A Shabbat Nugget: Parashat Vayishlach

In this week’s Torah portion, we learn about Jacob and his family leaving Laban and traveling back to Israel.  On his way back to Israel, Jacob is informed that his brother Esau who is enraged over Jacob receiving the firstborn blessings from Isaac, is traveling towards him with four hundred men to attack him. The portion tells us how Jacob appeases his brother by sending him a large gift and makes peace with him.

Our sages teach us that although Jacob made a temporary peace with Esau the tension between the descendants of Esau and the descendants of Jacob will continue until the days of Moshiach.  In fact, the destruction of the Second Temple and the scattering of Jews from Israel into exile was done by the Romans who were descendants of Esau.

The Haftorah of this week’s portion tells us how in the time of Moshiach there will be the complete downfall of Edom (the descendants of Esau) and the remnants of Edom will be transformed to good.  This prophecy was given by Ovadiah who was himself an Edomite convert.

This irony led the Talmud to remark “From the forest itself, comes the handle of the axe which fells it.”

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About Rabbi Pesach Scheiner

Rabbi Pesach Scheiner is the Rabbi of Boulder County Center for Judaism. In addition, he teaches extensively throughout Boulder County and is the author of "Finding the Joy in Everyday Living," a book of short chapters explaining the ways to access happiness through appreciation, gratitude, and a sense of purpose.

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