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ויאמר עשו יש לי רב ויאמר ויעקב ...וכי יש לי כל

And Eisav said, “I have much, And Yaakov said, I have everything.” (33:9,11)

The Chafetz Chaim, zl, states that the varied comments concerning their individual material bounty that Yaakov Avinu and Eisav ha’rasha expressed define their individual outlook on olam hazeh, this world. Eisav contended that he had much; a term that implied he could use more. With such an attitude, he would always seek more. One who has one hundred is dissatisfied. He now wants two hundred. He never has enough. On the other hand, Yaakov declared that he had everything. Material assets had little worth to Yaakov. He got by on what he had and what he had was all that…

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ויותר יעקב לבדו

Yaakov was left alone. (32:25)

Chazal (Bereishis Rabbah 77) quote the pasuk in Devarim (32:25), Ein ka’Keil Yeshurun, rocheiv Shomayim b’ezarecha, u’v’gaavaso shechakim; “O, Yeshurun, there is none like G-d, riding through the heavens to help you, and in His majesty through the upper heights.” Chazal teach, “There is none like G-d, and who is like G-d? Yeshurun, the most pleasant and praiseworthy (straight and upright), pursuing their lives in undeviating duty.” (When a Jew achieves the level of Yeshurun in complete devotion to Hashem, he becomes “G-d-like,” achieving a level in this world that has no peer.) The Midrash concludes, “Who is like G-d?…

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עם לבן גרתי

With Lavan, I lived. (32:5)

Rashi interprets the phrase, Im Lavan garti, “With Lavan, I lived,” as a profound message to Eisav. The word garti has the same letters (hence, the same gematria, numerical value) as taryag, 613 (mitzvos). Yaakov intimated to Eisav, “I do not fear your influence on me. I lived for years with the wicked Lavan; yet, I did not learn from his evil ways. I still was able to observe all taryag mitzvos. Yaakov seems to be making two statements: A) I observed the entire Torah, B) I did not learn from Lavan’s evil ways. Is this not obvious? If one…

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ויאמר יעקב אל שמעון ואל לוי עכרתם אתי להבאישני בישב הארץ... ויאמרו הכזונה יעשה את אחתנו

Yaakov said to Shimon and to Levi, “You have discomposed me, making me odious among the inhabitants of the land…” And they said, “Should he treat our sister like a harlot?” (34:30,31)

Yaakov Avinu rebuked his two sons for putting their lives and the lives of their entire family at risk when they killed all of the people of the city of Shechem. Shimon and Levi replied, Ha’k’zonah yaaseh es achoseinu? “Shall he treat our sister like a harlot?” We do not find Yaakov countering their argument, an indication that he conceded to their claim. Chazal teach that on the Degel, Banner/Flag, of the Tribe of Shimon, there is an allusion to the maaseh Shechem, the incident of Shechem. Apparently, if their revenge had been out of place, Yaakov could not have…

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ויענו בני יעקב את שכם ואת חמר אביו במרמה

Yaakov’s sons answered Shechem and his father Chamor cleverly. (34:13)

Mirmah is usually translated as “treachery/deceit.” In this instance, Rashi translates it as, chochmah, wisdom, or cleverness. This interpretation begs elucidation, since how much wisdom does it take to overpower a community of men on the third day following surgery, when they are in intense pain? One could hardly call this cleverness. The Netziv, zl, explains that “cleverness” in this case serves as a disclaimer, to declare that at no time did the brothers intend to accept this base people into their family. Shechem and his cohorts were not becoming Jews. The use of the word mirmah reminds us not…

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ויאמר אליו מה שמך ויאמר יעקב... וישאל יעקב ויאמר הגידה נא שמך ויאמר למה תשאל לשמי

He said to him, “What is your name?” He replied, “Yaakov”… Then Yaakov inquired, and he said, “Divulge, if you please, your name.” And he said, “Why then do you inquire of my name?” (32:28,30)

Eisav’s angel asked Yaakov Avinu for his name. It is not as if he did not know his name. He simply wanted to know the source of Yaakov’s strength, his power. Our Patriarch replied, “Yaakov. My power is in the heel. I enter the fray from the side, unnoticed. This is how I succeed.” The angel said, “From now on, your name will be Yisrael, a name which implies strength. You will no longer have to come from the eikav, heel/side. You will come with strength.” Our Patriarch seemed content with this new designation. He now said to the angel,…

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ויאבק איש עמו עד עלות השחר

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

Chazal (quoted by Rashi) say that the “man” who wrestled with Yaakov Avinu was no ordinary human; rather, he was the archangel of Eisav, who had been dispatched by Hashem to pave the way for the ultimate salvation of Yaakov and his descendants. We derive a portent for the future from their fight. Just as Yaakov was injured during the course of the struggle, but, nonetheless, he prevailed and went on to even greater achievements; so, too, will our People suffer losses in the future, but will emerge stronger, better, spiritually healthier – in preparation for our ultimate geulah, redemption….

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ויותר יעקב לבדו

Yaakov was left alone. (32:25)

Rashi cites Chazal (Chullin 91a) who posit that Yaakov Avinu had forgotten some pachim ketanim, small earthenware pitchers, and he returned for them. Clearly, these pitchers had inconsequential value. Yet, to Yaakov, they were valuable enough to return for them, even if it meant exposing himself to danger. From this, Chazal derive that to the righteous (not only Yaakov), their money is dearer to them than their bodies. Our Sages explain that since the righteous are meticulous in avoiding any form of dishonesty, their money represents integrity at its apex. Thus, it is dear to them. Wealth earned through honesty…

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כי ירא אנכי אותו פן יבוא והכני אם על בנים

For I fear him lest he come and strike me down, mother and children. (32:12)

Rashi explains that, while Hashem did ensure Yaakov Avinu that He would protect him and that all would be good, perhaps, as a result of his “sin,” he might be compelled to fall into Eisav’s hands. Our Patriarch feared the repercussions of his sin. This was his madreigah, spiritual plateau, with regard to yiraas cheit, fear of sin. We can only begin to imagine what Yaakov’s criteria concerning sin were. Yaakov was concerned about the fact that he had made a bris, covenant/agreement, with the evil Lavan. Could this be a sin which would catalyze the loss of Hashem’s protection?…

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ויאמר עשיו יש לי רב... וכי יש לי כל

Eisav said, “I have plenty… in as much as I have everything. (33:9,11)

In addition to differences in their chosen vocations, Yaakov and Eisav had completely different perspectives on life. Yaakov Avinu was totally immersed in spiritual pursuits. The life of Eisav ha’rasha was all about the physical and the material. Spirituality did not play a role of any sort in Eisav’s world view. Satiating his physical desires, fulfilling his material needs, was what made life worth living. One powerful difference exists between the physical/material and the spiritual, with regard to satisfaction. One who is focused on the physical/material can never satisfy his physical/material hunger. One who is focused on spirituality, however, is…

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