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Introductory Notes by KOL HATOR
This commentary, based on Parashat Vayishlach Genesis 32:4 – 36:43, Hosea 11:7 – 12:12, (Obadiah 1:1 – 21) extracts the legitimate fears of the Jewish heart for the non-Jewish nations (Goyim) from the parashah’s recorded history of Jacob with his brother Esav in a Family feud. A similar Family feud developed even deeper into the Family between the 10-Tribed House of Israel and the 2-Tribed House of Judah In the time of the reign of King Solomon. This feud now, after more than 2700 years of great animosity, is still raging. But it now protrudes to include the Gentile nations amongst whom the House of 10-Israel has been exiled. These Israelite exiles have lost their Hebrew Torah identity totally – and now the Time for their Return and reconciliation with Judah seems to have arrived. Now it is no longer an Israel Family feud, but on the face of it all, a feud between the Gentile Nations and the Jewish remnant Nation.
Onto this World stage now steps the divine Expectation to make Peace in the Family and to reconcile in order to fulfill the Main theme of Prophecy and the Ultimate Purpose of the God of Israel, to re-unite His Family in order to serve as the Ruling Power over the Nations, starting from the Time of the 7th (Shabbat) millennium – now just 230 years away!
The two striding parties facing each other are the Remnant Torah identified nation of Judah (Jews) and Gentiles (Goyim) amongst whom there is a great awakening to Torah. Such groups of Torah-seeking Gentiles masses seem to fit that remarkable Prophecy in Zechariah 8:23, regarding “10 men of all nations grabbing onto the Jew for guidance to the God of the Jew,” asking the Jew to lead them to his God.
Bible commentators from both Jewish and Christian sides have been accentuating the “End Time re-awakening of Ephraim” (depicting the lost exiles of 10-Israel amongst the Gentiles). Strange that this week’s Parashah regarding the strife in the Family of Itzchak (father of Jacob) is linked by the Haftarah reading from the Prophetic books of the Bible) from Hosea 11:7 – 12:12. This section, selected by ancient Jewish Sages to accentuate the Parashah, deals specifically with the Return of Ephraim and HaShem’s compassion with both the failing parties of the covenanted 12-Tribed family. He is willing and ready to forgive and forget. Are we?
This commentary reveals the legitimate fears of the Jewish heart from the history of Jacob, patriarch of the 12-Tribed nation of Israel. For Jews, it will present reason for encouragement to accept these strangers and to work for Reconciliation. For Ephraimites (reawakening Torah restorers amongst all nations) it could serve as a motivation and guidance to understand the fears of the Jewish heart and to stop their further pestering of Jews with a religion that their forefathers never brought down to them. In the end, both sides strive to serve the Creator – that is what we should unite upon.
Parshat VaYishlach – by Rav Dov Fischer
“In this week’s parsha, the narrative begins with the drama of Yaakov and his tender flock — two wives, two quasi-wives, 11 sons, a daughter — preparing to meet with an oncoming army, imposingly headed by his anything-but-fraternal “twin” brother, Esav. Yaakov fears the worst, and even as he prays to Hashem for protection and sends gifts to appease Esav, he prepares for war. The brothers meet ultimately, and Esav “ran to greet him, and hugged him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Genesis 33:4).
“Rashi, the paramount medieval commentator, notes the two midrashic traditions that discuss what actually happened during “The Kiss.” Because the Torah text is unusually punctuated, with six extraneous dots marking the word va-yishakehu (“and he kissed him”), the rabbis analyzed what happened.
“One midrashic opinion is that the kiss was insincere — that Esav actually tried to bite Yaakov’s throat out after deceptively inducing his brother to relax his defenses. The other opinion is that after 20 years driven by relentless hate, Esav laid eyes on his brother, and it all came to him at once: He is my brother, for God’s sake, my brother. And he kissed him with all his love.
“For many, that midrashic discussion historically has served as the narrative’s denouement and the ultimate launching pad for distrusting non-Jews, all of them. According to the opinion that Esav tried to bite the neck, not to kiss it, that animus reflects an immutable law of nature, comparable to gravity, only with metaphor attached: “It is a known law that Esav hates Yaakov.”
“Metaphorically interpreted: All non-Jews are out to get us.
I was taught that law as a child being schooled in Brooklyn. They all are out to get us.
“As for the second interpretation, which bears equal weight in the original midrashic discussion — that Esav kissed his brother lovingly — well, it never was taught to us as kids. We did not even have to know it for the test. I only discovered it years later, when on my initiative I looked at the original source discussion.
Certainly, ours is a history of being targeted by “them” for no reason other than our being “us.” The Christian, en route to liberate the Holy Land from the infidel Muslim Saracens, stopped along watering holes throughout Europe to massacre whole Jewish bystander communities.
“Three centuries later, as a bubonic plague took hold throughout Europe, insane justification somehow was found to murder one-third of our people. Three centuries later, Bogdan Chmielnitzki and the Cossack massacres. Three centuries later, Hitler, the Nazis and their European confederates. Not to mention the Inquisition in Spain, the expulsions from lands as gentle as France and England, the persecutions of Mashad, the mellahs of Morocco and the ghettos of Italy and the June 1941 Iraqi Shavuot pogrom after the fall of the Golden Square.
“So many times we got caught in the crossfire of other people, insane and crazy with one or another agenda of hate, who stopped by along the way to target us, too. As recently as Mumbai, where goons and thugs fighting over the Pakistan-India Kashmir dispute chose to perpetrate horrific evils against targeted Jewish bystanders while on a murder spree, we have been caught or targeted in their crossfire.
“It is easy to see how persuasive the “known law of nature” seems to be: They all are out to get us. Just look at history. All of them are out to get us.
“Only, that is not all of our history. From Righteous Gentiles who genuinely risked and sometimes gave their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust to centuries and millennia of next door neighbors who lent us milk or sugar or watered our plants and picked up our mail (yes, an anachronism) when we went on vacation, to non-Jewish employers who hired us and non-Jewish teachers who helped us learn to read and to count, a second law also exists: No, they are not all out to get us.
“And despite this country’s shameful moments — Peter Stuyvesant’s governance, Ulysses Grant’s General Order No. 11, the Leo Frank lynching, the 1928 Massena Blood Libel, the years of Father Coughlin and Henry Ford and the 1991 Crown Heights Riots — we have flourished and built Torah institutions, gained huge support for Israel, including financial and military backing and the right to hold dual citizenship with her, and have been able to play a role in every aspect of this land’s culture and enterprise and civilization. We assuredly owe it to our kids to teach them that, no, all of them are not out to get us.
“And because the playing field at this time and place in our history is essentially level, it is incumbent on us to conduct our affairs honestly and ethically and to expect and demand the same from those business enterprises that operate in our community or — even if they are out in the sticks of the Corn Belt — that operate to serve our community.”
Kol Hator wishes to thank Rav Dov Fischer for this deep insight and inspiring Message from this week’s Bible reading.