Point to Ponder -  Vayishlach 5774


1)      Vayishlach Yaakov – Rashi notes that he sent Malachim Mamash. Rav Shach ztl. notes that Yaakov Aveinu is teaching us an important lesson in life. He is noting that the entirety of creation, INCLUDING the malachim were created to serve man. Man,  can either be on the highest levels of spirituality and his existence as last in creation be like a king for whom others clear the way – or, if too haughty, man can be reminded that even the flies preceded his arrival. Rav Shach asks how knowing that everything was created for you will keep people from becoming haughty? He explains that EVERYONE has the responsibility to make the same declaration of “b’shvili nivra HaOlam” . When we are all given the same princely status, there is no room for Gaavah. He adds that the message behind the malachim who accompany us home on Friday night is also part of the recognition that Malachim continuously accompany us – giving each Jew his malachim to work for him.


2)      “I lived with Lavan” (32:5)Rashi notes that Yaakov was warning Esav that he continued to keep the Mitzvos in Galus and still deserved the Berachos. Maran HaRav Schachter Shlita  (citing the Beis HaLevi) notes that Yaakov sent the message to Seir in order to remind Esav that Eretz Yisroel was not Esav’s. He reminded him that he lived with Lavan as a Ger – not, as the Gemara (Bava  Basra 8a) notes as a Yosheiv HaIr (to which you acclimate in 30 days) or even as Anshei HaIr (to which you become, after 12 months). Rather, for 20 years, Yaakov notes “Gartee” I was a Ger – a stranger – and therefore able to keep all 613 mitzvos. Maran HaRav Schachter Shlita adds that this is precisely why the malach attacked Yaakov in the Gid HaNasheh which symbolized the terror of the future. The Terror can try to take away our financial ability and success but it will never get the Spiritual success of the Jew.


3)      I have been humbled from all the Chessed and all the Emes (32:11) – Chessed is relative. One can have some, a lot or all of Chessed (hence the concept of chessed Shel Emes). Thus the use of the term “Mikol” is releant. But what is Mikol HaEmes? Either Emes is true or it is not? Rav Hoschander Shlita (former Rav of Shaarei Shomayim in Toronto) explains that there are two truths in life – empirical truth and relative truth. Yaakov was the one who was able to achieve it all and live within the world of objective, empirical truth. 


4)      And he took from what came to his hand (32:14) – The Yalkut Reuveni notes that he sent Esav an Eagle. However, the Mattesdorfer Rav ztl. notes that he sent Noshros (fallen from mizbeiach) . He adds that this is consistent with the comment of the Baal Haturim that the korbanos all end with mem --- as all were Baalei mum. Why? He explains, citing a famous Midrash (Tanchuma, Maasei) which says that the eigel that Eliyahu wanted used on Har HaCarmel for the Nivei HaBaal refused to go. Hashem told Bnei Yisroel for kavod Shomayim he wouldn’t budge and we shouldn’t either.  Here too, none of Yaakov’s livestock wanted to go if it meant to be brought as a korban for Avodah Zara. Ergo, once Baalei Mum, problem solved.


5)      It is a Mincha sent to my master (32:19) – When one tends flocks, it is common to use the assistance of dogs – sheep dogs, in order to keep the flocks in line. In sending his gift to Esav, Yaakov must have used sheep dogs as well. Why did he not mention the dogs? Rav Mordechai Eliyahu ztl. answers with a reference to a famous story told by the Ben Ish Chai concerning a certain Shul that was waiting for a tenth man for a minyan. As the Shamash waited for the tenth man and the sun began to set, in a distance he saw a man. The shamash called to him “Mincha, Mincha” and the man took off – in the OTHER direction! The Shamash ran after him and eventually caught up to the man. He thanked the man noting that now he understood why the dogs aren’t mentioned with the gift sent to Esav – for when the Dogs heard “Mincha, Mincha – they ran away.”!


6)      And they said “Are they going to make our sister into a Harlot?”- Shimon and Levi seem to get the last word in, on the Dinah affair. Rav Samson Refael Hirsch ztl opines that the difference of opinion between Yaakov and his two sons concerned a values dispute. Shimon and Levi thought it critical to stand up against evil while Yaakov saw it more important to value life. Shimon and Levi note that had this been any other family, the city of Shechem and Shechem himself would not have DARED to start up. The response was a message that Jews are not Hefker. Yaakov still felt that the method was part of Yadayim Yidei Esav which never is successful in the end.  The Jewish strength is in the Ruach, in the spirit and that is what always endures. The opposite raises a big Sakana.


7)      These are the multitudes of the family of Esav based on their names in their places – Rashi notes that they were referenced by their countries. Rav Moshe Feinstein ztl notes that this is significant because there was no “self” to the children of Esav. They derived their sense of importance from where they were.  However, places change – our job in life is to achieve permanence. 


8)      Haftorah – “How Esav was searched out, how his hidden things were revealed” (Ovadiah 1:6) – The Haftorah highlights the fact that Esav, as a thief tends to leave nothing overturned as he searches for treasure. However, Rav Avraham Rivlin Shlita notes that there is a deeper level of interpretation here. The Zohar notes that from the youngest ages, Esav was able to be sneaking around. The Zohar notes in detail how Esav would fool his father in Torah study which he skipped by being in the field and then later fooling his father into thinking that he too, participated in prayers. Moreover, Esav will later also try to appear as if he will be righteous. The Yirushalmi notes that in the future his act will be so good that it will even fool the righteous in Gan Eden. However, the Navi tells us that there is one whom you cannot fool. In the end, the internal intent of Esav will be searched out and revealed by Hashem.