Posted by: mosesfromsinai | November 30, 2009

Vayeeshlach – Being Well Prepared

This week’s Torah reading, Vayeeshlach, teaches all of us the lesson to be well prepared in facing difficult situations.

Yakov is about to meet up with his brother, Esav.  Yakov’s reason for leaving “town” was to escape from Esav.  Esav  wanted to kill Yakov and indeed sent his son. Eliphaz, to take care of Yakov.  (Keep in mind that Esav is Rome, so here we perhaps see the early development of the Italian Mafia).  Yakov has to find ways to survive when he will shortly meet up with Esav.

The Torah describes 3 separate preparations that every Jew must undergo when dealing with a life threatening challenge;  give a gift or gifts, prepare for conflict (Yakov divided his camp into 2 groups so that at least 1 would escape and thus survive), and pray as did Yakov (note that Yakov was also concerned that he might end up killing Esav in battle and this would not be a good way of returning home to his father, Yitzchak.  One could just imagine Yitzchak asking Yakov about all the various things that occured to Yakov during his long absence from home and Yakov having to report, “oh, and finally, I killed Esav, my brother, your son, just before I got home” – that would not go over so well.)

Moses sits back and watches as Esav arrives with his 400 armed men.  (Even if Moses had popcorn while “upstairs”  this part would be too exciting to pause and snack on).  Well, as it turns out, Yakov was successful in avoiding conflict and bloodshed.   When they meet, Yakov and Esav kiss each other and cry.  There are many different views as to why they kissed and cried.  One view, that Moses can relate to is that Esav wanted to bite Yakov so he faked kissing him and went for Yakov’s neck.  A miracle occurred and Yakov’s neck turned hard as marble.  Esav broke some teeth and thus he cried whle Yakov was crying in agony from the neck becoming so hard.  (Moses remembers the time when his neck became hard just before Pharoh wanted to have Moses’s head cut off for killing an Egyptian officer.)  Others see this as a true moment of brotherly love, though indeed rare in the case of Esav.  Whatever the case may have been, and there could have been mixed emotions between the two of them – sort of a love – hate feeling, the conflict was avoided and Yakov and Esav parted on good terms.

One minor detail that should be pointed out,  prior to Yakov meeting up with Esav, Yakov does battle with an angel.  (At least Moses got to see some excitement in the wrestling match that took place –  That could have made some good money on Paid Per View TV – Yakov The Hebrew vs The Mighty Angel.)  The angel is unable to defeat Yakov, and ends up inflicting a wound in Yakov’s thigh.  (This brings about the prohibition of eating the Gid Hanasha – the sciatica nerve in an animal’s hind quarter).  On the positive side, this showed that Esav would not overpower Yakov.  In addition Yakov will be given a special name, Yisroel, showing that Yakov was the proper recipient of the Special Blessings from Yitzchak and not Esav.

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