Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 24   No. 8

This issue is sponsored
with wishes for a refuah sheleima
for Aharon Meshullam Leib ben Devorah Malka

Parshas Vayishlach

No Reasosn to Hate Ya'ako

"He commanded them saying 'So you shall say to my master Eisav' 'so says your servant Ya'akov, I sojourned with Lavan (im Lavan garti) and I delayed until now' " (32:5).

Rashi offers two explanations to the word "garti".

1. I did not become a prince or an important man, only a sojourner (a temporary resident, without even a permanent home). Consequently, you have no reason to hate me for the b'rachah which your father blessed me, "Be a master over your brother," since it has simply not materialized.

2. "Garti" contains the same letters as "Taryag" (613). Ya'akov was dropping a hint here. "I may have sojourned with the wicked Lavan, yet I still kept all of the taryag mitzvos, and I did not learn from his wicked ways."

The Oznayim la'Torah questions Rashi's second explanation. 'What did Ya'akov hope to achieve with this boast? Did he really expect to impress his brother with his frumkeit? Surely that way of life was something that Eisav scorned?'

What Ya'akov wanted, he replies, was to foil Eisav's plan. He knew exactly that, should Eisav discover that he could not defeat his brother physically, he would switch tactics and attack him spiritually. He would befriend Ya'akov, using his friendship to influence him into changing his Torah life-style, in the way that people are influenced by their neighbours and close associates. Indeed, that is how the Meforshim explain Eisav's attempt to accompany Ya'akov back to their father (33:122).

But Ya'akov had anticipated these tactics. In his prayer to G-d, he had implored G-d to "save me from my brother, from Eisav". "From my brother" - meaning from the dangers of his brotherly love, should his attack take the form of brotherly overtures, and "from Eisav" - should he behave like Eisav ha'Rasha and attack physically. And he had also warned Eisav in no uncertain terms: "I sojourned with the wicked Lavan, yet I kept all the mitzvos". He was making it clear to his brother that he was not easily influenced by his environment, however attractive it might be, and that Eisav was therefore wasting his time. When Eisav nevertheless persisted in his attempts to ensnare Ya'akov spiritually, Ya'akov decided not to take the risk, and politely declined. Or perhaps it was because he did not want to put the spiritual integrity of his wives and children to the test.

We can also perceive Rashi's two explanations as complementing each other. There are after all, two reasons as to why the gentiles hate us: they are jealous of us when our material wealth exceeds theirs, as we find with Yitzchak and Avimelech (Bereishis 26:11 and 27), and, as happened with Avimelech, that jealousy quickly turns into hatred. And they hate us by Divine decree, when we degenerate spiritually, as the Torah warns in the Tochochoh.

The commentaries also explain a contradiction between two pesukim in this way. The Torah first writes (Vayikro 20:25) "And you shall make a distinction between which animals are kosher and which are not", etc. Then in the following pasuk it writes "And I will divide you from the nations to be mine". They explain that initially, it is up to us to distinguish between kosher and non-kosher, what is right and what is wrong. The distinction between us and the gentiles will then be automatic. If however, we fail to make this division, then G-d will be forced to intervene and make it for us. The gentiles will reject us and hate us, and we will have to suffer the consequences.

Ya'akov was therefore informing Eisav that he had no reason to hate him, since neither of the above reasons was currently applicable. He was neither the wealthy man that his father had intimated in his blessings, nor was he guilty of the spiritual decline that would have turned G-d against him and enabled Eisav to vanquish him. "I am only a sojourner on the one hand, and I have kept the whole Torah on the other. Your hatred," he was telling Eisav, "is therefore unjustified and your intention to destroy me is doomed to failure".

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Parshah Pearls
The Chofetz Chayim's Prophecy

"And Ya'akov said, '(Should) Eisav come to the one camp and smite it, then the other camp will escape.' " (32:9)


In the year 5693 (1933), when Hitler (Y.S.) came to power, the Chofetz Chayim was asked by one his Roshei Yeshivah in Radin what would be the lot of the Jews of Germany and Poland, seeing as that rosho had spelt out his intentions of annihilating all Jews (C.V.).

The Chofetz Chayim replied that that goal was unattainable. It was simply not possible to wipe out all Jews, since G-d had promised Ya'akov that even if Eisav succeeded in destroying the one camp, then the second camp would escape.

The Rosh Yeshivah understood from the Chofetz Chayim's words the terrible danger that faced European Jewry - that the rosho would indeed "come to the one camp and smite it", so he asked further where the fugitives would find refuge.

The Chofetz Chayim replied with a pasuk from the Haftarah (Ovadyah 1:7) - "And Har Tziyon will be the place of refuge, and they will be holy" etc. The Rosh Yeshivah went out trembling at the implications of the Chofetz Chayim's prophecy, but with the sure knowledge that Eretz Yisrael would be saved. Sure enough, as soon as the Nazis (Y.S.) attempted to attack Eretz Yisrael, the tide turned against them. The Chofetz Chayim's prophecy, uttered close to ten years before the event, came true.


Flattering the Wicked

"And you shall say," Ya'akov instructed his messengers to tell Eisav, "Your servant Ya'akov is also behind us." (32:21)


The Chofetz Chayim writes that when G-d took Ya'akov to task for lowering his sanctity by referring to himself as "Eisav's servant", he replied that he was flattering the rosho so that he should not kill him. And it is from Ya'akov that we learn to flatter the wicked in this world because of Darkei Sholom. Chazal take Ya'akov to task for subjugating himself before Eisav, especially when G-d had specifically told his mother Rifkah "And the older one will serve the younger one" (Bereishis 25:23). And for the eight times that he referred to himself as Eisav's servant, Eisav merited eight kings before Sha'ul was crowned King of Yisrael.

"The deeds of the fathers are a sign for the children," say Chazal. If Ya'akov had not chosen to belittle himself before Eisav, then it seems, we would have always been Eisav's superiors. It was because Ya'akov did choose to do so (if he had had no choices why did G-d take him to task for that?) that we must now follow in his footsteps and flatter the resho'im in this world.


And His Eleven Children

"And Ya'akov took his two wives etc. and his eleven children, and he crossed the River Yabok" (32:23).


'And where was Dinah?' Rashi quotes a Chazal. He put her in a box to hide her from Eisav's view.

Now, how do Chazal know that it was Dinah who was excluded, asks the G'ro? Maybe Dinah was included in the eleven children, and it was one of the sons who was not counted.

The G'ro discounts this contention by pointing to a Chazal. Chazal say that the Beis ha'Mikdash was built in Binyamin's portion of land because he was the only one of the sons not to have bowed down to any human being. All the other brothers bowed down to Eisav when he met up with Ya'akov in this parshah. Binyamin of course, was not yet born.

Had any of the brothers not bowed down to Eisav, we would still need to justify the building of the Beis ha'Mikdash in Binyamin's portion of land - but that is not necessary if Dinah was the one to be excluded, since as a woman, she did not receive a portion in Eretz Yisrael.

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