for the loss of time during which he could otherwise earn a living. In contrast, the commerce of the druggist is like that of any artisan or trader, so he may earn just like others in the market place.
Whatever the case regarding doctors fees may be, medicine and health matters differ from almost all economic goods in that the patient, unlike other types of consumers, has very little freedom regarding goods, price or supplier, since the dictates of his illness may be life threatening so that he would be forced to do or pay anything. This is exactly the same scenario regarding food and drink in times of war, drought or scarcity and it would seem that health practitioners should be especially aware at all times of Chazal’s warnings, “the hoarders and speculators of produce, the price gougers, those who lend money at interest and the users of false weights and measure are of whom Amos foretold, ‘the Lord has sworn that He will never forget their actions’” (Baba Batra 91a).
“Rabbi Yishmael and Rabbi Akiva were approached by a sick person and responded to his request for medical advice. A farmer rebuked them saying, “G-d afflicted him and you wish to heal him?” They replied, “G-d created the earth yet you have to plow, till, fertilize and weed if you wish to get produce. A man’s days are like grass; his body is grass, the medicine is fertilizer and the physician the tiller” (Medrash Shmuel, Tehillim 103). This role of the physician as a shaliach of Hashem and the importance of pikuach nefesh, are reflected in the great number of physicians among Gedolei Torah throughout the centuries.

Adapted from “Shem MiShmuel”; Meir Tamari, Weekly Torah Portion


MISC section - contents:
[1] Vebbe Rebbe
[2] Candle by Day
[3] From Aloh Naaleh
[4] Parsha Points to Ponder
[5] Portion from the Portion
[6] From Machon Puah
[7] Person in the Parsha
[8] Maharal on the Sedra
[9] Gold From the Land of Israel
[10] OzTorah
[11] Guest Article
[12] Unlocking the Torah Text
[13] Divrei Menachem

 

 

 

 

 

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