Volume 22 Number 35
                       Produced: Mon Dec 11  4:02:11 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Summary of Divrei HaRav ZT'L on Vayishlach
         [Josh Rapps]
The RAV on Vayishlach
         [Yoni Mozeson]


From: <jr@...> (Josh Rapps)
Date: Thu, 7 Dec 1995 20:04 EST
Subject: Summary of Divrei HaRav ZT'L on Vayishlach

"And G-D said to Yaakov go up to Beth El and stay there.  Make an altar
there for the G-D who appeared to you when you fled from Esav your

In the next posuk Yaakov tells his family to discard the idols which
they have in preparation for the ascent to Beth El, where he would build
an altar for 'the G-D who answered me in my time of need and was with me
on the path which I traveled.'

The question is obvious: why did Yaakov change the description of G-D
from that which G-D himself had used?

There is a Mussar Haskel to be learned from the above. It is a lesson in
Vhalachta Bdrachav, emulating the ways of Hashem. The humility of Hashem
is clearly demonstrated by the way Hashem asks Yaakov to pay his
vow. Hashem only reminded Yaakov of the vow that he had taken upon
awakening from the vision of the ladder. Yaakov promised that he would
give thanks to Hashem if Hashem would return him home in peace to his
father and provide him with the bare physical necessities of life
(clothing and food). As it turned out, not only was Yaakov saved from
Esav, but many miracles were done on his behalf and he returned home a
wealthy man. However Hashem (Breishis 35:1) only asked Yaakov to build
an altar in thanksgiving for his delivery from Esav, i.e. to fulfill the
conditions of his original vow. Hashem did not ask for the complete
Hakaras Hatov (recognition for all the kindness of Hashem) which would
have included such major miracles as the defeat of Shechem, protection
from reprisals of the neighboring lands, his deliverance from Lavan and
the wealth he amassed.  Yaakov understood on his own that he owed Hashem
a tremendous Hakaras Hatov. Hence his announcement to his family that he
was to build an altar to Hashem who answered him in all the times of
trouble and who accompanied him throughout all his travails. the Mussar
Haskel is for us to emulate the ways of Hashem and the response of
Yaakov.  One who is in a position to grant a favor to another should not
limit his largesse to the minimum amount requested. In turn the one
requesting should show proper Hakaras Hatov that recognizes the complete
scope and extent of the favors that were done for him (e.g. the concept
of Chesed Shel Emes).

When Avrohom defeated the four kings the posuk says "Do not fear,
Avrohom, your reward is very great".  The Ramban comments that Avrohom
was afraid that the kings whom he had just defeated would regroup and
attack him.  About this G-D tells him not to worry.  When Moshe was
about to enter into battle with Og G-D told him not to fear him.
However, when Yaakov fears Esav "and Yaakov was very afraid and it
pained him" G-D does not tell him not to be afraid!

The Rov (Rabbi Soloveitchik z"l) explained that in the cases of Avrohom
and Moshe each was concerned about a one time conflict.  (Ed: Hashem
anticipated the fear of Avraham and Moshe and calmed them before they
could even express the fear they felt). Yaakov however foresaw a
conflict down through the ages.  "Until I come to my master to Seir"
upon which the Medrash, noting that there is no posuk stating that
Yaakov actually came to Seir, refers this to the coming to Seir in the
times of Moshiach "and the redeemers will ascend Mt Zion to judge the
mountain of Esav".  Yaakov fears, and expresses his fear of, the
struggle with Esav which begins here and stretches out across the
millenia.  Of this struggle it cannot be said not to be afraid; the
conflict is too long and bitter.

Chazal interpret the displacement of the thigh of Yaakov as the loss of
Jews to the Jewish nation in the time of shmad.  Can Yaakov be reassured
not to fear Esav in such a protracted struggle?  Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi and
Antoninus were the closest of friends, yet when Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi went
to see this "friend" he first consulted the parasha of Vayishlach.  The
struggle is too long and the gap between Yaakov and Esav is too wide and
unbridgeable.  This is why Yaakov was afraid, yet G-D could not reassure

The Rav concluded this shiur with the following observation: "Vayira
Yaakov M'od Vayetzer Lo". Rashi comments Vayira Yaakov that he should
not be killed and Vayetzer Lo that he should not kill others. The Rav
commented that Yaakov knowing that the conflict with Esav will continue
through the ages was afraid that Bnay Yisrael would not in turn adopt
the modus operandi of Esav, that of Yadayim Y'dei Esav, and sinking to
the level of an Esav.

(c) Dr. Israel Rivkin, Gershon Dubin, Arnie Lustiger, Josh Rapps
Permission to reprint in any form, with this notice, is hereby
granted. These summaries are based on notes taken by Dr. Rivkin at the
weekly Moriah Shiur given by the Rav ZT'L over many years.


From: <YONI_MOZESON@...> (Yoni Mozeson)
Date: Thu, 7 Dec 1995 11:42:45 -0500
Subject: The RAV on Vayishlach

I spent the better part of last Sunday summarizing this tape of the Rav. 
[I'm going to assume this means Rav Soloveicheck, but it is requested of
posters to please identify such terms explicitly. Mod.]

The RAV - Parshat Vayishlach

The reading of the Torah (Kriat Ha Torah) on a Holiday (Yom Tov) is
always tied to the theme of that Yom Tov. (It's derived from the Posuk "
"Vayidaber Moshe es moadey Hashem el Benei Yisrael") But on Shabbos
some are of the opinion that there is no concept of reading what is
pertinent to the day ( "Inyonei Deyoma"). The Torah was just divided up
into a a 3-year or 1-year cycle. The Rav, however, believes there is a
concept of "Inyonei Deyoma."  Namely each Shabbos has it's own theme,
it's own motif. Just like on Yom Tov you can't read the wrong Parsha,
the same is true for reading the wrong Parsha on a any particular
Shabbos. Because every Shabbos has a theme. Even when a Jew writes a
letter, he writes the day of the week and the Parsha. It's actually the
topic, not just for Shabbos, but for the whole week.

Creation, for example, (Briat Olam) is the theme of Parshat
Breishis. Reward and punishment (Schar Veonesh) is the theme of Noach,
Lech Lecha is the covenant.

Vayishlach is the war against Amoleik. (Milchemet Amoleik). We already
came across this conflict in Toldot with the confrontation of Avraham
and Avimelech and the five kings and Avraham and Lot.

The whole Sefer Breishis is not just the story of what happened, it also
foretells what will happen. Nachmonides ( the Ramban) calls it Sefer
Simanim - the book of signs. It reflects the destiny of the Jewish
People (Kineset Yisrael). (Nachmonides calls Sefer Shemot Sefer Geulah).

The motif of Vayishlach is the destiny of the Jew. Vayishlach is the the
climax of the confrontation of Jew and Non Jew. The Midrash and the
Yerushalmi say that when ever Rav Yehudah Hanosi had a confrontation
with the Roman Governor he would first study Parshat Vayishlach
carefully for guidance. And the one time he didn't, he encountered many

22:25 "And Jacob was left alone and there wrestled a man with him"
("Vayivoser Yaacov Levado") There is something that Yaacov encountered
with this unknown protagonist that is even more terrible than his
encounter with Eisav. When it comes to Eisav, Yaacov knew who he was
dealing with and Yaacov knew exactly what two complaints motivated
Eisav's anger. But this encounter was with the unknown. When Yaacov
asked him his name he refused to say - which means, I am everything and
I am nothing. The most horrible characteristic of our destiny is that a
Jew never knows who's going to attack. For example, Socialist Literature
at the turn of the century promised that the end of capitalism would
mean the end of anti-semitism. But the Communists turned out to be one
of our worst enemies. Anti Semitism has no historical rules or
logic. Another characteristic that made the confrontation so frightening
is that they never reconciled.

The antagonist never promised peace. He gave Yaacov a blessing but he
didn't say that from now on, they will be friends. The impression you
get is that he was saying: "'I'll be seeing you again". I'm prevented
from finishing the conflict this time, but don't think for a moment that
I'll disappear".

The Parsha ends with a long, detailed list of all the kings of
Eisav. Why was it necessary? The Torah's telling us that even if Yaacov
is successful in settling his conflict with Eisav now, we'll meet him
again and again. Sometimes we'll win, sometimes he'll win. This will
continue until the Mashiach when - 36:31 ..."there reigned a king of the
children of Israel" ("meloch melech beyisrael")

Yaacov will finally prevail. But there is a long history until we get
there. The very next confrontation was with Amoleik.  Exodus 17:8 " Then
came Amoleik and fought with Israel in Rephidim ( "Vayavoh Amolei
Vayiruv Beyisrael berefidim.")

On the verse 32:26 " And Jacob's thigh was strained ("Vatekev kaf regel
Yaacov"), Chazal say this that hints at "Dor shel shmad." How many times
have we lived through mass destruction. We just lived through such a
time. But the fact that Yaacov was injured means that there will be
damage inflicted upon us.  An injured tendon incapacitates one from

What was it that Eisav really wanted? What did the mysterious antagonist
want?  If Eisav wanted the blessing that Yaacov got from his father, he
had plenty of time to take it - by taking over the land of
Israel. That's exactly the message that Yaacov conveyed to Eisav in the
beginning of the Parsha. 32:5 " I have sojourned with Leban and stayed
until now" ("Im Lavan Garti voechar ud ata" ) He was telling Eisav that
he was delayed for 20 years and he had no army to stop Eisav. He was a
poor Sheppard. Yet Eisav didn't go after the land of Israel. So
obviously that's not what he's after.

Eisav betrayed himself and tells Jacob what he's really after in 33:12 "
Let us take a journey and let us go together.

Eisav's anger is typical of modern anti Semites. They can't understand
why Jews have to be so different.  "We celebrate Holidays in a unique
way, we raise children in a unique way, we write differently. A Jew
mourns differently. A Jew rejoices differently. We have a different
calendar system. etc. The non Jew asks why do we care about the Land of
Israel, what do we need it for? Sometimes this question comes from our
friends not our enemies. We want a non Jew to see Jerusalem through our
eyes. And understand it's holiness (Kedusha). But it's impossible.

This is exactly what transpired between Eisav and Yaacov. Eisav said
there can be no real peace between us if you live in Israel and I live
at Sier. Let's travel together on the same historical paths. We'll be
brothers. We'll be the same. Yaacov answers and says that he'll go
slowly and meet Eisav in Seir. 33:14

"...until I come unto my lord in Seir"

But Yaacov did not change his destination. 33:16 "So Esau returned that
day on his way unto Seir. And Jacob journeyed to Succoth" The Medrash
says: (Medrash Raba - Vayishlach 78:18) Reb Abuhu said we looked through
the whole Bible and we don't ever see that Yaacov went to Eisav on the
mountain of Seir in his lifetime... could Yaacov had been deceiving
Eisav? ...Rather he did indeed go.  As found in Obadiah 1:21 " And the
saviors shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; And the
kingdom shall be the Lord's" (Ve-olu moshiyim ..) The Haftorah ends with
this very same verse from Obadiah signifying that Yaacov will join Eisav
one day, but only on Yacov's terms.  If Yaacov had joined Eisav
immediately it would have been on Eisav's terms. When the Messiah will
come Jacob will pay the visit to Eisav that he promised. But Eisav will
have to accept Hashem and live under Yaacov's terms. Just as the final
words of the HafTorah imply: " and the kingdom shall be the Lord's"


End of Volume 22 Issue 35