TORAH READING FOR 16 KISLEV 5783 Dec 9-10, 2022
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/vayishlach
Vayishlach [וַיִּשְׁלַח (Jacob) Sent] Genesis 32:4−36:43
Jacob now sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, in the countryside of Edom. – Genesis 32:4
- Jacob prepares to meet Esau. He wrestles with a “man,” who changes Jacob’s name to Israel. (32:4-33)
- Jacob and Esau meet and part peacefully, each going his separate way. (33:1-17)
- Dinah is raped by Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite, who was chief of the country. Jacob’s sons Simeon and Levi take revenge by murdering all the males of Shechem, and Jacob’s other sons join them in plundering the city. (34:1-31)
- Rachel dies giving birth to Benjamin and is buried in Ephrah, which is present-day Bethlehem. (35:16-21)
- Isaac dies and is buried in Hebron. Jacob’s and Esau’s progeny are listed. (35:22-36:43)
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vayishlach
Hosea 11:7-12:12 (some Ashkenazim) or Obadiah 1:1-21 (Sephardim and many Ashkenazim)
Connection to the parshah
The section from the Book of Hosea mentions the deeds of Jacob, including his wrestling with an angel. The Book of Obadiah deals with God’s wrath against the kingdom of Edom, who are descended from Esau. At times Esau’s name is used as a synonym for the nation.
From The Haftarah Commentary, Gunther Plaut/Chaim Stern UAHC Press 1996 p.82
Connection of haftarah and sidra:
The sidra reports the reconciliation of Jacob and Esau (Esau’s other name was Edom); the haftarah brings us Obadiah’s prophecy concerning Edom. In the sidra, the two brothers end their long period of estrangement; the haftarah is witness to the enmity and hatred between the two peoples that characterized later centuries.
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/vayishlach
By: Rabbi Stacy Rigler
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
For Torah Study, instead of the portion from the Book of Genesis that is read on this Shabbat, we will read the Haftarah (a selection from the prophets) following this portion. This week’s Haftarah is Obadiah 1:1-21. You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Genesis.32.4-36.43 and the Haftarah we will be studying at https://www.sefaria.org/Obadiah.1.1-21
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
וישלח Vayishlach – Genesis 32:4–36:43
Another View – by Tammi J. Schneider, p. 202
VAYISHLACH BEGINS AND ENDS with references to Esau, Jacob’s twin brother. At the beginning of this parashah, it is to Esau whom Jacob sends messengers (32:4), who return with a report that he is on the move, coming to meet his brother (32:7). The parashah concludes with Esau going to another region “because of his brother Jacob” (36:6–8) and with Esau’s genealogical line, the Edomite people (36:9–42).
Esau is thus highlighted in this parashah by being the subject of the beginning and ending units. Even so, Jacob is clearly the more important character–a fate Esau has had to endure from early on. Esau is a touching figure because no matter how hard he tries, he cannot measure up to his younger brother who–though not always honest and fair in his dealings–outmaneuvers him.
What distinguishes the two brothers? How to account for Jacob’s prominence over Esau? The difference between the two begins with their mother’s decision and continues with their choices of marriage partners. God informs Rebekah–not Isaac–about their yet-to-be-born twins that “the older shall serve the younger” (25:23). Rebekah acts on this information by supporting Jacob at the expense of her other son.
Then Esau marries two Hittite women, causing his parents distress (26:34–35), whereas Jacob is sent (at his mother’s instigation) to find a wife from her own people (27:46–28:5), which he does (29:21–30). Attempting to please his parents, Esau tries again by marrying Mahalath, also a cousin like Jacob’s wives; she is the daughter of Ishmael, his father’s brother (28:8–9).
The Dinah story occurs in the middle, in between the references to Esau that frame this parashah. After Shechem–a Canaanite prince–rapes Jacob’s daughter, Jacob is indecisive about their marriage (34:5). Dinah’s two older brothers, however, respond by killing all the Shechemites so that the marriage between Dinah and Shechem does not happen, thereby keeping their sister from marrying the people in the land.
Genesis 34 reaffirms the importance of marrying the right people within the family. Together these incidents illustrate the importance of mother and wife, and not only father, in determining a person’s destiny.
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Gail Labovitz, pp. 202-204
his eleven children (32:23). Benjamin was not yet born, but didn’t Jacob already have twelve children? Midrash B’reishit Rabbah 76.9 and 80.4 suggest that Jacob hid Dinah in a box so that Esau would not see her and seek to marry her. On that basis, Jacob is castigated for lack of compassion toward his brother; as Rashi explains, perhaps by such a marriage, Esau would have returned to a path of good (on 32:23).
Dinah, Leah’s daughter … went out (34:1). B’reishit Rabbah 80.1 (also 8.12, 18.2, 45.55) and JT Sanhedrin 2:6 (20d) are among numerous sources that judge both Dinah and Leah harshly based on this verse. Both are seen to act inappropriately for women simply by going out unattended–Dinah here, and Leah when she likewise “went out” to inform Jacob, “I am the one you will bed [tonight]” (30:16).
to see the women of the locality (34:1). Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer 38 claims that they were a ruse, sent by Shechem to play timbrels outside Dinah’s tent, in order to lure her outside–where he could lay hold of her.
then, taking Dinah (34:26). Dinah is mentioned only once more in Torah, among Jacob’s descendants in 46:15. What became of her? In B’reishit Rabbah 80.11, Rabbi Huna puts into Dinah’s mouth the words of Tamar–King David’s daughter who was raped by her half-brother Amnon: “Where will I carry my shame…?” (II Samuel 13:13); he suggests that Dinah agreed to leave Shechem’s house only after her brother Simeon promised to marry her himself. Thus–based on her involvement with Shechem–Dinah is identified as the otherwise unnamed “Canaanite woman” who was the mother of Simenon’s son Saul (46:10). It was also taught that when she died, Simeon buried her in Canaan.
Another tradition found in B’reishit Rabbah 19.12 (also 57.4, 76.9, 80.4) and BT Bava Batra 15b, among other sources, is that Dinah became the wife of Job. Some versions of this tradition view Dinah’s subsequent marriage to a non-Israelite (namely, Job) as part of Jacob’s punishment for having withheld her from Esau (see the first entry, above). Alternatively, Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer 38 states that Dinah became pregnant when raped by Shechem, and she bore a daughter. Afraid of the shame that the presence of this child would bring on their community, Dinah’s brothers sought to kill the infant. Jacob, however, put an amulet with the name of God around the girl’s neck and sent her away; she was taken by the archangel Michael to Egypt, where she was adopted by a childless Egyptian priest and raised as his daughter. Dinah’s daughter, “Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On” (Genesis 41:45), later became Joseph’s wife. A further embellishment on this legend tells the story as follows: Joseph was exceedingly handsome, and when he went out, women would throw jewelry to attract his notice. Asenath tossed her amulet and when Joseph saw it, he realized their relationship and married her (Chizz’kuni to 41:45).
Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died … and was buried … under the … Oak of Weeping (35:8). The word bachut, “weeping,” is similar to the plural term b’chiyot, “weepings,” suggesting to the Rabbis that two deaths were being mourned here: the death of Deborah, and the death of Rebekah–an event not otherwise mentioned in the Torah. According to B’reishit Rabbah 81.5, this is why the verse (35:9) relates that God appeared to Jacob … and blessed him: God performed the kindness of visiting and comforting Jacob while he mourned his mother. But why is Rebekah’s death not related directly? Midrash Tanchuma, Ki Teitzei 4, explains that it was impossible to have an honorable funeral for her. Abraham was dead; Isaac, blind and weakened, could not leave his tent; and Jacob had gone abroad and could not return in time. Only Esau remained, and the continued ill feeling between him and his mother made it unlikely that he would come. Because Rebekah’s life ended in such a lonely way, the Torah hints at her passing only obliquely (see also the medieval commentator Ramban on 35:8).
as her life was leaving her … she named him Benoni, but his father called him Benjamin (35:18). Commentators generally agree that by the word oni, Rachel meant “my pain” or “my sorrow.” Rabbi Moses ben Nachman (1194–1270)–usually known as “Nachmanides” or by his initials as “Ramban”–notes here that another meaning of on is “strength,” as in 49:3, in which Jacob blesses Reuben as “first fruit of my vigor (reishit oni).” So too y’min, the right hand, stands for strength in the biblical world. Thus, Jacob does not actually change the name given by Rachel–for all Jacob’s children bear names given to them by their mothers–but rather “translates” it to its most positive interpretation.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This coming week, 16 Kislev through 22 Kislev, we lovingly remember:
Mother of Rachel Harris
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, December 9, 2022. For the next few months we will read and discuss the Haftarah, each selection from the prophets following the weekly Torah Portion.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Haftarah Vayishlach: Obadiah 1:1-21
Time: Dec 9, 2022 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Dec 9, 2022 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat/Gut Shabbos
PS – Chanukah is a little more than a week away. This year, Chanukah begins at sundown on Sunday, December 18, 2022 and ends at nightfall on Monday, December 26, 2022. We hope to meet in person on Friday, December 23, 2022, starting at 6 PM for a short service followed by a Chanukah party. If so, we would begin with lighting the Chanukiah then the Shabbat candles. In the meantime, there is growing concern about the current rise in COVID cases here in Cochise County and other options for celebrating together are being considered.
PSS – About the Book of Obadiah (listed fourth of the Trei Assar):
From Jewish Encyclopedia
From My Jewish Learning
Timelines from Wikipedia