This Week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43)

I discuss the weekly Torah portion with Rabbi Rabbs Mondays at 7:00 pm PST on the Rabbi Rabbs cam and on YouTube. Facebook Fan Page.

This week we study Parashat Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43).

Rabbi Rabbs emails: Here is the link to the article written by the israeli/american married couple. Here is the chart on Biblical marriages. Here is the link to the article about the appellate justice who ruled on the Sholom Rubashkin appeal.

* Rabbi Berel Wein writes: “Yaakov prepares himself for soothing Eisav by gifts and wealth, pointing out to Eisav that it is beneficial to him to have Yaakov around and being productive. He also strengthens himself spiritually in prayer and in appeal to God to deliver him from Eisav. And finally as a last resort he is prepared to fight Eisav with his own weapons, the sword and war.”

* Rabbi Wein writes: “Yaakov successfully disarms Eisav by showering him with gifts and compliments. He does not really have a serious discussion with him about their outstanding differences.”

Sometimes talk is good but often liquor is quicker. I don’t drink. Therefore, my dates usually do not drink either. This makes progress more halting in many instances. Sometimes it is impossible.

* Rabbi Wein writes: “There are now and there have been till now, many attempts to find a middle ground between traditional Judaism and the ideas of modernity and behavior of the modern world. But, the truth be said, no universal successful formula for confronting the modern world has as yet been formulated by the descendants of Yaakov. Meanwhile, the modern world and its ideas are ripping gaping holes in the fabric and population of the Jewish people. Not everyone can and/or should divorce one’s self from the modern world swirling about us. And, again, not everyone can successfully reconcile a Torah life-style and commitment to the realities of the modern world.”

* Were Jacob’s sons wrong to wipe out the Shechemites? It’s a horrifying passage. Non-Jews read this passage and think that Jews are bloodthirsty and at least partly responsible for the havoc in the Middle East.

I take from the passage that the only way the brothers could free Dina was by wiping out her captors.

* “When Dinah went out to see the daughters of the land”, did she sin?

* Are there things that women can do that make them more or less likely to be raped? If a woman gets drunk in a frat house, she’s not morally culpable if she’s raped, but she’s responsible for putting herself in a position to be raped.

* “Hamor went out to Jacob and told him that Shechem longed for Dinah, and asked Jacob to give her to him for a wife, and to agree that their two people might intermarry and live and trade together.” A typical story in Jewish history. Let’s intermarry and live together. Not the Jewish destiny.

* How amazing must Dina have been that Shechem and his people were willing to circumcise themselves so everyone could live together in peace. I’ve met a few women in my time that had I not been circumcised, I would’ve consented to the unkindest cut of all. There was this one black girl I knew…

* “Simeon and Levi asked whether they were to allow someone to treat their sister as a prostitute.” This is ethnic pride. Ethnic groups, be they Jews or Latinos or Arabs etc, tend to have a more proprietary attitude towards their women than WASPs, about the only group that does not usually live through its children.

* Where was Jacob in this Dina episode? He seems passive. His sons apparently did not even consult him.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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