Liquid error (sections/custom_mobile-menu line 86): Expected handle to be a String but got LinkListDrop
  • Group 27 Login

Beyond Fear, The Evolution of Jacob into Israel
Unveiled the soul of the Hebrew identity.

The weekly Torah reading, Vaishala, begins in contrast to last week's parsha. Last week, we started reading "JACOB left," and this week begins with "Jacob sent angels ahead of him." Jacob went into exile last week and is now leaving and returning to Eretz Yisrael (the Hebrew Land).

We will learn that this whole part teaches us what process the Jewish identity must go through when we are freed from the identity of our exile. How does a Jew go from being 'Jacob' to the identity of 'Israel'?

Jacob is the little one who surrendered to the bigger one. On the other hand, regarding Israel, it is written: "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, because you have commanding power with [an angel of] God and with men, and you have prevailed." [Genesis 32:29]. In this, the angel informs him that he discovered his ability to face political challenges and the like by becoming Israel. This is a necessary condition to become 'Israel.'

The first test is Jacob's meeting with Esau when he is still afraid of him, as it is written: “Jacob became very frightened and was distressed…” [Genesis 32:9]. Why is fear emphasized twice in this verse? Rashi (medieval commentator) interprets it as follows: “He was frightened lest he be killed, and he was distressed that he might kill others.”

We see that Jacob's fear of having to “kill others” is more significant than the thought of the actual danger that he might be killed. This way of thinking is still the result of an exiled moral code. He cannot confront and defeat the enemy if he cares more about the enemy than himself.

Let's look again at Rashi's commentary. He wrote - 'Perhaps he will kill others'. Who are the 'others'? According to the Midrash, the 'others' refer to one of the greatest sages of Hebrew in the days of Rome, Rabbi Meir. According to tradition, Rabbi Meir was a sage, A descendant of Nero, the emperor, and Nero was a descendant of Esau. In other words, Jacob understands that within the culture of Esau, a great soul can emerge like Rabbi Meir's. He cannot get out of his mind that there are precious elements even within the enemy. He cannot enter the Land of Israel and settle there in such a situation.

Thus, divine providence causes Jacob to fight Esau. As it is written: 'And Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn.' [Genesis 32:25]. When Jacob was forced (in a dream) to fight and defeat his enemy, he is now ready to enter the Land of Israel.

He will still have to face a real enemy, as in the case of the people of Nablus. In the case of Dinah (daughter of Jacob) in Nablus [see Genesis chapter 34], he is still humble. Jacob holds back and chooses not to fight. But his sons already understand the mode of action necessary for existence in the Land of Israel. In their explanation to Jacob, their father, they said: "Shall he make our sister like a harlot?" [Genesis 34:31] Therefore, they explain, we had to act.

After the battle with Nablus and its inhabitants, Jacob goes up to Bethel because, at this stage, he finally acquired the appropriate level of conviction required for the Jews of the Land of Israel. This level reaches that of Israel, which knows how to fight.

Click here and take real steps in your life today to actively participate in the ongoing narrative of the Hebrew people, to ensure a better future for the world.

More Weekly Portions

律法為個人和社區帶來整體的福祉

Parashat Nasso在解決個人和家庭問題的同時,也強調通過大祭司的祝福,實現整體的團結和福祉。大祭司的祝福分為三個層次:強調物質和精神需求之間的平衡。

願神賜福給你,保護你--這是物質財富上的祝福。

願神臉上的光光照你,賜恩給你--這是通過學習律法書獲得的靈性的光照。

願神向你仰臉,賜你平安--這是與靈魂內在三個等級<Nefesh,Ruach,Neshamah>的緊密而深刻的聯繫。律法書為和諧整合個體和整體的福祉,給出了原則性的指導。

Beyond the Count: Individual Worth and Collective Unity
[Bemidbar]

Parshat Bamidbar discusses the commandment to count the Israelites, focusing on those eligible for the army. This count underscores the tension between collective and individual identities. The Torah uses the expression "number of names," signifying the importance of both the collective and the individual. The Torah teaches that true unity blends these aspects, with the collective gaining meaning through each individual's uniqueness. This concept is reflected in the principle of "generalization and specification" in scriptural interpretation, with hidden meanings in the numbers, explored through the gematria.

Tears of Exile, Seeds of Hope: The Unbreakable Bond Between God and Israel
[Bechukotai]

Parashat Bechukotai discusses the covenant between God and Israel, emphasizing the importance of repentance for redemption. The Talmudic debate between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua delves into whether redemption is contingent on teshuva. Rashi's commentary interprets the ambiguous term "או" to support both views. This dual perspective highlights the Torah's open interpretation, showing that redemption can depend on human repentance or divine promise, reflecting a complex interplay of conditions in Judaism's understanding of historical progress.

Search