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Parshat Vayishlach


5760 The nineteenth (Yud Tes) day of the Jewish month of Kislev is a holiday that holds a very deep and vital message for every person in the world, both Jew and non-Jew. On this day the first Rebbe of Chabad, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Laidi, was released from prison over 200 years ago.
5761 This week the Torah tells us about the famous all-night battle between Yaakov and the angel. We have met with materialized angels before in the Torah; for instance the angel that spoke to Hagar and those that visited Avraham and then destroyed Sodom. But here it is not so clear what is really going on.
5762 In the beginning of this weeks Torah portion, we read of Yaakov's confrontation with his evil brother Eisov.
5763 This week's section contains many interesting episodes in the life of Jacob: his battle with an angel, his tense encounter with his murderous brother Esav, the rape of his daughter by the prince of Shchem and the consequent revenge of his sons against the entire city and more. But there are two things that are puzzling.
5764 In this week's Torah Portion we read about the meeting between Yaakov and his evil brother Asav who had been simmering in hatred, waiting over thirty years to kill him. But Yaakov finds the perfect strategy to appease his ruthless brother; he sends angels (!) to tell him:
5765 In this weeks portion we read about the confrontation between of Jacob and his brother Esau. At first glance this is not very important. Who cares what happened some four thousand years ago between two brothers in an isolated spot in the Middle East? Important events are things like Napoleon at Waterloo or the Japanese at Pearl Harbor!
5766 The Jews have been reading the Torah aloud in public at least once a week since it was given over 3,300 years ago at Sinai.
5767 The title of this week's Torah portion means "And he sent" and it precedes the holiday of "Yud Tes Kislev" (the 19th day of the Jewish month of Kislev) when Rebbe Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of the Chabad Chassidic movement and the author of the book 'Tanya', was released (sent) from prison.
5768 This week we read a strange episode in the history of Judaism; G-d changes the Patriarch Jacob's name, "Your name will no longer be called Yaakov but Yisroel will be your name" (35:10) And it wasn't the first time it happened. Earlier (17:5) G-d changed Avram's name to Abraham. But there is seemingly a big difference between them:
5769 This week we read of Yaakov's (Jacob's) battle with an angel that resulted in his name being changed to Yisroel (Israel). But this does not seem to make sense. How can a person fight, no less win, against an angel? And after he won why didn't he get a bit more than just a name change? Couldn't he have just changed it without going through so much trouble?
5770 Strangely the Jewish Bible, the Book of Books, contains almost no miracle stories about the founding fathers of the Jewish religion. These stories are found in the 'Midrash' and Talmudic 'Aggada' but only hinted at in the book of Genesis.
5772 Next week, on the 19th day of Kislev (Thursday) marks the 213th anniversary of the miraculous release of the first Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Shenur Zalman of Liadi, (a.k.a. the Alter (old) Rebbe) from Czarist prison which began as a death sentence and ended up in 53 days of incarceration where his teachings and holiness reached the highest Russian officials including the Czar himself.
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