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Rabbi Oizer Alport

Parsha Potpourri
Parshas Vayishlach Vol. ,9Issue 8 Sponsored by Marc Miller of MHP Real Estate Services 30years of Manhattan-based office leasing expertise )32:14( In describing the gifts that Yaakov sent in an effort to pacify his irate brother Eisav, the Torah uses a peculiar expression, stating that Yaakov took an offering for Eisav from the animals which were in his hand. What does it mean that the animals he sent were in his hand, and what is the significance of this seemingly trivial fact? Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank explains this unusual phrase based on a fascinating insight of the Tashbatz ,)553(which is quoted by the Darkei Moshe (Yoreh Deah .)35:1After ritually slaughtering an animal, an intricate examination of its organs must be performed to make sure that none of them is damaged in a way that renders the animal forbidden for consumption. The Tashbatz describes an interesting test by which a person can determine if an animal is unhealthy and non-kosher even while it is still alive (although it isnt foolproof and should not be relied upon for matters of practical kashrus). The test is to run ones hand over the back of the animal. An animal which crouches and drops to the ground is kosher, while one which remains standing is not. The verse in Yeshaya )57:15( alludes to this test: the lowly of spirit will live, a hint that those animals which drop to the ground (representing a low spirit) are physically healthy and fit to live. Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank explains that Yaakov found himself in a dilemma. On the one hand, he was compelled to send gifts to appease his angry brother Eisav. At the same time, Yaakov didnt want to give him animals which were fit to be brought as sacrifices, lest Eisav offer them for idolatrous purposes. His brilliant solution was to send those animals which remained in his hand and didnt drop to the ground, thereby revealing an internal blemish and disqualification. )32:33( The Torah teaches that as a result of the angels wounding Yaakov in his thigh, the Jewish people dont eat the sciatic nerve. The Sifsei Kohen points out that in relating the first prohibition related to eating, the Torah also hints to us all of the days of the year on which we may not eat at all. The letters in the word in our verse are abbreviations for the names of the fast of Esther ( ) and the 9th of Av ( .)The letters in the word allude to the calendar dates of the fast of Tzom Gedaliah ( ,)Yom Kippur ( ,)the 10th of Teves ( ,)the 17th of Tammuz (the numerical value of is ,)17and an additional allusion to the fast of

Esther (.)" )33:4( - " . )"( Parshas Vayishlach begins with Yaakov preparing to meet Eisav for the first time in 34years. Yaakov assumed that Eisavs feelings of anger for stealing Yitzchoks blessings from him were still unabated, as evidenced by the fact that he was approaching him with a daunting army of 400men. Yaakov prepared for this fateful reunion by sending his brother a lavish gift of many animals in an attempt to placate Eisavs wrath. Just prior to the climactic encounter, when Yaakov saw Eisav approaching with his 400men, Yaakov bowed down on the ground toward Eisav seven times. Seeing this, Eisav ran toward Yaakov and hugged him and kissed him. Commenting on this, Rashi quotes the opinion of Rav Shimon bar Yochai, who maintains that although Eisavs hatred of Yaakov was a constant and intrinsic part of him, in this situation genuine feelings of compassion welled up within Eisav and he kissed Yaakov with a full heart. What was unique about this interaction between them, and how was Yaakov able to overcome Eisavs innate feelings of enmity toward him? The Gemora in Kiddushin (29b) records that there was a spiritual demon residing in the study hall of Abaye, and it harmed anybody who tried to enter. When Abaye heard that Rav Acha bar Yaakov was coming to study in his yeshiva, he issued instructions that nobody should provide Rav Acha with a place to sleep. This would leave him with no choice but to sleep in the study hall, where he would hopefully destroy the demon in the merit of his Torah study and piety. As Abaye had hoped, Rav Acha found himself with nowhere to sleep and entered the study hall, at which point the demon appeared to him in the form of a seven-headed serpent. Rav Acha began to pray to Hashem, and each time he bowed down and prostrated himself, one of the serpents heads fell off. After seven bows, the serpent was destroyed. What was this demon, and in what way did Rav Acha defeat it by bowing down and prostrating himself? Commenting on this Gemora, the Maharsha writes that the serpents seven heads correspond to the seven forces of spiritual impurity that were introduced to the world by the original serpent when it enticed Chava to eat from the forbidden fruit by arguing that instead of adhering to Hashems command not to eat from the forbidden tree, she should instead act according to her own desires. The rectification of the serpents heretical outlook is to completely subjugate oneself to Hashem, and the ultimate demonstration of this obedience is bowing down in acknowledgement of ones complete and total submissiveness to Hashem, which is precisely how Rav Acha bar Yaakov was able to neutralize the demons spiritual powers that emanated from the original serpent. Similarly, the Panim Yafos suggests that Yaakovs bowing was the key to his ability to defuse Eisavs wrath toward him. He explains that Yitzchok possessed eight measures of holiness, which is hinted to by the fact that the gematria (numerical value) of his name )208(is eight times twenty-six, which is the numerical value of Hashems Ineffable Name. Of those eight measures, Yitzchok gave seven to Yaakov, whose name has a numerical value )182(equal to seven times .26Yitzchoks remaining measure of holiness was given to Eisav, who also possessed the seven forces of impurity that were introduced by the original serpent. This is alluded to by the fact that the gematria of Eisav )376(is equal to seven times fifty (the numerical value of impure) plus twenty-six, for the one measure of holiness that he received from his father. With this introduction, the Panim Yafos explains that when Yaakov saw Eisav and bowed down on the ground seven times, he wasnt prostrating himself to Eisav but rather to Hashem, as he acknowledged his complete subservience and prayed for Divine assistance to help him overpower Eisavs impurity. Just as each of Rav Acha bar Yaakovs bows removed one of the demons heads, so too did each of Yaakovs bows have the effect of negating one of Eisavs measures of spiritual impurity. After Yaakov had prostrated himself seven times, Eisavs impurity was neutralized and all that remained was one measure of holiness, which moved him to overcome his natural hatred of Yaakov and hug and kiss his brother with a full heart. Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them): )1Rashi writes )32:5(that Yaakov sent a message to his brother Eisav stating that although he had dwelled with the wicked Lavan for 20years, he had remained steadfast in his faith and had continued to keep all 613of the commandments. How is this to be understood, as it is physically impossible for any person to observe all of the mitzvos? (Ayeles HaShachar, Taam VDaas) )2After Yaakov emerged victorious from his battle with the angel, he asked the angel to reveal his name. The angel refused to divulge this information, responding ,)32:30(Why are you asking for my name?

What was the angels name, and why did he refuse to disclose it? (Chasam Sofer) )3The Gemora in Shabbos (55b) teaches that whoever says that Reuven sinned with Bilhah, as is indicated by a simple reading of the Torah, is mistaken. Rashi writes that this is derived from the fact that the Torah states )35:22(that Yaakovs sons were ,12which comes to teach that they were all equal, which could only be the case if Reuven didnt sin. How does this proof teach that Reuven never sinned when it could be that he did indeed sin but immediately repented his actions, thereby rendering him once again equal to his brothers? (Mrafsin Igri) )4After listing the 12sons of Yaakov, the Torah concludes )35:26(by stating that these are Yaakovs sons who were born to him in PaddanAram. How can the Torah say that they were all born in Paddan-Aram when Binyomin was born in Canaan (Rashi ?)35:18(Rema MiPano) Answers to Points to Ponder: )1Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman rejects the explanation that Yaakov meant that he had studied the laws of all 613mitzvos, as Rashi writes that he

)1Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman rejects the explanation that Yaakov meant that he had studied the laws of all 613mitzvos, as Rashi writes that he said that he had observed them. Instead, he suggests that because Yaakovs intention was to fulfill every mitzvah when he would have the opportunity to do so, it was considered as if he kept them all. Rav Moshe Shternbuch notes that Yaakov didnt say that he fulfilled all of the mitzvos, but rather that he was all of them. Rashi writes )37:11(that this term can be used when a person guards something in the sense that they are waiting and anxiously looking forward to its fulfillment. In this case, Yaakov was guarding the mitzvos through his desire for the opportunity to perform all of them. Rav Shternbuch adds that at present, we lack the Bais HaMikdash and all of the mitzvos which can only be performed there, but if we yearn for the time when we will have the merit to observe them, it will be considered as if we have already done so. )2Although at first glance the angel seemed to refuse to reveal its name, the Chasam Sofer suggests that the angel did indeed answer Yaakovs question. The name of an angel is a reflection of his particular mission in this world. In this case, the purpose of the angel, who was Eisavs guardian angel (Rashi ,)32:25was to teach Yaakov and all of his descendants the importance of distancing oneself from the wicked. The name that most appropriately reflects this purpose is Why are you asking for my name, which denotes the utter waste of time in being involved in any way with him and all that he represents. )3Rav Chaim Kanievsky notes that the verse stresses that all 12of the brothers were equal. If Reuven had sinned with Bilhah and immediately repented his actions, this would not be the case. Reuven would not be equal to his brothers, but would in fact be greater than them, as the Gemora (Berachos 34b) teaches that those who have sinned and repented are on an even higher level than those who never sinned at all. Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman answers that the verse equating Reuven with his brothers was written immediately after the incident with Bilhah, but Reuven didnt repent his actions until much later, as Rashi writes )37:29( that Reuven was not present when the brothers sold Yosef because he was busy fasting and donning sackcloth to atone for moving his fathers bed. Rashi also writes (Devorim )33:7that Reuven was inspired to repent by the confession of Yehuda that he was responsible for Tamars pregnancy, which only happened much later. If the verse equated Reuven to his brothers before he repented his actions, his must not have been that great and he must not have engaged in forbidden relations with Bilhah. )4The Rema MiPano explains that when Rochel gave birth to her first child, she named him Yosef, saying )30:24(Hashem should add for me another son. Because of the principle that (Tehillim )145:19 Hashem does the will of those who fear Him Rochels request for another son made it as if he was already born, and the Torah therefore views all of Yaakovs sons as having been born in Padan Aram. 2013by Ozer Alport. To subscribe, send comments, or sponsor an issue, email