VayIshlach

VayIshlach

I have sojourned with Lavan…

Rashi states: I have sojourned with the wicked Lavan, and yet I have performed the 613 Mitzvohs, and did not emulate his ways.The 248 Mitzvohs Aseih (positive Mitzvohs, i.e. eating matzos on Pesach) are fulfilled when a person actually performs the deed. Yet the 365 Mitzvohs Lo Se’aseih (negative Mitzvohs i.e. not eating chometz on Pesach) are fulfilled only by refraining from them when tempted.

The 248 Mitzvohs Aseih (positive Mitzvohs, i.e. eating matzos on Pesach) are fulfilled when a person actually performs the deed. Yet the 365 Mitzvohs Lo Se’aseih (negative Mitzvohs i.e. not eating chometz on Pesach) are fulfilled only by refraining from them when tempted.Yaakov Avinu, surely was not tempted to sin. If so, how could he have rightfully claimed to have performed the 613 commandments if he did not have to overcome the test of transgressing the 365 negative Mitzvohs?

Yaakov Avinu, surely was not tempted to sin. If so, how could he have rightfully claimed to have performed the 613 commandments if he did not have to overcome the test of transgressing the 365 negative Mitzvohs?However, if a person is in bad company, he can be influenced by his surroundings, and be presented with challenges to transgress sin despite his lofty spiritual level. Thus Yaakov said, “Because I have lived with the wicked Lavan, and so I was confronted with temptation to sin, which I overcame, I can rightfully pronounce that I have kept all of the 613 Mitzvohs!

However, if a person is in bad company, he can be influenced by his surroundings, and be presented with challenges to transgress sin despite his lofty spiritual level. Thus Yaakov said, “Because I have lived with the wicked Lavan, and so I was confronted with temptation to sin, which I overcame, I can rightfully pronounce that I have kept all of the 613 Mitzvohs!

(Ohr Yitzchok)

For he said, ‘If Eisav comes to the one camp and strikes it down, then the remaining camp shall survive.

This posuk can be explained with a parable: Market Day was proceeding at its regular hectic pace, with feverish activity and a cacophony of sounds. Each stall owner stood hopefully beside his merchandise and produce, awaiting customers. Hordes of consumers moved along from stall to stall, examining, tasting, and bargaining. Suddenly the crowds were abuzz with an alarming rumor; a band of thieves was mingling among the shoppers! The merchants were on the alert, guarding their products with many eyes and suspecting anyone who came near their stalls.

One of the thieves stealthily approached the booth of an apple dealer, grabbed some apples, and ran off. The merchant wasn’t too smart, and immediately set off in pursuit. Meanwhile, the rest of the thieves seized the opportunity, and took off with the remaining apples. When the apple dealer realized that he wasn’t gaining over the thief, he dejectedly returned to his stall, and horror of horrors! All his apples were gone! “What a fool I’ve been,” he shouted, “By not letting go of these few apples I lost my entire stock!” Yet his wails of misery were drowned in the din. The thieves, seeking to employ their trick once again, advanced to the neighboring vegetable stall. Here too, one thief grabbed some cucumbers and dashed off, getting lost in the crowd. The rest of the gang waited with bated breath for the owner to take off after him, so that they could pounce upon the rest of the produce. This time, though, the stall owner was a bit smarter. Although upset about his loss, he thought, “It’s better to relinquish a few cucumbers, and not leave my booth unattended. I will make sure to be more attentive in the future, so that it doesn’t happen again.”

The Yetzer Hara stealthily sneaks up, instigating a person to transgress. Often, he is successful, and the person sins. The fool, like the apple merchant, will become dejected, pursuing that one misdeed and crying aimlessly over it, not realizing that this too, is the work of the Yetzer Hara. In the time that he is wallowing in self-recrimination, he could have performed many Mitzvohs. Yet instead he is further heeding the Yetzer Hara by wasting his time crying over that transgression.

A wise person will act like the vegetable merchant. If the Yetzer Hara is victorious and he sins, he will immediately strengthen himself, and guard himself in the future, by performing as many Mitzvohs as he can. By mending his ways, his sin will be erased and forgiven.

This can be inferred from Yaakov Avinu’s words; Eisav refers to the Yetzer Hara here. “If Eisav, the Yetzer Hara, will come to one group and smite it”- He will cause the person to transgress, “Then the other group which is left may escape”- He will be careful not to stumble in the future, but he will not waste his time crying over his sin, since then he loses the many mitzvohs he could have accomplished during that time.

(Divrei Yisroel)

He said: No longer will it be said that your name is Yaakov, but Yisroel…

Hashem told Yaakov Avinu, “Your name is Yaakov. Your name will no longer be called Yaakov, but Yisroel will be your name.” The difference between the two verses is, that the angel completely nullified the name Yaakov, while Hashem affirmed that his name still remains Yaakov, and He did not fully abolish this name.Klal Yisroel

Klal Yisroel are referred to the name Yaakov when they are on a lower spiritual level, and with the name Yisroel when they are on a higher spiritual level. When the angel blessed Yaakov, he totally voided the name Yaakov, calling him only Yisroel, because he desired that Klal Yisroel should only be blessed when they are on the level of Yisroel.Hashem, however, is ever merciful. He did not void the name

Hashem, however, is ever merciful. He did not void the name Yaakov, because He wants to bless Klal Yisroel even when they are only on the level of Yaakov. Therefore Hashem said, “Your name is Yaakov”- Even when you are on a low spiritual level you will be blessed. Yet Hashem did add, “You will no longer be called Yaakov, but Yisroel will be your name.” To show Klal Yisroel, that their ultimate goal should be to attain the level of Yisroel, and to rightfully merit the blessings.

(Maran Rebbe Aharon of Belz zy”a)

 

All those who depart through the gate of his city—were circumcised…

Had the sons of Yaakov not circumcised the inhabitants of Shechem, they would have remained gentiles. When Shimon and Levi killed them, all the nations of the world would have stood up in protest, raising a cry, “The Jews killed one of us!”Since the people of Shechem were circumcised, they were considered Jews. Thus, when Shimon and Levi wiped them out, the nations weren’t bothered by it, since whom did it bother that some Jews were killed!

Since the people of Shechem were circumcised, they were considered Jews. Thus, when Shimon and Levi wiped them out, the nations weren’t bothered by it, since whom did it bother that some Jews were killed!

(Rebbe Yonasan Eibeshitz zt”l)