Thursday, November 22, 2007


32:11-2 - "I am not worthy of all the kindnesses and of all of the truths which You have done to Your servant; for with my staff I crossed over this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. Please save me from the hand of my brother, Eisav..."

It's strange how Yaakov utilizes the imagery of two camps - which he only had to resort to because of the mortal danger that had came upon him - as a means of expressing the kindness that HaShem had done for him, relative to when he had left Canaan alone. Perhaps this last clause is a connector of sorts, serving as both an acknowledgement of HaShem's kindness in enlarging the household of Yaakov and an acknowledgement that Yaakov was in great need of further salvation. Alternatively, sometimes one only recognizes the gifts that one has been given when they're put in danger.

32:25 - "And Yaakov was left alone and a man wrestled with him until daybreak".

Midrash Rabbah on the passuk compares Yaakov (or tzaddikim in general) to HaShem; just like He is alone (V'nisgav HaShem l'vado), so, too, was Yaakov alone - and hence, the popular Carlebach tune.

32:30 - "And Yaakov asked him, and said, 'Tell me your name'; and he said, 'Why do you ask my name?'..."

One of my favorite vortlach comes from one of the books in the Maggid series. Based on the midrash that states that the man = saro shel Eisav = Samael = mal'ach ha-maves = Yetzer Hara, one can understand the response of Yaakov's assailant as being an answer, rather than a counterquestion. The name of the yetzer hara, its modus operandi, is, indeed, "Why do you ask my name"; once one stops thinking critically about himself and the world around him, he soon gets washed away by his yetzer.

34:1 - "And Dina the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Yaakov, went out to see the girls of the land."

Rashi notes that just like Leah was a yatz'anis (30:16), so was her daughter. How are the cases similar, though? The passuk by Leah states that she went forth to greet Yaakov and tell him that she had swapped her duda'im in exchange for his spending the night with her. On the surface the two yetzi'os are not at all parallel - Leah stepping out of her tent briefly to speak to her husband vs. Dina looking to socialize with the neighboring girls; is there some deeper connection between the two episodes?

35:10 - "Your name, Yaakov; no more shall your name be called Yaakov, but rather Yisroel shall be your name"

Why did HaShem wait until this point to change his name, being that Yaakov had already been forewarned of the switch 2 years earlier (i.e., before meeting Eisav, dwelling in Sukkot, and dwelling near Shechem)? Rashi notes that the switch is a change from the sneakiness implied by the name "Yaakov" to a terminology of leadership; perhaps this reasoning counteracts the sneakiness used by Shimon and Levi to wipe out Shechem? (If this is the case, though, why would HaShem wait until they passed Alon Bachut?)

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At 11/25/2007 9:55 PM, Anonymous chaim said...

A brief thought on the last matter: I don't remember clearly, but it seems to me that the time line and order of the events in the parsha is in dispute and subject to various interpretations. I know it doesn't really answer the question, but maybe we could say that your question provides the motivation for those who say events are recorded out of order.

At 11/26/2007 1:28 PM, Blogger Josh M. said...

Perhaps. The question would then change into why the passages are recorded out of order.


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