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Shabbat Morning Class - Parasha Vayishlach

Rabbi Mansour 2010
Shabbat Morning class
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This week’s Parasha begins with Yaakov Avinu sending messengers to his
brother Eisav, to inform him that he was approaching. Yaakov Avinu prepared himself
for his meeting with Eisav by: A) sending gifts to Eisav (as a bribe) to appease him.
B) Praying to Hashem to be saved from Eisav. C) Preparing to go to war with Eisav.
"????? ????? ??? ???, ????? ?? ??? ?? ??"
"He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own, is like one who takes a dog
by the ears"
The Midrash wonders - based on this Pasuk in Mishlei- why Yaakov would alert
Eisav to his approach? Why even approach Eisav at all? This is like "grabbing a dog by
its ears"! Why didn’t Yaakov just leave the "sleeping dog" (Eisav) alone?! It seems as if
Yaakov wanted to confront Eisav in order to subjugate himself before him. Why was
this necessary??
This Parasha is a classic example of " ???? ???? ???? ????? "- "The actions of our
forefathers are a sign for the children". Everything that happened to the Avot, are
meant as a lesson for us. Yaakov Avinu in this Parasha, was giving guidance and
advice to all the future generations on how to deal with the Goyim in Galut (exile).
Yaakov surely was not physically afraid of Eisav. This was the same Yaakov that
pulled a gigantic rock off a well, and emerged victorious from a fight with an angel!
Yaakov specifically wanted to teach us how to interact with the Goyim in Exile.
This Parasha is known as "Parashat Galut". The Ramban advised, to study this
Parasha before any dealings with the Goyim because this is the Parasha in which
Yaakov Avinu teaches us exactly how to deal with them. The great Rabbis would study
this Parasha very closely before they had meetings and interaction with the Goyim.
Even today, when dealing with the Goyim we must emulate Yaakov by A) sending gifts
(bribes) to them. B) Praying to Hashem to be saves from them. C) Prepare for political
war by lobbying and being active to try and secure our needs with the government.
Rebbi Yehudah Hanasi was once dictating a letter to his student Rav Afes. This
letter was going to be sent to the Caesar Antoninus (Marcus Aurelius). When Rebbi
was proof reading the letter, he realized that his student had started the letter with the
words; "from Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi (the prince) - to the Emperor Antoninus". When
Rebbi read this, he immediately ripped up the letter. He wrote instead; from your
servant Yehudah to the Emperor Antoninus. "Why do you treat your honor so lightly?"
asked Rav Afes. "Am I better than my ancestor Yaakov?!" answered Rebbi. By Yaakov
it says " ?? ??? ???? ???? "-"so says your servant Yaakov". I too will refer to myself as a
servant when addressing the emperor.
This explains an apparent redundancy in the Pesukim. The Pasuk in which
Yaakov is instructing his messengers says; " ???? ??? ???? ?? ?????? ????? ???? "-"and he
commanded them saying so shall you say to my master Eisav". Why does it say
"saying" and then again "say"? Seemingly, the Pasuk should be written; "he
commanded them; so shall you say to my master Eisav". Why the "Extra" word ????
Whenever the Torah uses the word ???? , it is in order for it to be repeated and
said over. For example; " ????? ?' ?? ??? ???? "-"Hashem said to Moshe saying"
Hashem said something in order for him to tell it over to the people. Here too the
Pasuk says ???? , to show us that this is something that Yaakov was conveying to his
descendents. He was instructing us on how to handle our dealings with the Goyim, and
to be successful in securing our needs.
In addition to the basic instructions on how to survive in Galut, Yaakov Avinu was
also "planting the seeds" of a major salvation for the Jewish people. He was securing
the Torah Shel Baal Peh (oral Torah), and thereby insuring that both the written and
oral Torah will never be forgotten.
In order to understand how Yaakov Avinu accomplished this through his meeting
with Eisav, we must refer back to a concept that we introduced two weeks ago in
Parashat Toldot. This is the connection that we’ve learnt about, between Rabeinu
Hakadosh and Yaakov Avinu.
Rabeinu Hakadosh was deeply connected to Yaakov Avinu. The Ben Ish Chai
explains that Rabbi was actually the Gilgul (reincarnation) of Yaakov. This is hinted to
in his name ?' ????? ????? , the word ???? stands for " ??? ???? ?? ???? ????? " (he is the
spark of Yaakov Avinu).
We find this connection hinted to in several places. For example; Rebbi stated
the Mishnayot with the laws of Shema of Arbit ( ????? ????? ?? ??? ?????? ), and Arbit
was the Tefilah established by Yaakov Avinu. In addition, we see that the first three
Berachot of the Amidah correspond to the three Avot. The first Berachah corresponds
to Avraham Avinu, as it ends "Magen Avraham". The second corresponds to Yishak
Avinu, it ends with " ???? ????? " because Yishak was "revived" from the dead upon
being taken down from the alter at the time of Akeidat Yishak. The third Berachah
corresponds to Yaakov Avinu, it ends with ??? ????? . Rebbi was also called ?????
Rabeinu Hakadosh was the one who insured the perpetuation of the oral Torah.
He was the first rabbi to write down the oral Torah. Until his time the laws of the Torah
were strictly oral from father to son. It was not allowed to be written. Rebbi realized that
if he did not compile and write down the oral Torah in his time, the Torah would be
forgotten forever! The Pasuk says " ?? ????? ??' ???? ????? "-"there are times that one
must transgress for the sake of Hashem". Rebbi realized that he had to be the one to
permit the writing of the oral torah in order to preserve it for the future generations.
Without Rebbi, the Torah would have been forgotten ' ! ??
Antonenus on the other hand, was connected to Eisav Harasha. Eisav was
almost entirely evil. He did however have a little bit of good in him. The good in Eisav
finally materialized in his descendant Antoninus. Antoninus was the Gilgul of Eisav,
and in him the good of Eisav came out!
Rabeinu Hakadosh wrote the Mishnayot while Antoninus was the emperor of
Rome. Antoninus gave Rebbi full permission and authorization to write and release the
six orders of the Mishnayot (this was essential in Rebbi’s producing the Mishnayot. In
those days - and even in recent times -any religious publication, needed to be
approved and in many cases censored and edited by the government. Antoninus gave
Rebbi the ability to produce the Mishnayot unimpeded). It was therefore slightly to
Antoninus’s credit that the Mishnayot and subsequently the Gemarah came to be.
Moshe Rabeinu, with his Ruach Hakodesh realized that a time would come when
the Torah would have to be written down. The Megaleh Amukot explained 250 different
ways to understand Moshe Rabeinu’s prayer, when he prayed; "?????? ?? ?' ??? ????
????" . One explanation of Moshe Rabeinu’s prayer was that at the right time,
someone would have the courage to write down the oral Torah. The first step of which
was to compile the 6 orders of the Mishnah.
?-????? ; for the six ( ?) orders of the Mishnah- ????? (he beseeched).
??? ???? - for that ?? - which refers to the Pasuk ' ?? ????? ?? - there comes a time
when the Torah must be transgressed in order to strengthen it. (This was the Pasuk
Rebbe used in order to justify his writing of the Mishnah.)
????? ????????? ??? ???? -???? –"in the days of Antoninus king of Rome". It was with his
permission, that Rebbi wrote the Mishnayot.
This is also what is meant by the next word of Moshe’s prayer ; " ????? "-"may I
pass". The word " ????? " stands for: " ????????? ??? ???? ????? ????? "- "Antoninus made
a covenant with Rabeinu Hakadosh". This enabled him to produce the Mishnayot.
Moshe was praying that Rebbi be successful in his writing of the Mishnah, and
be successful in securing permission from Antoninus to release it to the people. This
was a crucial step in preserving the oral Torah forever.
This was one of the intentions of Yaakov Avinu in his desire to meet up with
Eisav. He was setting in motion this subjugation to Eisav in order to gain permission
from his grandson Antoninus (who, as mentioned, was Eisav’s Gilgul) to produce the
Mishnayot. This answers the question asked above concerning the "extra" word .????
He was sending messengers to Eisav; ????? ????????? ??? ????"=???? ", to gain
appeasement and permission in the times of Antoninus to preserve the oral Torah, by
writing the Mishnayot.
Yaakov was subjugating himself, and directing this request to the small bit of
good that was contained in Eisav. This good was found in Eisav’s mouth. The -??
mouth represents the oral Torah " ???? ???? ?? " that Eisav’s descendants permitted to
be released. This is why it was the head of Eisav- which contains the mouth- that
merited burial in the Mearat Hamachpela. This also explains how Yishak was "fooled"
by Eisav into attempting to give him the blessings. Yishak realized that Eisav
possessed some goodness, as the Pasuk says " ?? ??? ???? ", Yishak understood Eisav’s
goodness in his mouth and therefore desired to bless him. This is why the Pasuk says;
???? ) .????? ???? ?????? ????? lit; face) Yaakov sent the angels to connect to the good in
Eisav’s mouth to obtain this authorization to write the Torah Shel Baal Peh.
At the end of the previous Parasha (Vayetzeh) the Torah describes Yaakov’s
reaction upon seeing angels coming down towards him. "????? ???? ???? ??? ????
????? ?? ????? ?? ????? ???? ?????" -"And when Yaakov saw them, he said; this is
Hashem’s camp, and he called the place Mahanaim (camps)". The word ??? (saw) is a
unique word not found anywhere else in the Torah (it normally says ??? as opposed to
??? ). The Zohar explains that the word ??? stands for the angels that Yaakov saw:
???? ?????? ????? , and the word ?? in the Pasuk represents .??????
Yaakov Avinu saw these four angels come down to him, and he named the place
????? (camps). Why did he name it camps (which are plural)? Why not name it camp
(in the singular)? The explanation is that every time a Jew performs a Misvah, he
creates a good angel that will accompany him. Yaakov Avinu - through his many
Misvot and good deeds - had multitudes of angels that had already been with him. The
angels that came down from heaven however, were angels that were created from
??? ??? ?????? and were always in existence. This is why Yaakov called the place
Mahanaim (camps). He now had two camps, the ones he created through his Misvot
and also the angels ????? ?????? ?????? ???? that came down from Shamayim to be
with him.
This is why Rashi in this week’s Parasha describes the messengers that Yaakov
sent as " ?????? ??? "-"literal angels". Literal angels means, that these angels that
Yaakov sent were angels that have always been angels from the beginning of time.
They were not the kind of angels that are created through Misvot- they were literal
angels that were always around. This is another way of understanding the Pasuk;
????? ???? ?????? ????? , the word ????? can also mean "before". Yaakov was sending the
angels that were angels even before Yaakov was around!
These "literal angels" ????? ?????? ???? ?????? were the angels that Yaakov sent
to Eisav. Why did Yaakov choose these angels specifically?? It is because these
angels represent the Gemarah and the Torah Shebeal Peh. Rebbi wrote the
Mishnayot. Ravina and Rav Ashi expanded the Mishnayot and produced the Gemarah.
In the Gemarah is found the reasoning and the logic of the Mishnah, and it thereby
explains the written Torah as well. Yaakov Avinu, as mentioned, was trying to insure
the existence of the oral Torah, and it was for this reason that he sent angels to Eisav.
The word ???? stands for ?????? ????? ???? ?????? . Yaakov was insuring the
Gemarah’s coming into existence- the Gemarah being the primary source of Torah
Shebeal Peh today. He therefore sent these four angels that stood for Gemarah.
The ??? ????? adds that these four angels surround the throne ( ??? ? ???? ) of
Hashem, ????? in the front, ?????? in the back, ?????? to the right, and ???? to the left.
When a person studies the Gemarah these four angels come down to him - since they
are the four angels that stand for ?????? ????? ???? ??????) ???? ). When a person prays
to Hashem after studying Gemarah, these angels bring his prayer back up all the way
to the throne of Hashem with them! We see the amazing affect of studying Gemarah
before we pray!!
There is a ????? that exists which causes forgetfulness. The name of this ????? is
This ????? is hinted to in a story in the Gemarah about Rebbi Elazar Ben Arach.
Rebbi Elazar Ben Arach was one of the primary students of Rav Yochanan Ben Zakai
and was a tremendous scholar. At one point, he had moved to an island for a "retreat"
from the Yeshiva. One Shabbat, the Shul on the island invited the rabbi to read from
the Sefer Torah. The portion he was to read was; " ???? ??? ??? " ("this month is to
you"). Rebbi Elazar mistakenly read it; " ???? ??? ??? " (Lit; "their heart is mute")! This
was a mistake that even a child would not make! It was a sign from Shamayim that
Rebbi Elazar needed to get back to the Yeshiva.
It is no coincidence that the letters that Rebbi Elazar erroneously switched were
the letters; ?- ?- ? (from ??? to ??? , from ??? to ??? , and from ??? to ??? ). His error
was in the very letters of the ????? of ??? that caused him to forget them!!
It is due to this ????? that Rabeinu Hakadosh was forced to write down the
Mishnah since he realized that the students were starting to forget the laws. The name
of this ????? is " ??? ". Rabeinu Hakadosh reversed the effects of this ????? ; he was
therefore called " ??? ", which is the same letters as .???
This is why the Midrash brings the Pasuk in Mishlei, when it wonders why
Yaakov started the confrontation with Eisav. " ????? ?? ??? ?? ?? "-"meddling in a quarrel
not his own". It was precisely because of ??? (the ????? ) that Yaakov was compelled
to approach Eisav, and appease him. Since ????? ??? would cause forgetfulness of
Torah in the future generations, and that would necessitate Rebbi to write the Mishnah
in order to preserve the oral Torah, and this had to be done under the auspices of
Antoninus, therefore Yaakov needed to "lay the groundwork" in order to help and teach
Rebbi how to gain the permission of Antoninus to write the Mishnah. This would
culminate into Gemarah, and thereby insure the continued existence of the Torah
Yaakov Avinu had all this in mind when sending the angels that represented
Gemarah. He was subjugating himself to his evil brother in order to save the Torah and
thereby always be supreme over him!
We see from here how awesome, and far reaching the consequence of every
single action of our forefathers. Everything that we have today is to their credit. We
also see the powerful effect of learning the Gemarah. It solidifies the oral Torah, and
causes our Tefilot to be brought all the way up to the ??? ????? to be accepted!!

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