by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS VA'YISHLACH 5771 BS"D
Ch. 32, v. 4: "Va'yishlach Yaakov malochim" - And Yaakov sent angels - Rashi explains that "malochim" should be literally understood as angels, "malochim mamash." Rashi's explanation to take this literally should have been expressed as "malochim kipshuton" or the like. What does he mean with the word "mamash?" Rabbi Meir of Premishlan explains that Yaakov created the angels that he sent. The mishnoh in Pirkei Ovos 4:11 says that when a person does a mitzvoh he creates for himself a defending angel and when ch"v he sins he creates a prosecuting angel. Yaakov sent a message to Eisov that he safeguarded all 613 mitzvos, and through them he created the angels that he sent. The choice of the word "MaMaSH" is an acronym for "Malochim Mimitzvos She'ossoh."
Ch. 32, v. 5: "Im Lovon garti" - With Lovon have I sojourned - Rashi says that the use of the word "garti" alludes to Yaakov's sending the message to Eisov that "taryag mitzvos shomarti v'lo lomadti mimaasov horo'im," I have safeguarded the 613 mitzvos and I have not learned from his bad actions. Isn't it obvious that once Yaakov has kept the 613 mitzvos he did not learn to copy Eisov's behaviour? There are actions that clearly run afoul of the law and there are those that are not technically sins. Nevertheless, they should not be done because they bring to sin or a general lowering of one's sanctity. Although this might be a gray area, by taking note of the actions that a rosho adheres to we have a strong indication of what is not correct to do although not an outright sin. This is the intention of these words in Rashi. I have kept the 613 mitzvos. "V'lo," and that which is a no-no, although not actually a sin, "lomadti mimaasov horo'im," I learned to avoid by taking note of Lovon's negative actions. (Rabbi Ben Zion Halberstam Admor of Bobov)
Ch. 32, v. 8: "Va'yeero Yaakov m'ode va'yeitzer lo" - And Yaakov feared greatly and it anguished him - Rashi explains that he feared greatly that he might be killed, and he was anguished by the thought that he might kill others, i.e. Eisov. Why did this second possibility stress him so much? There is an axiom in the gemara Sanhedrin 72a that when one comes to kill you, you should attempt to beat him to it and if necessary kill him. The Dubner Magid answers with a parable. A king had an advisor who was able to divine through star gazing. The advisors unusual skills were invaluable to the king and in appreciation of the services rendered the king rewarded him very generously. This raised the jealousy of a number of other people on the king's staff and they told the king that they were certain that the star gazer had in mind to depose the king by no less a tactic than killing him. The king took this very seriously and called his formerly invaluable advisor for a meeting. The king asked him when he would die, given that he had the key to knowledge of the future. The question caught the star gazer off guard and coupled with the grim look on the king's face he realized that he was in big trouble. Not losing his wits he came back with the response that he did not have clarity about the actual date but he did know that it would be the same day as the demise of the king. The king, knowing that the advisor had hit it right all other times took this very seriously and did not carry out his plan of having the advisor put to death.
Rivkoh told Yaakov, "Lomoh eshkal gam shneichem yom echod." The gemara Sotoh 13 explains that this was a prophecy that Yaakov and Eisov would both die on the same day. Yaakov was also extremely afraid of having to kill Eisov because he would also die on the same day, based on his mother Rivkoh's prophecy.
Ch. 32, v. 12: "Hatzileini noh mi'yad ochi mi'yad Eisov" - Please save me from the hand of my brother from the hand of Eisov - Eisov symbolizes the evil inclination. Yaakov aske Hashem for assistance in staving off the enticement to sin when it is an obvious Eisov, a sin, and also from the hand of "ochi," a seemingly positive act. One of the greatest weapons in the arsenal of the evil inclination is having a person believe that what he is about to embark upon is a mitzvoh, when it is actually a sin. (Kedushas Levi)
Ch. 32, v. 13: "V'atoh omarto heiteiv eitiv imoch" - And You said I will surely do good to you - A person should always respond in a positive manner when asked how things are going with him. If matters are going well he should surely respond "B"H well." Even if things are not going well he should respond "B"H improving," even if it has not yet improved. Just verbalizing this opens channels of positive responses from Above. Hashem does not want to disappoint a person who truly relies upon Him. This is alluded to in these words of our verse. "V'atoh omarto heiteiv," and if you said that it goes well, then I, Hashem, will respond with "eitiv imoch." (Raabi Osher of Karlin)
Ch. 33, v. 5: "Va'yar es ho'anoshim v'es ha'y'lodim va'yomer mi eileh loch va'yomer ha'y'lodim asher chonan Elokim es avdecho " - And he saw the adults and the children and he said who are these to you and he said they are the children that Elokim has kindly bestowed upon your servant - The Ramban raise sthe question of why Yaakov did not respond about his wives. He answers that Yaakov felt it was not becoming to discuss women and once he said that the children were his it would be self-understood that the women were his wives. The Imrei Emes answers this question based on the words of the gemara Sotoh 12a that that he who marries a woman only for heavenly intentions it is considered as if she was his child. By saying that the children were "chonan Elokim es avdecho" he was saying that he begot children only for the sake of heaven and in turn his wives were likewise included in "his chidren."
Ch. 33, v. 10: "Im noh motzosi chein b'einecho v'lokachto minchosi mi'yodi ki al kein ro'isi fo'necho kiros pnei Elokim vatirtzeini" - If please I have found favour in your eyes and you will take my present from my hand because as I have seen your countenance as seeing the countenance of Elokim and you will appease me - when one attempts to cajole another he at least says something that is logical. Did Yaakov think that Eisov would believe that he equated seeing Eisov as seeing, i.e. communicating with Hashem? The Beis Yitzchok answers that Yaakov had a different intention when he said these words. Eisov just got done saying, "yeish li rov," I have lots and lots, meaning that he had no need nor appreciation for receiving a present. Yaakov responded that meeting Eisov face to face deserved his sending Eisov a present, just as when one makes the pilgrimage to Yerushalayim for the three Holidays. Even though Hashem is surely not lacking anything, and nevertheless we are enjoined to bring Him offerings of "r'ioh," of appearing in front of Hashem, similarly Eisov should also accept his presents.
Ch. 35, v. 22: "Va'yi'h'yu vnei Yaakov shneim ossor" - And the sons of Yaakov were twelve - Since the next three verses enumerate them by name, we clearly see that they were twelve. Rashi offers two answers. The first is that now that they totaled twelve it is appropriate to count them. The second is that just as the other eleven are free of sin, so too Reuvein, not withstanding his having tampered with the Matriarch's beds, is also free of any wrongdoing.
Perhaps these words allude to the statement of the gemara B.B. 115b, where Abayei says that we have a tradition that there will always remain at least a remnant of every tribe. The Rashbam cites Rabbeinu Chananeil who says that this is alluded to in the verse in Malachi 3, "V'atem bnei Yaakov lo chili'sem." Taken literally, the sons of Yaakov are the twelve tribes. We might say that our verse is saying that the "bnei Yaakov," the exact same wording as in Malachi, are twelve (read "va'yi'h'yu" as "v'yi'h'yu). (n.l.)
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