Parsha Shiur by Rabbi Mayer Friedman תשרפ חלשיוהֹכ רֹמאֵל ם ָתֹא וַצְיַו י ִת ְרַג ןָבָל ם ִע בֹקֲעַי ךָ ְד ְבַע רַמ ָא הֹכ ו ָשֵעְל יִנֹדאַל ןוּר ְמאֹתרַח ֵאָוה ָתָע דַע "And he commanded them, saying: So shall you say to my master to Eisav: Thus said your servant Yaakov: I have sojourned with Lavan and I have tarried until now" (32:5) Rashi comments that Yaakov sent the following message to Eisav: "I stayed with Lavan and I kept the 613 mitzvos and did not learn from his ways."How was Yaakov able to avoid being influenced by Lavan despite spending twenty years under the same roof?The secret is in the wordי ִת ְרַג, he considered himself as a stranger, an outsider who was not part of the local society in Charan.He acted differently and that helped him remain committed to his values which he did not share with Lavan and his neighbors.When we remember that we do not truly fit in or belong in our home countries, then we will be able to retain our Jewish values. R' Meir Yechiel of Ostrov wasonce asked where he was from.He responded:"My home is the Holy Land, but I am currently in exile in Poland."Thatis the attitude which a Jew in exile needs to remember in order to withstand the challenges of living among the nations. הָחְל ְשׁ ֶאָו הָח ְפ ִשְׁו דֶבֶעְו ןאֹצ רוֹמֲחַו רוֹשׁ יִל י ִהְיַו ךָיֶניֵע ְב ןֵח אֹצ ְמִל יִנֹדאַל דיִגַהְל"And I have acquired oxen and donkeys, flocks, manservants, and maidservants, and I have sent to tell this to my master, to find favor in your eyes"(32:6) Rabbeinu Bachya notes that Yaakov mentioned all of his possessions in singular form, "an ox, a donkey," etc.Yaakov minimized his wealth and tried to downplay his success.This teaches us not to flaunt our accomplishments, especially in the financial realm, and not try to make people notice what we have.Righteous people keep a low profile and they refrain from talking up their successes.By contrast, wicked people make themselves out to be important by talking about themselves all the time.
Parsha Shiur by Rabbi Mayer Friedman-תשרפחלשיופשת"ג-Page 2דַי ִמ אָנ יִנֵלי ִצַה לַע ם ֵא יִנַכ ִהְו אוֹבָי ןֶפ וֹתֹא י ִכֹנ ָא א ֵרָי י ִכ ו ָשֵע דַי ִמ י ִח ָאםיִנָב"Now deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Eisav, for I am afraid of him, lest he come and strike me, a mother with children" (32:12) After sending a gift to Eisav, Yaakov prayed to be saved "from my brother, from Eisav."He referred to Eisav in two different ways because he needed protection whether or not Eisav chose to accept the gift.If he were to be appeased by it and approach as a "brother," Yaakov prayed that he be spared from falling prey to the influences of Eisav's closeness and friendliness.But should he rebuff the gift and approach as "Eisav," then Yaakov asked Hashem to save him from the sword. Jews are always looking for peace, but our enemies still seek to fight us, just like Yaakov made a peaceful gesture in the face of Eisav's approach for war.This is still the case today in our times. עַגָנ י ִכ הֶזַה םוֹיַה דַע ךְ ֵּרָיַה ףַכ לַע ר ֶשֲא ה ֶשָנַה דיִג ת ֶא ל ֵּא ָר ְשִי יֵּנ ְב וּל ְכאֹי אֹל ןֵּכ לַע ה ֶשָנַה דיִג ְב בֹקֲעַי ךְ ֶרֶי ףַכ ְב "Therefore the Children of Israel shall not eat the sciatic nerve that is on the thigh until this day for he dislocated the thigh of Yaakov in the sciatic nerve" (32:33) The Torah instructs us not to eat the gid hanasheh, the sciatic nerve, because that is where Yaakov was injured by the angel.What lesson are we meant to remember by commemorating this historic event?Rashbam says that by marking Yaakov's battle with the angel, we remember how Yaakov was miraculously granted the great strength necessary to overcome the angel.Yaakov deserved this miracle because he acted righteously and when we do the right thing, than the forces of evil have no power over us. Chizkuni explains that the prohibition that resulted from this event was a punishment for Yaakov's children, who should have accompanied their father at night rather than leaving him alone.Because Yaakov was on his own, he was vulnerable and was injured by the angel.It is a reminder to the Jewish people for all time to be very careful about escorting people and never leaving them in unsafe situations.
Parsha Shiur by Rabbi Mayer Friedman-תשרפחלשיופשת"ג-Page 3לֶג ֶרְלוּ יַנָפְל ר ֶשֲא הָכאָל ְמַה לֶג ֶרְל י ִט ִאְל הָלֲהָנ ְת ֶא יִנֲאַו וֹדּ ְבַע יֵּנ ְפִל יִנֹדֲא אָנ רׇבֲעַי ה ָרי ִע ֵּש יִנֹדֲא ל ֶא אֹב ָא ר ֶשֲא דַע םי ִדָלְיַה "Let my master go before his servant, and I will move at my own slow pace, according to the pace of the work that is before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my master, to Seir" (33:14) Rabbeinu Bachya writes that although Yaakov promised to visit Eisav in Seir, he never really intended to do so.He wanted to stay as far away from Eisav as possible.If so, how did he make such a commitment?The Midrash explains that although Yaakov never personally visited Seir, he intended to fulfill his promise to go to Seir after the arrival of Moshiach.As a hint to this, the last letters of the phraseה ָרי ִע ֵּש יִנֹדֲא ל ֶא אֹב ָאspellהילא, a reference to Eliyahu HaNavi, who will herald the arrival of Moshiach. יֵנ ְב לַע וּאָב בֹקֲעַירי ִעָה וּזֹּבָיַו םיִלָלֲחַהם ָתוֹחֲא וּא ְמ ִט ר ֶשֲׁא"Yaakov's sons came upon the slain and plundered the city that had defiled their sister"(34:27) Why does the Torah say that the entire city had defiled Dinah? Seforno explains that if abducting young girls and abusing them would have been unacceptable to the citizens of his town, Shechem would not have acted this way.It must be that they agreed with his actions.As such, they were held responsible. Hashem's recordkeeping is quite different from what we might expect.We are responsible for those around us and if we do not act accordingly, we may find ourselves held accountable for sins that we did not commit, just like the people of Shechem.At the same time, this method of accounting is also true for mitzvos.If we influence someone else to do a mitzvah, we will receive credit for a mitzvah that we did not do.The power of influencing others is such that a person could be accumulating so many credits without even doing a thing. Parsha Shiur by Rabbi Mayer Friedman Written by Michael Gutmann