Sunday, December 11, 2016

Vayishlach 5777

The Torah Portion of Vayishlach 

Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yochanan Yitzchak Ben Nachum z"l 
L'ilui Neshamat R' Yaakov Ben Matisyahu HaLevi z"l
L'ilui Neshamat Esther Mushka Bat Yaakov HaLevi z"l
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaya Basha Bat Esther
L'refuat Hanefesh V'lrefuat Haguf L'Etan Naphtali Ben Zehava
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Rivkah Goldah Bat Chaya Basha 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Shimon Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Simcha Pearl Bat Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Moshe Shlomo Ben Rivkah Goldah
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Chaim Sh'muel Ben Rivkah Goldah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Avital Bat Rut
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Bracha Devorah 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Michael Itzhak Nesshael Ben Avital 
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'Naomi Chana Bat Chaya Basha and
L'refuat Hanefesh V'l'refuat Haguf L'kol Am Yisrael V'l'geulah Hashleima Bekarov

"...I have sojourned with Lavan..."  (Bereisheet 32:5)

Rashi explains this to mean that "I kept the 613 commandments...", since the Gematria of the Hebrew word "Garti" (in English: "I have sojourned") is 613.  This presents a difficulty, since there are many Mitzvot such as the laws relating to a Kohen and the laws related to Leprosy, etc., that Yaakov did not fulflll, so how was it possible for him to say that he observed the 613 Mitzvot? In answer to this, it has been explained in Kiryat Sefer (in the Introduction, Chapter 7), that it is possible for every person to fulfill all the 613 Mitzvot, by means of reading and learning about each and every Mitzvah in the Torah, for learning about the Mitzvot is equivalent to performance of the Mitzvot.  This is similar to what is written by the Sifrei (on the Torah Portion of Shalach) about the verse "and you will remember and do all the Mitzvot of Hashem"; from this verse we see that remembrance of the Mitzvah is similar to performing the Mitzvah.  That is to say, that by reading about them and accepting upon himself that if he had been commanded  to do them he would fulfill them, it's thought of as if he did perform them.  

"And Yaakov was very frightened and he was distressed..."  (Bereisheet 32:8)

Rashi says that he was frightened  that perhaps he would be killed, and he was distressed that perhaps he would kill others.  The Sages say that Rebbe Meir is referred to as "others".  Since Rebbe Meir came from the Caesar Niron, who was a descendent of Eisav, Yaakov was afraid that he would kill Eisav and Rebbe Meir would not come out from Eisav.

"And Yaakov was very frightened..."  (Bereisheet 32:8)

The Targum Yonatan explains that he was frightened because he didn't perform the Mitzvah of honoring his father for 20 years.  And also regarding the verse "Deliver me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Eisav, for I fear him" (Bereisheet 32:12), the Targum Yonatan explains, that "for I fear him" means that Yaakov was afraid of Eisav because Eisav performed the Mitzvah of honoring their father.

"And Yaakov was very frightened and he was distressed..." (Bereisheet 32:8)

There are those that explain, that the reason that he was distressed was because he was afraid at all, since Hashem had promised him to guard over him.

"He prepared himself for three things, for a gift, for prayer, and for war (Rashi on Bereisheet 32:10)

There are those that ask, if he prepared himself for prayer, why does he also need to give a gift and to prepare himself for war?  The answer is that we need to do things by natural means and to give gifts, etc., but  also we need to pray that the gifts will help and also that we will succeed in war. 

"Deliver me, I pray Thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Eisav..."  (Bereisheet 32:12)

It is written in the Zohar that someone who prays needs to explicitly specify the matter he is praying about, and the proof is that Yaakov specified "from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Eisav".  Even though the Holy One Blessed Be He knows everything, it is still necessary to be explicit. 

"And You had said 'I will surely do good with you...' (Literally, 'doing good, I will do good')" (Bereisheet 32:13)

[Translator's Note: In Hebrew, there is a repetitive language in this verse, "Heiteev, Aiteev", which is usually translated as "I will surely do good".  These two words are verbs which are both related to the noun "Tov", which means "Good".  The first word "Heiteev" literally means "doing good," and the second word "Aiteev" means "I will do good".]  When a person is asked "How are you?", the way to answer is to say "Thank G-d, it's good for me", and when he answers that way, the Holy One Blessed Be He says, "If you are happy with your portion and don't have complaints against Me, then also 'I will do good', I will add to you additional goodness."  And that is the explanation of "Heiteev, Aiteev" (in English, literally: "Doing good, I will do good");  if you say "It's good for me", Hashem will add for you more goodness.

"...and put a space between each group..." (Bereisheet 32:17)

The Sages say that Yaakov prayed that if G-d forbid it is decreed that Israel should have suffering, at least the suffering shouldn't come all at one time, but there should be space between each suffering and the next one.

"...and his eleven children..."  (Bereisheet 32:23)

Rashi explains that Deena was in a box.  And the Gr"a ztz"l asks, from where did Rashi know that it was Deena that was in the box, perhaps it was a different child?  And the explanation is related to what the Sages say: that the Temple was built in the portion of Binyamin, because he didn't bow down to Eisav.  Therefore, if it had been one of the sons who was in the box, it would have been necessary to build the Temple in that son's portion for also he wouldn't have bowed down, if he had been placed inside the box.  But rather, it is necessary to say that all of the sons bowed down except for Binyamin who had not yet been born.  Therefore it must be that only Deena was inside the box.   And there are those that add that "Mordechai didn't kneel and didn't bow" (Megillat Esther 3:2), for he was from the seed of Binyamin and Haman was from the seed of Eisav.  Therefore Mordechai didn't bow down just like Binyamin.

"...and a man wrestled with him..." (Bereisheet 32:25)

Rashi says that this was the guardian angel of Eisav.  The Chafetz Chaim explains why we don't find that the guardian angel of Eisav came to fight with Avraham or Yitzchak as he did with Yaakov.  The reason is that Avraham represents  the quality of Chesed (kindness), and the evil inclination doesn't strongly oppose the doing of kind acts.  And Yitzchak represents the quality of service, that is to say, Gevurah (strength), and also on that the evil inclination is willing to give in if necessary.  But about Yaakov it is stated "Give truth to Yaakov ..." (Micah 7:20), and the truth is the Torah -- "the voice is the voice of Yaakov"  (Bereisheet 27:22); on this it fights with all its might.  The evil inclination puts all of its strength into fighting against the learning of Torah and is not willing to give in at all.

"and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn."  (Bereisheet 32:25)

Dawn break is a hint to the Geula (the final redemption).  This hints that there will be a war against evil until the final redemption, just as we see that there are always bad events and suffering, may Hashem have mercy.

"And he bought the parcel of ground..."  (Bereisheet 33:19)

The Gaon HaRav Yechezkel Avramski ztzk"l told that when he came to settle in Israel, he bought a small portion of ground in the Galil because of the holy words of the Ibn Ezra in this Torah Portion about the verse "And he bought the parcel of ground...":  "A parcel of ground means part of a field of ground, and the verse mentions this in order to let us know that there is a great quality to the Land of Israel, and someone who has within it a portion, it is thought of as if he has a portion in the Next World", until here is the language of the Ibn Ezra.  And the Gaon HaRav Yechezkel Avramski ztzk"l said that he was never there even one time and never saw the parcel of ground, and the only reason he bought it was because of the words of the Ibn Ezra.  (from Mishmar HaLevi Al HaTorah)

The Torah Portion of Vayishlach has 145 verses. Haftora: "Chazon Ovadiah" (Ovadiah 1:1 in Trei Eser).

We say Borchi Nafshi.

May you all have a  light-filled and happy Shabbat.  Shabbat Shalom.
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

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