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Parshat Vayishlach

Posted by rabbiart on April 21, 2008

This Shabbat the Torah portion is about our fears, and how we sometimes project our feelings onto others – and how this can lead us down an unhelpful path.
As the parshah opens, Yakov is returning from his sojourn with his brother-in-law Lavan. He has built a family of two wives, two concubines, eleven sons and a daughter, and a collection of servants. He has become quite wealthy. He sends messengers ahead of him to his brother Esav, telling of his great possessions. The messengers report back, saying that Esav is coming to meet Yakov, and bringing with him four hundred men. Yakov is immediately afraid and distressed, so he splits his entourage into two camps, thinking that if Esav attacks and destroys one, the other will escape. Then he prays to HaShem for deliverance, but he feels compelled to remind HaShem of HaShem’s promises to him. As a further measure, he sends a large collection of gifts to his brother.
When the brothers finally meet, Esav runs to Yakov, embraces him, falls on his neck and kisses him. The brothers both weep. Esav asks about the presents that Yakov has sent ahead to him. Then he tells his brother “I have enough, my brother, keep what is yours.” At Yakov’s insistence, Esav agrees to accept the gifts, and suggests that they continue their journey together. When Yakov demurs, explaining that his children are still young, and his flock slow to move, Esav offers to leave some of his men with Yakov. Again Yakov reacts with fear and suspicion.

Who is the better model in this story?
Who has the guilty conscience?
Who is more ready to forgive and move on?

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