Parshat Vayishlach 5770: Contrasting Moral, Spiritual Honesty With Clouded False Perceptions

by, Moshe Burt

As our Parsha begins, Yaakov sent melachim (angels), some render a translation of messengers, “… ahead of him to Eisev to the land of Seir, to the field of Edom… Thus shall you say … to Eisev, so said your servant Yaakov: ‘Im-Lavan garti’ (I have sojourned with Lavan) …” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 32, posukim 4 & 5).

We learn that the Gematria (numerical value) of the word ‘garti’ is 613; that Yaakov “… sojourned with Lavan, but yet … kept all of the 613 commandments and … did not learn from his [Lavan’s] wicked deeds.” (Torah Gems, Aharon Greenberg, Parsha Vayishlach page 251)

There seems a message in the reunion between Yaakov and Eisev that seems both timely and crucial on the heels of Netanyahu’s now infamous 10 month construction freeze in Yehuda and the Shomron. And there seems also a message relating to the courageous newly-recruited soldiers of Kfir regiment, of Shimshon battalion and others who have recently begun making public displays of insubordination against possible future immoral orders to evict their their fellow Jews from outposts in Yehuda and the Shomron.

This is the Parsha where we learn of Yaakov’s climactic reunion with brother Eisev which was reminiscent of the old Four Tops song from the 1960’s, “if you bite my neck, I’ll turn to stone, turn to stone…”

We learn that upon their reunion, Yaakov and Eisev, embraced, wept and that Eisev kissed Yaakov on the neck.

Shem Mishmuel (Shem Mishmuel, Rabbi Zvi Belovski, Parsha Vayishlach, pages 61 – 63) cites a Midrash (Breish’t Rabbah 78.9) where Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar comments on the phrase “and he kissed him”, represented by the word “vayishakeihu” written in the Torah with a dot above each letter.

Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar comments;

“Whenever there is more text than dots, one expounds on the text. Whenever there are more dots than text, one expounds on the dots. But here, there are an equal number of of letters and dots. From this we learn that at that moment Eisev’s mercy was aroused, and he kissed Yaakov with all of his heart.”

Shem Mishmuel writes on this kiss;

“Eisev wanted to inject his poisonous philosophy into Yaakov, to draw him toward the evil life which Eisev personified. At this moment, Yaakov’s neck miraculously turned into marble. Vessels made from stone (…marble is an example) are not subject to the laws of tumah and taharah (ritual purity and impurity). Given this, we can understand why the Midrash chose to use the symbolism of marble, rather than the more usual hard materials of iron or brass. Yaakov’s neck was unable to contract any impurity from Eisev’s malicious advances! He was completely impervious to Eisev’s designs, and marble, which is unable to receive tumah, is a perfect metaphor for this.”

Shem Mishmuel then suggests, and herein lies the message which seems to have been intellectualized and internalized by the courageous new soldiers mentioned above;

“That Yaakov was able to resist Eisev’s attack in the way described was purely because of his attitude toward the meeting. The very fact that he was more concerned for his spiritual rather than his physical well-being … protected him when the moment of truth arose. Indeed, we can be sure that Yaakov would rather have submitted to physical death rather than lose his integrity by associating with his vile brother.”

Returning to the Midrash stated above, Rabbi Yannai replied to Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar’s premise that Eisev kissed Yaakov with all of his heart, “If that’s the case, then why are there dots at all? (Shem Mishmuel footnote:

“The simple meaning of the text implies that the kiss is genuine. Rabbi Yannai notes that the dots must change the simple meaning of the text, not confirm it.) “Yaakov’s neck turned to marble, and the wicked one blunted his teeth on it. Indeed, that is the meaning of ‘they wept’ — Yaakov cried because of his neck; Eisev because of his teeth.”

May it be that those who stand steadfast and rock-solid for Torah, Am Yehudi, for their Jewish brethren and for Eretz Yisrael speedily achieve the upper hand over the current lame, corrupt, crony national leaders whose intellect, common-sense, wisdom, intuitiveness and sense of national security and well-being are clouded and obscured as they hide behind distorted Western morality and subserviance to cover up their deep-seeded, blind hatred of anything and everything Jewish. May these courageous soldiers and other Torah-true leaders gain the national leadership upper hand and reflect chessed, the wisdom and intuition of Avraham Avinu, of Rifka Emeinu and of Yaakov Avinu.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard, captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated alive returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem and that we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.