Parshas Vayishlach:
 By: Yaacov Silverstein
e@mail: hm16@popeye.cc.biu.ac.il
HomePage: http://faculty.biu.ac.il/~hm16/

Parshas Vayishlach:

Note: New Chanukah Page in the making --- http://faculty.biu.ac.il/~hm16/chanukah


To Fear or not to fear, that is the question:


Yakov starts getting ready to meet his brother Eisav.

He is told by a messenger that Eisav is coming to meet him with an army of 400 men.

Upon hearing this, Yakov becomes frightened and he did three things to prepare himself for this inevitable encounter.

Yakov prepared for battle, Davend to Hashem, and did Teshuva.

One may ask, what, Yakov Avinhu was afraid?

Isn't one only supposed to have fear of Hashem?

Comes Rav A.Henach Leibowitz and explains that this fear that Yakov had, awakened and uplifted him. He transformed this fear that he had, into action. This action that he did was Teshuva, Tefila and preparation for war (physical).

Yakov used this fear to bring out positive reinforcement of his faith in Hashem.

When one finds himself in a state of fear, one must check what effect this fear is having on him: is it bringing one down or lifting him up?

One must have fear, yet this is only fear of Hashem.

That is the type of fear that Yakov had.

"Balayla Ha-Hu...":


If we look closely at the Pasuk before Yakov meets the angel of Eisav, it says "Balayla Hu..." . The obvious question is why doesn't it say "Balayla Ha-Hu"?

Why is there a "Hay" missing?

Comes Rav David Feinstein and explains that just like when we saw in the previous Parsha, Pasuk(30:16) when it says "Vayishkav Imah Balayla Hu', Rashi explains that there is a Hay missing to teach us that Hashem intervened that specific night, in order for Leah to conceive Yisachar.

Here also, Hashem intervened.

We saw that Yakov was afraid of meeting Eisav his brother, yet after the encounter with Eisav's angel, we see that he lost that previous fear.

Yakov was afraid that maybe he had used up all his previous merits.

Yet at that night Hashem gave Yakov a sign which took away his fears.

Thus the "Hay" is missing to show us that on that night Hashem(Who is the one and only 'Hoo') intervened in order to reassure Yakov and take away his fears.

Its all in the name:


When Yakov was struggling with the angel, he asked the angel what his name was, the angel answered him, "...why do you inquire of my name. And the angel blessed Yakov there".

Comes Rav Chaim Shmulevitz and says that after Yakov overpowered the angel of Eisav, Yakov was asking the angel to explain his essence. For the name of an entity, is what defines its essence. Thus the angel was not asking a question, but rather replying to Yakov's question.

This angel of Eisav represents the Yetzer Hara, who's only strength lies in the fact that people don't pause to examine more closely its essence.

For if one would pause, and check its essence (its name), one wouldn't sin.

For Chazal tell us, "A person does not sin unless a spirit of foolishness enters him. (Gemarah Sotah 3:a)

Thus we see that the angel of Eisav actually did answer Yakov's question.

That the whole essence of his name, is that people don't stop to ask, the act of asking is what takes away the Yetzer's essence.

(Sichos Mussar)


Yakov pleads to Hashem to save him from "the hands of my brother, and from the hands of Eisav".

Right away, one may ask, why doesn't the Pasuk just write "From the hands of my brother Eisav"? For we know that the Torah doesn't write extra words without any reason.

Also, why does the Torah tell us twice in two separate Pesukim, about the struggle between Yakov and Eisav's angel (Maavak)?

For in Pasuk (25) we are told that the angel was fighting Yakov till 'Alos Hashachar', thus why do we need to be told again in the next Pasuk (26), that the angel hit Yakov's hip in the struggle. We were just told that they were struggling? Again, why the repetition?

So, in the struggle, Rashi explains two explanations on how they struggled. One explanation that Rashi gives is that they "Kicked up dust".

The other one is that they were as if they hugging each other, like wrestlers, each one trying to knock the other one down.

Comes the Ksav Sofer and explains that kicking up dust is the way haters act, each one wanting to throw the other to the ground. While people that love each other, embrace each other.

This is what Rashi is coming to tell us in his two explanations.

For there are two types of struggles that he and we have with Eisav.

We know that "Maasei Avos Siman Labanim".

In Galus we are attacked by two different methods.

Either through Gzeiros and Shmad, and we know, the more they attack us, the stronger we become spiritually.

While there is a second way, treating us like brothers, and taking us off our path of Yidishkeit and thus distancing the Bnei Yisroel from Hashem.

Rav Breuer says that Yakov is worried from two different people.

(1)Eisav- that will try to kill and destroy the Jew through libels and kicking the Jews out of their country.

(2)Brother- the one that loves you. Who is just as dangerous.

Just like thousands of Jews were lost from "Eisav", there are now a days thousands being lost to our "brother".

We see these two types of Eisav's tactics during the struggle.

In this fight, we saw that Yakov struggled and the angel couldn't beat him, so he hit Yakov's hip.

Here the Torah doesn't mention that Yakov was injured from this hit, only when the sun dawned and Yakov passed "Penuel... and now he was limping", do we find that Yakov was actually injured from the hit. Before this, the Torah doesn't mention that he was limping. Why didn't the Torah mention it when Yakov was hit, why only when the sun rose?

On this, Rav Breuer explains that here we see that when Yakov was struggling with Eisav's angel, "Eisav" was fighting, yet there was no lasting damage. Since we can withstand such a battle.

For at first the angel tried to knock Yakov to the ground, this is the first time that the Pasuk mentions the struggle. Pasuk (32:25), "The angel wrestled till day break, and he saw that he couldn't".

Then we have the second Pasuk (32:26), "The angel felt he couldn't overcome Yakov, thus he hit him on his hip." The angel held him as a friend does, like the second explanation of Rashi, and thus he was able to hurt Yakov and injure his hip.

Its when the light comes up, and things are secure, we have a bright day, Eisav respects us, we feel the troubles of Galus leaving us, only then is it obvious that the results of a loving brother can do damage. At night, when Yakov succeeded against the Angel, Yakov calls the name of the place "Peni-E-l". The face of Hashem is present. Yet when the dawn goes down and we get the love of Eisav, than "Penu-E-l", it is as if Hashem leaves. You forget that you are a Jew. This is when the real impact of Eisav is present.

(Rav Breuer was taken from Rav Y. Frand's Parsha tape)

The Beis Halevi explains that the reason why the Pasuk writes "save me from the hands of my BROTHER from the hands of EISAV", mentioning brother before Eisav. Is because Yakov was more afraid of his "brother" than "Eisav", for it is much easier for one to stumble in a Galus where there is more light, since Davkah there, we find more spiritual darkness.

Comes Rabbi Yeruchum Levovitz and asks, why was there a need here for a special miracle, in order for Yakov to be saved from his brothers Eisav hands? Isn't it normal for brothers to fight?

So he explains that Eisav's hatred for him was so deep, that it was part of his nature, and it is very hard for one to change his nature.

For one to change his character traits or personality, it is almost impossible, unless he gets Siyata D'shmaya from Hashem.

One must use Torah as ones helper in changing his character.

As Rabbi A.J. Twerski writes, one must study the Torah with the intent to live up to what the Torah teaches and to implement it into daily living.

One must study both the ethical and Halachik aspects of the Torah, only then can he hope that with Siyata D'Shmaya, he will undergo the wanted change.


Topic: Gid Hanashe

Pasuk (32:33): "Therefore the Bnei Yisroel are not to eat the displaced sinew on the hip-socket..."

The Gid Hanashe is called the "sciatic nerve" - the inner sinew.

The Torah prohibits a Jew from eating the sciatic nerve that branches out from the rear of the spinal column and runs down the inner side of the animal's leg from any kosher land animal.

One is not allowed to eat from the hind of an animal, until one does Nikur.

Chazal broadened the prohibition of Gid Hanashe to include parts of the nerve and the fats surrounding it, which are not included in the Biblical prohibition.

Nikur, is the process of removing the nerve and fat around the Gid Hanashe.

Since this process is very difficult, there are many that don't eat any part of meat that comes from the hind of an animal.

(The above was taken from the Sefer "Pitche Halacha - Rav B.Forst)

The Artscroll Chumash goes into greater depth and explains that Chazal prohibit eating from the outer sinew (the common peroneal nerve).

This runs accross the thigh on the outer side of the animal's leg.

The nerves must be completely removed, including the fat covering the sciatic nerve, and six nerves that look like strings, and other veins.

(For more Halachik discussion, Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 65)

(The above is not to be used for Psak, but just to increase ones awareness.

For final Psak, please ask your Local Reliable Orthodox Rabbi).