At the end of last week’s Torah portion, Yakov and Lavan part ways. After having been warned by Hashem not to harm Yakov or even say anything positive or negative towards him, Lavan seems to go his own way. However the Midrash relates how this was very much not the case. Lavan sent his son to Esav telling him how Yakov arrived penniless and that he gave him his daughters and fed him and gave him work. But after all he had done for Yakov, he left and took everything without even allowing him to say goodbye to his daughters and grandchildren. His intent was to incite Esav so that he make good on his vow to one day kill his brother. This would then revert all of Yakov’s riches back to him and he would even be reunited with his daughters and grandchildren. As our parsha begins we find that Esav is steaming towards Yakov with an army of four hundred men.
(32:4) “Vayishlach Yakov Malachim - And Yakov sent Messengers.” Rashi say’s they were actual Malachim. Why was this necessary? Would not regular messengers be sufficient? The Oznayim L’Torah writes that he originally wanted to send regular messengers but they were all afraid to go. He therefore sent malachim. The Or Hachaim say's that from the words “El Essav Achiv - to Esav his brother” tells us that he didn't know if Essav would act like an Essav, meaning hostile, or like Achiv- a brother. This is why he had to send a Malach. Only a Malach would be able to look at him and discern what his intentions were.
(32:4) “Vayishlach Yakov Malachim - And Yakov sent Messengers.” Rashi say's they were Malachim Mamish actual Angels. The question is how could he have the right to use real Angels? It is true that Yakov had no right to use Hashem’s angels, but he did have the right to use for his benefit the angels that were created from his own good deeds. This is what Rashi alludes to when he says Mamish. It’s an acronym for Me’Measim Shelo.
The Midrash relates that the malachim began beating Essav and his men when they met with them. This would not seem to be the correct way to win them over? But the Oznayim L’Torah explains that this actually was the language that Essav understood. He was the type of person who would only impressed by brute force. To him this was the only way to be won over.
(32:5) “Ko Omar Avdecha Yakov Im Lavan Garty - So said your servant Yakov, I have dwelled with Lavan.” Yakov sends messengers to Essav to tell him that he had lived by Lavan. He uses the word Garty to convey dwelling. Rashi says that this has the same letters as Taryag (613) that he is saying even though I dwelt by Lavan I kept all six hundred thirteen mitzvos. But how could this be since he was married to two sisters? According to one Pshat since the two sisters were gairim they no longer had a family and were therefore not considered sisters any longer. The Or Hachaim say's that the message Yakov was telling Essav was that even though I have spent the last 21 years in the company of such a Rasha, I still came out on top. As is evident by this wealth I have amassed. Therefore there was no point in behaving in a hostile manner. Lavan had tried this for many years and it had not benefited him at all. According to the Kli Yakar what was the point of this message since Essav could care less about whether Yakov kept the mitzvos? Instead the point of this message was that Essav might think that the reason the blessings had not yet befallen him was because he lived with Lavan and didn't keep the mitzvos. He was therefore telling him Garty I did keep the mitzvos and still had not yet benefited from the blessings.
A different approach to this is that of R. Yonasan Eibeschutz who explains that Essav found it very difficult to control his desires. What did he do? He believed that although the Avos kept the Torah, they were only required to do so in Eretz Yisroel. Therefore he moved outside the boundaries of the Holy Land, to Seir. Yakov on the other hand disagreed with Essav on this point and held that the Torah must be kept everywhere. This fact was alluded to in his statement “Im Lavan Garty-With Lavan I dwelt.” Meaning that even though one is outside the boundaries of Eretz Yisroel it is still incumbent to keep the mitzvos.
It says that Yakov divided his camp into two parts. Then he went back to get some small flasks (pachim ketanim). We learn that this incident was a foreshadowing of a future event pertaining to the story of Chanukah. The flask of oil alluding to the pach they found in the Beis Hamikdosh. That when he wrestled with the angel of Essav and came away wounded it was a sign that although Yakov would eventually be victorious he would not come away unscathed. The generation of the Greeks would produce Jews that would turn away from Yiddishkite (shmad) and turn against other Jews.
The question is why this particular event here with the angel of Essav did this show up? There was a complaint against the children of Yakov for letting him cross over the river alone. They should not have let him be by himself. In some form they were lazy not to accompany him. Their atzlus or lack of Kibud'av the angel of Essav was able to affect him to a degree. Especially since the angel of Essav had this very strong merit of Kibud'av.
Yakov prepares for his meeting with Essav in three ways, one by praying to Hashem, and then he sends gifts to appease him. Lastly he divides the camp in preparation for war. The night before he has this encounter with the Malach of Essav, Yakov is able to overcome him and force him to concede the Brochos that were originally given to him by his father. He also insisted that the malach bless him. But the malach instead asks him “what is your name” and tells him that he will no longer be called Yakov but Yisroel instead. The question is that by Avraham when his name was changed we no longer refer to him by his previous name, whereas Yakov is called Yakov even after his name is changed? We see that Yakov came away limping after his struggle with the malach. The other Avos were successful in their struggles with Tumeh. But Yakov was left with a residual wound.
The Pachad Yitzchok says that by Avraham there was a part of him that was cast out. By Yitzchok too there was a part cast out. But Yakov had a Mita Shelaima, he had twelve righteous sons. He had no release. In his realm there was no such thing as cast out. Yisroel Af al pi Shechoteh Yisroel A Jew remains a Jew even if he sins. This was a new concept introduced to the world. The fact that he came away from this conflict wounded would be manifested in the future when Yisroel would eventually sin. On this level we relate to the name Yakov. Avraham reached his madrege and would never go back. Yakov retained this madrege of Yakov even after he became Yisroel. We need to act like a Yakov (the Eikvas - cunning) to survive among the goyim until there is no longer an Essav in the world. Then Yakov will be only referred to as Yisroel.
When Yakov is about to meet up with Essav the verse reads (32:8) “Vayira Yakov Me'od-he was very frightened.” Rashi says that he feared possibly killing others (Achairim). Why did he not have faith that Hashem would protect him? Th answer is that really he feared he might kill Essav and that Essav was carrying the seeds of future converts. The achairim that Rashi speaks of is the Neshama of R.Meir who was a convert that was a descendant of Essav's. In fact when the Talmud says “Acharim Omerim-Others say” they say this is really R.Meir. So Yakov was afraid of killing “Achairim.” He was afraid of killing R.Meir.
- Diskin has another interpretation, he says the reason Yakov was afraid is because of the prophecy spoken by his mother at the time she sent him away from Essav. She said “why should I lose both of you on the same day.” This eventually bore true, both Yakov and Essav were buried on the same day. So what Yakov feared was that he would be forced to kill Essav, which would mean his death as well.
A novel explanation appears in the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos. And he was distressed, he explains, because Essav had said that he would kill Ya'akov after his father's death (27:41). So Yakov extrapolated that, now that Essav was on his way to kill him, it must mean that Yitzchok was no longer alive. That also explains why in posuk 10, he referred to the "G-d of my father Yitzchok", despite the fact that one does not connect the name of a living person to that of G-d (see Rashi there). But if Yakov believed that his father had died, the problem falls away.
The question that still remains is why was Yakov afraid? When Yosef was born he knew it was time to return to his father’s home because Yosef was the cure for Essav. He knew that Yosef was able to stand up to him. As it says Essav is like straw and Yakov is the flame while Yosef is the spark which goes out to ignite the straw. Why then was Yakov afraid? The answer could be that the night before Yakov was left alone to face the angel of Essav. The fact that none of his sons accompanied him was a blemish in their mitzvah of Kibud Av. This was the mitzvah Essav excelled in. Since Yosef was among the sons that were negligent in this mitzvah, Yakov thought perhaps he would now no longer be able to overcome Essav.
(32:9) “Vayomer Im Yavo Essav Al Hamacheneh-Hanishar L’fleytah-He said if Essav will attack one camp the remainder will be able to flee.” How did Yakov know that the second camp would not also fall to Essav? Based on the above prophecy of Rivka, that they would both die on the same day, Yakov knew that if Essav would kill him he too would die. Therefore the other camp would surely escape. The Har Tzvi says that even though they were only buried on the same day, as Rashi says, a person who buries a child is bereaved. Therefore the prophecy could be referring to being buried on the same day.
(32:11) “Ki B’makli Ovarty es H’yarden Hazeh V;atoh Hoyisi L’shnei Machanos-With my staff I have crossed the Jordan and now I have become two camps.” We normally find the word Mateh used when referring to a staff, why the term “makali?” Perhaps we can say that the numerical value of the word “B’makali” equals that of the name Yakov. Meaning to say that with Yakov I crossed the river. Yakov who tricked Essav into selling the birthright, Yakov who stole the blessings from him. But now I have become two camps. Now I have separated the Essav within me. This is why later when the Torah writes (32:23) “Vayavor es Mavar Jabbok-And he crossed the river Jabbok.” The word Jabbok is the name Yakov without the letter "Ayin" for Essav. He finally was able to divest himself from the Essav within.
(32:12) “Hatzilani Na Miyad Achi Miyad Essav.” Yakov pleads to Hashem to save him from the hands of his brother, the hands of Essav? Why this double loshon? He was asking to be saved from Essav if he acts as a brother to him. Meaning if Essav would make peace with him he might become close to him and perhaps be influenced by his evil ways. Also Hashem should save him from the wicked Essav.
(32:14) “Vayikach Min Haboh Biyado-Yakov took from what came into his hands.” This is an unusual way of expressing the way Yakov prepared the gifts for Essav. Since Yakov's mission was to take all the material aspects of the world and elevate them to a high level of Kiddusha, how could he then now give them to this rashah Essav? That is why this term of what came to his hands is used. Rather than give him those things that he worked on to elevate them to this new level of kiddusha, Yakov gave those things that Hashem destined to come to his hands without effort. Those were what he gave to Essav.
The Baal Haturim says that we see in the next posuk that each word ends with the letter Mem. This indicates that every animal Yakov sent to Essav had a Mume (physical defect), which made them unfit for sacrifices even sacrifices intended for idols. R'bachya says that Yakov sent a Falcon which was Essav's favorite bird of prey. This explains the wording of “that which came to his hand.” The Falcon comes to a person's hand.
(32:23) “Vayokm B’Layla Hu-He got up that night.” There are three places in the Torah where we find this expression “Layala Hu” instead of the usual Layla Ha’Hu.
They are: (19:33) The night Lot impregnated his daughters.
(30:16) The night Leah traded places with Rachel for the Dudayim.
(33:23) The night Yakov fought and overcame the Malach of Essav.
Each of these three incidences were events that Hashem deemed not to leave unto chance. Rather the Divine Presence was there to intervene and insure that the proper outcome would result. By Lot it was the birth of ancestor of Moshiach. By Leah it was the night of the future revelation on Mount Sinai and the birth of Yisachar. Here by Yakov and Essav it was the triumph of good over evil.
(32:23) “Vayavor es Mavar Jabbok-And he crossed the river Jabbok.” Why was this place chosen for the confrontation between the Sar of Essav and Yakov? We know that “place” affects its inhabitants. We see by Avraham when he was going down to Mitzraim, he commented on his wife’s appearance. It was because he had come into contact with the decadence of that area, which caused him to think in those terms. Essav’s malach wanted this particular place because he felt it contained the best opportunity for him to succeed. Yakov asks the malach his name which he refuses to give. Because his job in this world is to hinder any spiritual growth that Yakov may have gained. His name was Samael, which in Hebrew when the letters are switched around spells L’samea, to blind. His job was to blind Yakov’s ability to see Hashem in everything of this world. This is why the place Jabbok was chosen. Jabbok is the letters of Yakov without the “ayin” for eye. It was the place that held some advantage over Yakov’s vision. (R.Shmuel Brazil)
(32:23) “Vayavor es Mavar Jabbok-And he crossed the river Jabbok.” Why was this place chosen for the confrontation between the Sar of Essav and Yakov? In last week’s Parsha it says (30:43) “Vayifrotz Ho’ish Ma’od Ma’od-The man became tremendously wealthy.” Why does it use the word Ish when describing Yakov's becoming wealthy? The term Ish is a term that was used to describe Essav. Yakov had stolen the brachos from Essav and now he had become wealthy, a man of the world, successful. Earlier when Yakov amassed this wealth, he is referred to as Ish (30:43) The man (Ish) prospered exceedingly and he possessed great herds and maids and servants and camels and donkeys. So when the posuk says Yakov was left alone it means he had to face what he had become, the struggle was with him. The Yetzer Hora is named Samael which is the name of the Sar of Essav. He now had to struggle with the Essav within him. This is why immediately following this crossing of the river Jabbok his name was changed. The word Jabbok is the same letters as Yakov but without the letter “Ayin” which stands for Essav. After crossing of the river Jabbok he was Yakov without the Essav in him. The name Yakov tied him to Esav because it represents holding on to Essav’s heel. Now after overcoming his brother’s influence he is called Yisroel.(Nireh Li)
(32:23) “V’es Achad Aser Yilodov- And his Eleven Children.” Rashi comments “Where was Dina? She had been placed in a box and locked in so that Essav would not set eyes on her.” Yakov was punished for withholding her from his brother because she might have been able to turn him around towards good. Rashi adds that she consequently fell into the hands of Schem who raped her. The question is why should Yakov be punished for doing something that any good parent would have done. Keep their daughter from marrying a wicked person! But the fact that Yakov locked the box tightly indicated how intensely he wanted to insure that she would remain protected. Had he merely stood in front of her, as Yosef did when he tried to shield his mother from Essav’s view, that would have been sufficient. If it was Hashem’s will that Dina be taken to influence Essav then Yakov should not have gone so far to divert it from happening. This brought about a tremendous change of direction for the future relations with Essav’s descendants. Had Dina been able to affect Essav countless future suffering on the part of Klal Yisroel might have been averted. For this reason Yakov was later punished by having his daughter violated by Schem.
(32:25) “Vayivater Yakov Livado Vayeavek Ish Emo-Yakov was left alone and a man struggled with him.” How is it that if Yakov was left alone there was a man there to wrestle with him? Either he was alone or there was someone there with him? If we look back to when Yakov discovered that he had really married Leah we find that the Midrash sheds light on the dialogue between Yakov and Leah. Yakov asked Leah “How could you have deceived me this way?” To which Leah answered “But didn’t you deceive your father by pretending to be your brother as well?” R.Pinchas Winston takes this dialogue a step further and says when Yakov asked Leah “How could you have deceived me this way? You were supposed to marry Essav?” To which she replied “I did.” Yakov had bought the birthright from Essav. He stole the brachas. He had taken on some of the characteristics of his brother. He had a part of Essav in him. Originally they were to share in the rebuilding of the world. Yakov was to mend the spiritual while Essav was to handle the physical aspect of the world. But when the demands of the physical world proved to be too much of a temptation for Essav, Yakov had to assume both roles. He no longer would just be the dweller in tents content to study Torah. He would have to learn the ways of the world. He would become a hunter. “Vayivater Yakov Livado-Yakov was left alone” equals 846 the same as the words B'choroso L'Yakov-The firstborn rights are Yakov's.
(32:27) “Vayomer Shalcheini Ki Olah Hashachar-He said send me away for the dawn is braking.” After Yakov defeats the Malach of Essav the malach says he must leave because dawn is approaching. The Gemarra in Chulin (91:b) says that this was the first time that this particular malach had the opportunity to sing shira since the time of his creation. Why did it come out here right after this battle with Yakov?
The reason evil was created in the world was only for good to be able to prevail. Yakov prepared for this moment his entire life. All the years he spent by Shame Ve’Aver and the years at his uncle Lavan all prepared him for this final encounter. Now that he defeated the Malach he is no longer called Yakov. He has a new name and a new mission. The Malach can only now go to sing Shira because his mission is accomplished. He was created to be overcome by good.
The Kol Torah writes that all along Essav viewed Yakov and his name as implying trickery. He told his father when he lost the Brochos (27:36) “Vayomer Hachi Korah Shemo Yakov Vayakveni Zeh Pamayim-He said is it because his name is Yakov that he outwitted me these two times.” Now after defeating the Malach of Essav he sees Yakov's sincere piety as a fighter for Hashem. Thus the name changes to Yisroel which implies straight with Hashem. Very often when a person becomes deathly sick, he is given a change in name. This is because a person's name defines his mission in this world. If that mission is completed that person's time in this world may be completed. By adding or changing the person's name we are in effect changing the mission.
(32:27) “Vayomer Lo Ashalechacha Ki Im Beyrachtani-He said I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The word Berachtani equals 682 which is equal to the phrase Hodah L'Birchasi-Acknowledge the blessing. (Baal Haturim)
Many of the commentaries deal with the question of why Yakov retained that name even after he was given the name Yisroel? The Malach of Essav had just been defeated, but he would make one last attempt to prevail. He said (32:29) “Lo Yakov Yeomar Ode Shimcha Ki Im Yisroel- No longer will it be said that your name is Yakov, but Yisroel.” The name Yakov equals 182, the name Yisroel equals 541. If we take away the name Yakov (182) from Yisroel we are left with 359 which is equal to Sotan. However if we keep the name Yakov in addition to Yisroel ( Yakov V'Yisroel=729) we have the numerical value of the words Kirah Soton-Eliminate Soton.
Alternately we need a Yakov plus a Sotan to reach Yisroel. As we say in Krias Shema: B'chol Livavecha - with all our heart means with both our drives. We must learn to love Hashem with both the Yetzer Tov and the Yetzer Horah. Without him there is no choice in the world. His true objective is to challenge us to fail so that we may overcome him and grow from the challenge.
(32:31) “Vayikra Yakov Shaim Hamokem Pene'ale - Yakov named the place Pene'ale.” In the very next posuk Hashem calls the place Penuael? Yakov had a very personal reason for naming the place. He had just overcome his greatest obstacle, Essav's malach. For him the place represented Hashem turning his face towards him to save him. (Pani- ale) Hashem on the other hand named the place for the future generations. So that when a person is tested he should turn towards Hashem (Penu-ale). The numerical value of the word Pene'ale is 171 the same as the word Lehatzilo- to be saved. The word Penu'ale equals 167 the same as the word Anisenu - to be tested.
(32:26) “Vayar Ki Lo Yachal Lo Vayiga B’kaf Yerecho-And when he (the angel) saw that he was unable to overpower him (Ya'akov), he touched the spoon of his thigh .…”
The angel wanted to discover whether Ya'akov was not an angel like himself, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains. He could not conceive how a human being could possibly contain him, so he felt his thigh to see whether he had the necessary joints that enable a person to sit. An angel never sits, so he does not have those joints. Alternatively, he deliberately wounded him, causing him to become blemished and thereby disqualifying him from serving as a Kohen. Ya'akov had of course, bought the birthright from Essav, thereby gaining the right to serve as a Kohen to bring the Korbonos on behalf of his family.
(32:33) “Al-kain Lo-Yochlu Benei Yisroel es Gid Hanoshe - Therefore the Children of Yisroel are not to eat the displaced sinew.” Why does it say that from this time on Benei Yisroel will not be permitted to eat from the Gid Hanoshe? Firstly it was the kaf that was touched, why do we not refrain from eating the whole side? The reason is because to remove the Gid requires more effort. It takes an act of extreme effort to make up for the lack of effort that the tribes exhibited by not accompanying their father.
The Zohar takes a different point of view. The Benei Yisroel can no longer eat from the Gid Hanoshe because this muscle constitutes the physical support for the genital organs, which are the source of impure elements. The sciatic nerve surrounds and fortifies these organs and so eating this muscle has the effect of attracting the forces of impurity towards man. The word Hanoshe is derived from the word Noshe to forget. When man eats it he forgets himself and his obligation to Hashem. Essav's angel was able to find this one weak spot possibly due to the fact that Yakov married two sisters. History has born out this point which enemies were able to attack in many generations. We see by the daughters of Moav, which resulted in numerous deaths. And by the foreign wives of Shlomo Hamelech who turned him to Avodah Zora and led to the division of Klal Yisroel.
(33:8) “Vayomer Mi Lecha Kol Hamachaneh Hazeh- And he said to whom does all this camp that I encountered belong?” Rashi explains the Midrash with reference to the camp of Angels that fell upon Essav and his men and began beating them, when they told them who they were. When the y mentioned that Essav was the son of Yitzchok, the beating continued. They said he was the grandson of Avraham but the situation did not improve. It was only when they pointed out that Yakov was his brother , that the beatings came to a halt, because , the angels said “In that case you are part of us.”
According to this Midrash Yakov’s answer “To find favor in the eyes of my master” is difficult to understand? Since when does a good beating elicit favor in the eyes of the recipient? The Oznayim L’Torah answers that this is the language the Essav understands. He can relate to power, war heroes, Mighty warriors. Yakov knew that the best way to gain Essav’s admiration was through a display of strength.
This could answer two other questions. First when Yakov sent word to Essav saying “Im LavanGarty- I lived by Lavan” His message was that he still kept all the mitzvos. Why would this impress Essav? He was not interested in Torah and Mitzvos? Secondly after their meeting Essav proposes that they travel side by side together. Why would Essav, who hated his brother to the point where he wanted him dead. now wish to travel side by side with him? But according to what we just said Essav saw his brother transformed. Where previously he had been Ish Tam Yoshev Ohelim- A simple man dwelling in tents. Now he became an accomplished man of the world. He had riches and power and although he had taken Essav’s role in being a man of the world he never forsook his Torah teachings. Whereas Essav thought you can’t have both worlds, Yakov proved that the Torah is total and that we can elevate every aspect of this world. And this perhaps is why Essav now wished to accompany Yakov. He saw a knew person. No longer the tame Yakov but now Yisroel.
(33:10) “Vayomer Yakov ..Ki Al kain Ro'isi Ponecha K'rios Pnei Elokim-Yakov said for as much as I have seen your face, as one sees the face of Hashem.” What does Yakov mean here? How could seeing Esav's face be like seeing the face of Hashem? The Gemarrah learns from here that you are permitted to flatter a Rasha. But perhaps we can say that the meanings of Yakov’s words are the following. Yakov was born holding on to the heels of Essav. This represents future events in that at the end of days all mankind will return to Hashem. As we say “Bayom Hahu Yihiyeh Hashem Echod Ushimo Echad-On that future day Hashem will be one and His name will be one.” It will be the mission of the descendants of Yakov to make Hashem known in the world and bring all of mankind back into the fold. This is the meaning of Yakov's gesture of holding Essav's heel. In this verse as well Yakov, after defeating the angel of Essav now sees Essav's face and detects a trace of G-dliness in him. There is still hope for Essav, there is still hope for mankind. In fact we know that Essav's face (ie. His head) is buried in the Moros Hamachpelah along with the Avos. Yakov is doing more than just flattering Esaav. He is planting within him hope.
16-17) “Vayoshev Bayom Hahu Essav Lidarko Seirah-And Essav returned on that day, towards Seir." Targum Yonoson writes that a miracle was performed. Essav returned on that day, meaning he travelled to Seir in one day! This was done for Yakov to be able to have the space he needed from his brother.
(33:16-17) “Vayoshev Bayom Hahu Essav Lidarko Seirah- Ve'Yakov Nosa Sukos-And Essa returned on that day, towards Seir and Yakov went to Sukos.” For Essav the goal is Seir for Yakov it is Sukos. The names of these two places reveal the difference between the twin brothers ideologically. For Essav the highest expression of the religious ideal is the Saier Hamishtaleach- The Scapegoat which is performed on Yom Kippur. Two identical goats are selected for sacrifices, one for the Azzazal and one for Hashem. Like the two brothers on the surface they may seem alike. In fact the two goats must look identical. This is a direct connection to Essav who is called “Eish Saier.” This idea includes the principal of absolution. But for Yakov the thought goes much further to Sukos following Yom Kippur. The purity acquired during Yom Kippur must transcend this to a higher level of service to Hashem that of the pure joy in doing the mitzvos. This is Sukos -Z'man Simchasenu, the festival of joy. Other religions have tried to imitate the Jewish holidays but could never attain the lofty levels of Kiddusha and Simcha that is Sukos. So in their final meeting the two brothers go their separate ways. Essav to Seir and Yakov to Sukos.
This could also explain why in the days of Moshiach the Mitzvah of Sukos was chosen as the one to be given to the Gentiles to see if they can can keep the Torah. Since it is their nature to only be able to relate as far as Yom Kippur, Sukos is beyond them. Just like the Ark of Noach, which would not accept anyone that was not Roiy (worthy)? So too the Sukkah will not accept those who are not Roiy. (Worthy)
Throughout the narrative about Yakov much attention is given to the monetary aspects of his life. How he went from being penniless when he came to Lavan to his confrontation with Essav and all the wealth he amassed in the years he was apart from his father. Even in this parsha much attention is given to even the small pachim which were left behind when he crossed his camps over the river. Rashi comments that Tzadikim care about even the smallest of their possessions because they take such care to make sure that they came into their possession in the purest manner. Why all this attention to materialism?
Yakov's mission in this world was to transform every aspect of the physical world to Kiddusha. He had to survive twenty years with a thief as his father in law. He had as his soul mate for this mission Rachel. Together they came through all of this and even facing his brother Essav. He divided his people into two camps one for this world (the physical) and one for the spiritual world. Having accomplished all of this he was now ready to assume a new role, that of Yisroel and for this part of his mission he had Leah as his soul mate. Not coincidentally very soon after his name was changed we find that Rachel died. He would now have Leah to spend eternity with him in the Moros Hamachpela.
After Yakov met with Essav he arrived at Shechem Shalaim (whole). How is it possible that Yakov was able to fight with a Malach physically? Yakov was able to elevate his physical body to the level of his Neshama. Like Adom before the chet, his Neshama wanted the same things that his physical body wanted. The word Shalaim represents the letters Shin for Shofar, Lamed for Lulav, and Mem for Magilla. The Shin that stands for shofar represents the Neshama that was blown into man. The spiritual side of man. The Lamed for lulav represents the spine or the physical side of man. And the Mem of Magilla represents the overcoming of Amalek which is the Yetzer Hora in man. When we overcome that, the spiritual and physical will be as one again like Adom before the chet.
(35:19) “Vatikover Baderech Efrosah-And was buried on the road to Ephrath.” With regard to Rachel, everything occurred in the open. As for Leah it was different. Everything surrounding her life is shrouded in mystery. Yakov didn’t know that he was working seven years for her. He did not know that Leah was the one he spent his first night with. And her death is not even mentioned in the Torah whereas Rachel’s tomb stands as a monument on a main thoroughfare. The veil over Leah’s life had a beneficial effect in that it produced exemplary children. The Gemarrah (Tanis 8b) says that “Blessings rest only upon those things hidden from view.” Leah was blessed with both Malchus (Yehudah) and Kehunah (Levi) Kingdom and Priesthood, both from her offspring.
There is no mentioning of the death of Rivka in the Torah. There is only a hint at the mentioning of the death of Devorah. Why is there no mention of her death? Rashi say's that so people should not curse the mother who gave birth to Essav. The Ramban doesn't like this answer because for one thing the death of Leah is not brought either? Another reason is because the death of Yitzchok is brought at the end of this parsha and he was the father of Essav. Instead he quotes the Midrash Tanchuma which states that when Rivka died there was no one to bury her. Avraham had passed away, Yitzchok was blind, Yakov was in Padan Aram and Essav hated her. What they did then was benei Ches buried her at night so no one would see. Therefore the Torah only hints at this funeral.
The Gemarrah states that of the three partners in the creation of a child. The mother contributes the flesh and sinews, the basic physicality of man. This is why she would be held responsible for the outcome of her son Esav.
(35:8) “V’Tomus Devorah M’nekes Rivka Vatikover M’tachas ...Tachas H’ailone Vayikra Shmo Ailone Bochus-Devorah, Rivka’s nursemaid, died, and she was buried under the oak tree, He named it Weeping Oak.” It was named that because of the excessive weeping, on the part of Yakov, for his mother. It is interesting that soon after, Yakov not only lost his mother, but his beloved spouse as well. Both in the same year, approximately the same time. Rivka was 122 years old at the time of her death.
(35:22) “Vayelech Reuvein Vayishkav es Bilhah Pilegesh Aviv-Reuvein went and lay with Bilhah, his fathers concubine.” Rashi explains that it means he disturbed the couch of his father, which was considered as if he had lain with her. The Kabbalists write that Efraim and Menasha were destined to be conceived that night from Yakov. But because he interfered they were not born. This was considered as if he had lain with his father’s wife. But if this were so, why could Yakov not be with Bilhah the next night? He could just as easily have moved the couch back? The Maharal explains that Reuvein had to actually commit a sin with Bilhah in order that his father Yakov could no longer live with her. Reuvein’s intention did not come to fruition because he was overcome by a feeling of Teshuva. In the world of absolute purity, in which Yakov operated, Reuvein’s mere intention was enough to force Yakov away from Bilhah. His reasoning originally for moving into Bilhah’s tent was to fulfill the prophecy that nations would descend from her. When she died he assumed it was meant to be from Bilhah. The fact that Efraim and Menashe were eventually considered like Yakov's own sons makes even more sense because they were worthy of being the sons of Yakov.
After the incident of Dinah's abduction and the subsequent destruction of Shechem, Yakov say's to Shimon and Levi (34:30) “You have made trouble for me ..and I am few in numbers.” (Ve'ani Mesai Mispar) Right after this Hashem tells Yakov to go to Beis Eil. There he instructs his sons to “rid themselves of all foreign gods in their midst.” What were they doing with these Idols in the first place? And why here are they told to remove them?
The reason for the inhabitants of Shechem decree of death was in part due to the fact that they should have kept the seven mitzvos of Noach, which include the prohibition of Idol worship. Yakov and his household feared that the neighboring nations upon hearing what had transpired in Shechem would join forces to attack Yakov's household for unjustly murdering the inhabitants of Shechem. They therefore brought proof of Shechem's transgression along with them. Now after successfully arriving at the land of Canaan they no longer needed the Idols along as proof. Also the fact that they were going into Eretz Yisroel, where the land itself spits out transgressors, they needed to purify themselves before entering the land.
Yakov uses the term Ani when saying that they are few in numbers. Why use this term instead of “we” are few in numbers. When Binyamin was born his mother called him Ben Oni. The word Oni has the same letters as Ani which refers to this lack of numbers. So by saying Ani he was referring to Binyamin who was not yet born. The difference between Binyamin, which completed their numbers, and Ben Oni is 43. Yakov is immediately commanded to go to Beis Eil, the place where Hashem promised to protect them, and there he changes its name to El Beis Eil. The word El equals 31 which when added to the twelve equals the 43 that was the difference between Ben Oni and Binyamin.
(35:10) “Vayomer-Lo Elokim Shimcha Yakov Lo Yikorei Shimcha Ode Yakov Ki Im Yisroel-Elokim said to him Your name is Yakov. No longer will your name be Yakov, but Yisroel will be your name.” This posuk confirms what the Malach told him earlier (32:29) “Lo Yakov Yaiomer Ode Shimcha-No longer will your name be called Yakov” but there seems to be a discrepancy in the two verses. The earlier verse implies that the name Yakov will no longer be used while in this verse Hashem is adding to the name Yakov? We know that this malach was the Sar of Essav. He was therefore working in Essav’s interest. The name Yakov, which comes from Eikev meaning heel or lowly place, was to remind him of where he came from. His humble beginnings. The malach wanted Yakov to leave that behind and only use this new name of status. Yisroel meaning you have contended with G-dly beings. Now you have status, forget your humbleness. Hashem said you are not only Yakov but also Yisroel. You should not forget where you came from.
At the end of the parsha it lists the ten heads of the tribe of Essav. But they were listed previously in posuk 15. Why are they listed again? At the end it lists ten heads (aloof) the tenth being the apex. That was Rome. In reality the posuk lists eleven but there were really only ten, what was this extra one? The Torah wanted to show that the blessings of Yitzchok were fulfilled in Essav. The eleventh one was Erom which wasn't really one of the heads of Essav but rather a description. In Tehillem it talks about a vine planted by Hashem that will be uprooted by chazir. This is a reference to Rome because the chazir is an animal that shows it is kosher on the outside. Because it has the signs of a kosher animal (split hooves). And they use the word Yar. The ayin in the word Yar is suspended. This is a reference to the one who united the world. That was Christianity the one who was suspended, meaning the one who they hung up. So the end will be that we will return (chazir) from the rule of Rome and that eventually the end will be everything going back from the rule of Essav's descendants.
(35:10) "Va'yikro es shmo Yisroel-He will be called Yisroel” - The Ari z"l says that we are called Bnei YISROEL, because the letters Yud-Sin-Reish-Alef-Lamed encompass all the names of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs whose names begin with the above letters. Avrohom - Alef, Yitzchok - Yud, Yaakov - Yud, Soroh - Sin, Rivkoh - Reish, Rochel - Reish, Leah - Lamed
(35:18) "Vatikro shmo Ben Oni v'oviv koro lo Vinyomin-” - Why didn't Yaakov follow the wish of Rochel's name choice? These even seem to be her final words on this earth.
I heard in the name of Rav Aaron Drillich that we see from this the high esteem in which Yaakov and his wife Rochel held each other. Rochel named her son after his father Yaakov who declared in Breishis 49:3 "Kochi v'reishis ONI." She therefore called him Ben ONI, the son of Yaakov who accomplished the phenomenal feat of "reishis oni," my first strength, when siring Reuvain. This takes on even more significance in light of the fact that Reuvein was the child born of the mistaken union between Yakov and Leah when Rochel voluntarily gave over her dream of being with Yakov. Yaakov, on the other hand, named his son after his wife Rochel, Ben YOMIN, saying that he was the son of his right hand, namely Rochel.