וישלח יעקב מלאכים לפניו אל-עשו אחיו ארצה שעיר שדה אדום
Yaakov sent Malachim ahead of him, to his brother Eisav, to the land of Seir, the field of Edom
Yaakov was finally returning home after his long asylum from his murderous brother Eisav. The problem was, Eisav seemingly hadn’t changed a bit. The Torah says that Yaakov sent Malachim ahead of him, to present gifts and tributes to Eisav. The hope was to avoid confrontation. These Malachim would seemingly be messengers, which is a valid translation of the term. However, Rashi stresses that he sent literal Malachim. The Term Malach is usually reserved for Angels. This means, according to Rashi, that Yaakov sent Angels ahead of him to Eisav. Why? What was the purpose?
Continue reading “Vayishlach 5784”
See, my son
ותהר לאה ותלד בן ותקרא שמו ראובן כי אמרה כי-ראה יקוק בעניי כי עתה יאהבני אישי
Leah conceived and gave birth to a boy. She called his name “Reuven”, for she said: “Since Hashem saw (“Ra’ah”) my suffering, for now my husband will love me”
Yaakov and his wives were in an uncomfortable predicament. Yaakov intended to marry Rochel, but was tricked by his father-in-law Lavan and ended up marrying her sister Leah. Afterwards Yaakov married Rochel as well. Rochel was Yaakov’s primary wife, and Leah felt rejected. At the same time, Rochel was barren, and Leah immediately conceived. She gave birth to a son, and named him “Reuven”, a contraction of “Reu” (see) and “Ben” (son). She said the reason for this name is that Hashem saw (“Ra’ah”) her suffering, for now her husband will love her, having given him a child.
Continue reading “Vayeitzei 5784”
ויתרצצו הבנים בקרבה ותאמר אם-כן למה זה אנכי ותלך לדרש את-יקוק
The babies jostled within [Rivka]. She said: “If so, why did I pray for children?” [So] she went to seek [guidance] from Hashem
When Rivka was expecting twins, Yaakov and Eisav, she had a difficult time. No, not the usual struggles of pregnancy. Our Sages tell us that when Rivka would stand near shuls and study halls, Yaakov would try to “run” out of her womb towards them. When Rivka would pass by houses of idol worship, Eisav would try to “run” out of her womb towards them. There are many difficulties with this Midrash. How could Yaakov and Eisav, fetuses in the womb, have a sense of good and evil? How could Yaakov be drawn to good, and Eisav drawn to evil?
Continue reading “Toldos 5784”
ויאמר שוב אשוב אליך כעת חיה והנה-בן לשרה אשתך ושרה שמעת פתח האהל וגו’ ותצחק שרה בקרבה לאמר אחרי בלתי היתה-לי עדנה ואדני זקן
[The angel] said: “I shall surely return to you, at this time next year, and behold! Sarah your wife will have a son.” Sarah overheard this by the entrance to the tent…Sarah laughed inwardly, saying: “After I have dried up, I would have youthfulness? And my husband is old!”
The commentaries are bothered by Sarah’s lack of belief that she could bear a son. After all, it was an Angel of Hashem telling her that she would have a son, despite her old age. Now, some opinions hold that she and Avraham didn’t realize that these were Angels speaking to them. Or, even if Avraham knew, perhaps she didn’t see who was speaking; she just overheard some stranger saying something that sounded crazy. However, we still have a problem. Hashem Himself told Avraham in last week’s parsha that he and Sarah would have a baby boy. Why didn’t Sarah believe this supposed stranger then, who said the same thing?
Continue reading “Vayeira 5784”