"We are our brothers and sisters keepers".
The Akeda Foundation
D’rosh: Vayishlach (Segment: And Jacob Sent Messengers to Esau) (Gen. XXXII, 4-XXXVI).
Haftorah: (HOSEA. XI, 7-XII, 12 for ASHKENAZIM; THE BOOK OF OBADIAH FOR SEPHARDIM. CHAPTER 1: 1-21).
Candle Lighting: December 2, 2017 3:56 PM
Our third and final Patriarch, Jacob, finds himself in the inevitable position of challenging Thomas Wolfe’s famous line… " You can’t go home again". [Gen XXXIII:4-11]. Metaphorically the message and Jacob’s journey raise issues. The opening line of the Parsha sets the tone for what could be a disastrous reunion.
… “And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seri, the field of Edom”… [Gen.XXXII:4]. But all went well and the twenty year reunion reunited the brothers.
First, it’s not so much about physically making the journey. Second, it is all about as people we have changed and most likely are not the same people when, “we were home” before leaving.
The same can be said for home as it too has evolved into a different series of personalities.
Home represents comfort, so for Jacob and his entourage it meant a combination of peace and trepidation.
Although Jacob did not commit a crime in getting Esau’s birth right, the morality of his actions are suspect. He played on the infirmities of his aging father our second Patriarch Isaac and his brother’s hunger and exhaustion from being in the fields hunting.
Jacob hopes that his peace offering will help to ease the anger. [Gen. XXXII: 12-22].
Under the cover of darkness Jacob proceeded towards Esau. [Gen XXXII: 23-25].But the night was not restful for Jacob. A second time he was forced to wrestle a messenger of G-d and although triumphant was dealt a permanent hip injury. More importantly, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel for prevailing in his struggles over G-d’s messenger. [Gen XXXII: 24-32].
Clearly, the most famous wrestling match in civilizations history, is not The World Wrestling Federation events, and let’s not forget’ Monday Night Raw’ and WrestleMania but Jacob’s match with ‘The Messenger from G-d’ resulting in his displacing his hip but gaining new respect. [Gen.XXX:25-33]. The battle was epic but in the end Jacob prevailed and was given Yisroel as is name by G-d.
Raymond Smith has a hit record that metaphorically describes the human frailties when involved with an ’Angel’. The song was “Little Rockin’ Angel”. Like with Jacob things happened by surprise. Also like Jacob the ordeal was successfully met head on.
Sadly for Jacob, and his family, Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin. [Gen.XXXV:16-19]. She passed shortly after Isaac passed away. (Gen.XXXV:1). Jacob now was the final patriarch and became G-d’s messenger to the people.
Even in victory Jacob took an oath with the Messenger asking for mercy by placing his hand upon his inner thigh. These arteries and sciatic nerve endings are not kosher and must be removed before meat consumption based on the encounter with G-d’s messenger and Jacob’s supplication for mercy.[Gen. XXX II :26] .Gracious in victory. A lone solitary man, who had sent his wife, hand maidens and children across the river, knew this night was to be special. [Gen.XXX:22-23].
Fearful with an ounce of trepidation? Yes. Was he afraid? No. Yisroel was more than up to the task for the dusk to dawn battle.
Jacob, now Israel and Esau met where upon Jacob asks forgiveness and presents his tribute and permission to pass through his land. [Gen. XXXII: 8-18].
Violence very often finds its way to the vulnerable. Dinah, Jacob’s and Leah’s daughter was no exception, as she was violated. [Gen. XXXIV: 1-8]. It becomes a matter of honor, regardless of the mass conversions through circumcision .Her brothers, Simeon and Levi were going to send a message that would be crystal clear by executing every male by sword even though they were recovering from the circumcision process.
Deception again reared its ugly head as Jacob talked Hamore and the men of Shechem, to go through circumcision. During recovery the son’s of Jacob killed the men of Shechem to restore Dinah’s honor. [Gen. XXXIV: 22-31].
There is a question which only each of us will be able to answer if put in that delicate position of preserving and or restoring then honor of a relative or loved one. Put yourselves in the shoes of Simeon and Levi only the dishonor hits closer to home. Back in the days of the Patriarch Jacob, was/ is it acceptable to take lives to restore honor? There is probably no more intense issue than character assassination coupled with non- consented to sexual intimacy of Dinah’s rape. The answer is not an easy one and hopefully one that is never on the table to require a course of action. Speaking for myself and clearly not very Rabbi like, I would do what -ever the appropriate steps would be to have honor and personal integrity restored to my family and friends. This is after all what family and friendship is all about in part, protection for those who need it.
Jacob learned the hard way that sooner or later what goes around comes around. Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ their smash heavy metal hit, never charted because it was not released as a single, but was released on an album.
Eventually all foreign G-d’s were given to Jacob and destroyed. G-d renewed his Covenant
With Jacob that was made with the Patriarchs preceding him. G-d reaffirmed that his name will now be Israel. [GenXXXV: 9-12]. When looking at the roots of the respective names Jacob’s name is changed to Israel. The root ‘Eikev’ (from Yaakov) means heel while the root derivative of ‘Yisroel’ means (‘Prince of G-d’) also ‘my head’, inferring that Jacob will host a lineage of leaders. Earlier he was the bottom rung on his ascension up the ladder spiritually.
The Parsha concludes with Esau’s generations becoming the Edomite Nation and he being its Father. [Gen. XXXVI: 43].
Shabbat Shalom/ A Peaceful Sabbath/ Shavuah Tov/A Good Week/ Reb ‘Z /R’Z/STU