Vayeitzei/Vayishlach- Completed to Face the Next Encounter
(Read all of Tehillim יז 17 ) Hear a just cause, O Lord, give heed to my cry; Give ear to my prayer, which is not from deceitful lips. 2 Let my judgment come forth from Your presence; Let Your eyes look with equity. 3 You have tried my heart; You have visited me by night; You have tested me and You find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress. 4 As for the deeds of men, by the word of Your lips I have kept from the paths of the violent. 5 My steps have held fast to Your paths. My feet have not slipped. 6 I have called upon You, for You will answer me, O God incline Your ear to me, hear my speech. 7 Wondrously show Your lovingkindness, O Savior of those who take refuge at Your right hand from those who rise up. 8 Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings 9 From the wicked who despoil me, My deadly enemies who surround me.10 They have closed their unfeeling heart, with their mouth they speak proudly. 11 They have now surrounded us in our steps; they set their eyes to cast us down to the ground.12 He is like a lion that is eager to tear, and as a young lion lurking in hiding places.13 Arise, O Lord, confront him, bring him low; deliver my soul from the wicked with Your sword,14 from men with Your hand, O Lord, from men of the world, whose portion is in this life, and whose belly You fill with Your treasure; they are satisfied with children, and leave their abundance to their babes. 15 As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.
This week’s entry will lead us through some of last week’s context (Parasha Vayietze- in which Ya’acov having fled from Esav’s pledge to kill him upon the death of Yitzach, see’s a vision of a ladder and angels ascending and descending upon it. He meets the love of his life and her corrupt father. He lives and works for 20 years with Lavan after having been deceived by him on his wedding night, robbed of wages, totally disrespected and unappreciated….Ya’acov ends up with Lavan’s daughters, their maidservants, 11 sons, 1 daughter and via divine advice many flocks and much wealth. He is told to leave by God and continue on his journey and Lavan gives chase. Rachel takes her father’s teraphim and he tears up their camp looking for them. Ya’acov makes a fateful decree which the sages teach, seal Rachel’s fate ( She dies in childbirth bearing Benyamin),…and into this week’s Parasha- Vayishlach- and he sent. Ya’acov encounters his brother Esav and continues to bear the burden of incredible, unimaginable challenges and losses along the way. We will focus on some interesting repeated themes and new angles and perspectives when looking at difficult passages on a deeper level through the wonders in the Hebrew language.
#2962 (prep.) terem טֶרֶם – beginning, before that, previously, before the beginning, before that.
#3614 (v) kalah כָּלָה – to be prepared, made ready, to be accomplished, fulfilled, to be past, gone by, to be consumed, spent, to waste, to pine away, to complete, finish.
#1696 (v) davar דָּבַר – to lead, to guide, to rule, direct, to bring into order, to subdue, to speak, to say, to promise, to command, announce welfare, pronounce sentence.
B’reshit 24; 12 He said, “O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness to my master Abraham. 13 Behold, I am standing by the spring, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water; 14 now may it be that the girl to whom I say, ‘Please let down your jar so that I may drink,’ and who answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels also’—may she be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac; and by this I will know that You have shown lovingkindness to my master.” 15 Before he had finished speaking טֶרֶם֮ כִּלָּ֣ה לְדַבֵּר֒, behold, Rebekah who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor, came out with her jar on her shoulder. …26 The man bowed low and worshiped the Lord. 27 “Praise the Lord, the God of my master, Abraham,” he said. “The Lord has shown unfailing love and faithfulness to my master, for he has led me straight to my master’s relatives.”….45 “Before I had finished speaking in my heart אֲנִי טֶרֶם אֲכַלֶּה לְדַבֵּר אֶל לִבִּי, behold, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder, and went down to the spring and drew, and I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’
I wanted to share with you that the past three weeks have been incredibly busy in my life. That word busy- certainly doesn’t suffice for what it feels like to have hundreds of loaves of bread and dishes to perfect for over 100 mouths. Then there’s a huge array and variety of thoughts from different ages of wonderful children who each deserve affection and attention and interest. Then there’s challenges and disciplining, things that get lost in the shuffle and love to foster between friends. There are people in need of prayer and support. There are people in pain and woe. People pass away and you never got to say goodbye. There are floors to scrub, dishes to wash, animals to feed. Trash to dispose of, letters to write, cards to send, clothes to sort. There are so many, many thoughts and so many many needs and all the while there is this resonating, sustained draw and pull…it is warm, inviting, it is invigorating it is encouraging. Each one of you being here becomes it’s motivation and incentive and thus you have become woven into one of the desire’s of my heart and soul. Each week it is sought after, longed for and relished with as much adoration as awe and thus this is my act of worship and thanks. Before I can even ask for what I need to perform a function He responds. Before I can ask for help when I am in need, He has given. Before I even formulate the thoughts onto a page, before they are even conceived….while I am yet speaking, He arrives. In spirit and in truth, in faithfulness and in love. So let us look at this theme today:
B’reshit 29; 8 “We can’t water the animals until all the flocks have arrived,” they replied. “Then the shepherds move the stone from the mouth of the well, and we water all the sheep and goats.” 9 Jacob was still talking with them עֹודֶ֖נּוּ מְדַבֵּ֣ר when Rachel arrived with her father’s flock, for she was a shepherd. 10 And because Rachel was his cousin—the daughter of Laban, his mother’s brother—and because the sheep and goats belonged to his uncle Laban, Jacob went over to the well and moved the stone from its mouth and watered his uncle’s flock. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and he wept aloud. 12 He explained to Rachel that he was her cousin on her father’s side—the son of her aunt Rebekah. So Rachel quickly ran and told her father, Laban.
Sh’mot 31;16 So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’ 17 It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.” 18 When He had finished speaking כְּכַלֹּתֹו֙ לְדַבֵּ֤ר with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God…..32; 6 So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. 7 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them.
I Shmuel 17; 20 So David arose early in the morning and left the flock with a keeper and took the supplies and went as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the circle of the camp while the army was going out in battle array shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines drew up in battle array, army against army. 22 Then David left his baggage in the care of the baggage keeper, and ran to the battle line and entered in order to greet his brothers. 23 As he was talking וְה֣וּא מְדַבֵּ֣ר with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine from Gath named Goliath, was coming up from the army of the Philistines, and he spoke these same words; and David heard them. 24 When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid. 25 The men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who is coming up? Surely he is coming up to defy Israel. And it will be that the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.” 26 Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?”
I Kings 1; 14 “Behold, while you are still there speaking עֹודָ֛ךְ מְדַבֶּ֥רֶת with the king, I will come in after you and confirm your words.” 15 So Bathsheba went in to the king in the bedroom. Now the king was very old, and Abishag the Shunammite was ministering to the king. 16 Then Bathsheba bowed and prostrated herself before the king. And the king said, “What do you wish?” 17 She said to him, “My lord, you swore to your maidservant by the Lord your God, saying, ‘Surely your son Solomon shall be king after me and he shall sit on my throne.’ 18 Now, behold, Adonijah is king; and now, my lord the king, you do not know it. 19 He has sacrificed oxen and fatlings and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the sons of the king and Abiathar the priest and Joab the commander of the army, but he has not invited Solomon your servant. 20 As for you now, my lord the king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, to tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. 21 Otherwise it will come about, as soon as my lord the king sleeps with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon will be considered offenders.” 22 Behold, while she was still speaking עֹודֶ֥נָּה מְדַבֶּ֖רֶת with the king, Nathan the prophet came in. 23 They told the king, saying, “Here is Nathan the prophet.”
1 Kings 1; 40 All the people went up after him, and the people were playing on flutes and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth shook at their noise. 41 Now Adonijah and all the guests who were with him heard it as they finished eating. When Joab heard the sound of the trumpet, he said, “Why is the city making such an uproar?” 42 While he was still speaking עֹודֶ֣נּוּ מְדַבֵּ֔ר, behold, Jonathan the son of Abiathar the priest came. Then Adonijah said, “Come in, for you are a valiant man and bring good news.” 43 But Jonathan replied to Adonijah, “No! Our lord King David has made Solomon king. 44 The king has also sent with him Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites; and they have made him ride on the king’s mule. 45 Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king in Gihon, and they have come up from there rejoicing, so that the city is in an uproar. This is the noise which you have heard. 46 Besides, Solomon has even taken his seat on the throne of the kingdom. 47 Moreover, the king’s servants came to bless our lord King David, saying, ‘May your God make the name of Solomon better than your name and his throne greater than your throne!’ And the king bowed himself on the bed. 48 The king has also said thus, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, …who has granted one to sit on my throne today while my own eyes see it.’” 49 Then all the guests of Adonijah were terrified; and they arose and each went on his way.
2 Kings 6; 30 When the king heard the words of the woman, he tore his clothes—now he was passing by on the wall—and the people looked, and behold, he had sackcloth beneath on his body. 31 Then he said, “May God do so to me and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat remains on him today.” 32 Now Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. And the king sent a man from his presence; but before the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, “Do you see how this son of a murderer has sent to take away my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door and hold the door shut against him. Is not the sound of his master’s feet behind him?” 33 While he was still talking עֹודֶ֙נּוּ֙ מְדַבֵּ֣ר with them, behold, the messenger came down to him and he said, “Behold, this evil is from the Lord; why should I wait for the Lord any longer?”
Daniel 9; 19 O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.” 20 Now while I was speaking וְעֹ֨וד אֲנִ֤י מְדַבֵּר֙ and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God in behalf of the holy mountain of my God, 21 while I was still speaking וְעֹ֛וד אֲנִ֥י מְדַבֵּ֖ר in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering. 22 He gave me instruction and talked with me and said, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding. 23 At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision.
Matthew 6; 5 And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. Truly I tell you, they already have their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your inner room, shut your door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not babble on like pagans, for they think that by their many words they will be heard. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
Matthew 26; 44 So He left them and went away once more and prayed a third time, saying the same thing. 45 Then He returned to the disciples and said, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us go! See, My betrayer is approaching!” 47 While Yeshua was still speaking, Yehudah, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest Him.” 49 Going directly to Yeshua, he said, “Greetings, Rabbi,” and kissed Him. 50 “Friend,” Yeshua replied, “do what you came for.”
Let us look at another theme and follow it through scripture into this week’s Parasha listen/ look for echoes from the context of our Parasha:
#5375 (v) nasa נָשָׂא – to lift up the hand (swearing), lift up one’s head, lift up one’s countenance, to look upon, to lift up the eyes, to lift up the voice, crying out, rejoicing, to lift up the soul (desire,wish for), to bear, to carry, to bear with, to take, recieve, take hold of, accept, to help, aide, offer gifts.
# 6963 (masc. n) kol קוֹל – the voice, call with a loud voice, announce, proclaim, rumor, sound, voice, speech, words.
#1058 (v) bachah בָּכָה – to weep, to weep for, bewail, to come to anyone weeping, mourning.
Voices upraised and crying- wailing and weeping out of desperation- the spring of water which was always there (Avraham Ainu would never have turned out Hagar with insufficient water to sustain she and his son) but she just couldn’t see it. Wailing and weeping for the lack of fulfillment, the desire for the material which will never be sufficient to nourish…Esav mourns the loss of his personal glory and gain. Ya’acov meets his missing rib, the bone of his bone and he lifts his voice crying… he knows that it will never be able to be just he and Rachel. He knows there is much in store. He cries again this time inconsolably when his children rise, lifting their energies to comfort their father after the loss of Rachael’s son Yosef. The destined bechor, who later lifts up his eyes and see’s his only birth brother Benyamin and it is too much to contain. He cries. Yosef cries again so loudly that all of Egypt hears…when he finally reveals himself to his brothers. The people of Yosef, of Moshe, of God are poised to enter the land promised to Avraham, Yitsach and Ya’acov but they recieve an evil report which defeats them. They despair and lift up their voices in an astonishing and appalling preemptive mourning.
B’reshit 21:15 When the water in the skin was used up, she left the boy under one of the bushes.16 Then she went and sat down opposite him, about a bowshot away, for she said, “Do not let me see the boy die.” And she sat opposite him, and וַתִּשָּׂא אֶת קֹלָהּ וַתֵּֽבְךְּ lifted up her voice and wept . 17 God heard the lad crying; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is…19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the skin with water and gave the lad a drink.
B’reshit 27:33 Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, “Who was he then that hunted game and brought it to me, so that I ate of all of it before you came, and blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” 34 When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry (וַיִּצְעַ֣ק צְעָקָ֔ה גְּדֹלָ֥ה וּמָרָ֖ה), and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father! …37 But Isaac replied to Esau, “Behold, I have made him your master, and all his relatives I have given to him as servants; and with grain and new wine I have sustained him. Now as for you then, what can I do, my son?” 38 Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” So Esau lifted his voice and wept וַיִּשָּׂ֥א עֵשָׂ֛ו קֹלֹ֖ו וַיֵּֽבְךְ .
B’reshit 29:10 When Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the mouth of the well and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and וַיִּשָּׂ֥א אֶת קֹלֹ֖ו וַיֵּֽבְךְּ lifted his voice and wept . 12 Jacob told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.
B’reshit 37:31 So they took Joseph’s tunic, and slaughtered a male goat and dipped the tunic in the blood; 32 and they sent the varicolored tunic and brought it to their father and said, “We found this; please examine it to see whether it is your son’s tunic or not.” 33 Then he examined it and said, “It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn to pieces!” 34 So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. 35 Then all his sons and all his daughters arose וַיָּקֻמוּ֩ to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he said, “Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son.” So his father wept for him וַיֵּ֥בְךְּ אֹתֹ֖ו אָבִֽיו.
B’reshit 43:29 As he lifted וַיִּשָּׂ֣א his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, he said, “Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me?” And he said, “May God be gracious to you, my son.” 30 Joseph hurried out for he was deeply stirred over his brother, and he sought a place to weep; and he entered his chamber and wept there וַיֵּ֥בְךְּ שָֽׁמָּה .
B’reshit 45:1 Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried, “Have everyone go out from me.” So there was no man with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 He wept so loudly וַיִּתֵּ֥ן אֶת קֹלֹ֖ו בִּבְכִ֑י that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard of it. 3 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. 4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they came closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 “Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.
Bemidbar 13:32 So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. 33 “There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” 14;1 Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried וַתִּשָּׂא֙ כָּל הָ֣עֵדָ֔ה וַֽיִּתְּנ֖וּ , and the people wept אֶת קֹולָ֑ם וַיִּבְכּ֥וּ הָעָ֖ם that night. 2 All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!
More lifting and weeping, the people are finally able to enter the promised land. Y’hoshua as leader, angel of Hashem as messenger…the reaffirmation of the covenant, the realization that the conquest is at hand. Perhaps the cry this time is a tikun for what caused their fathers to wander 40 years never realizing what they were now about to.
Jdg 2:1 Now the angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you, 2 and as for you, you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done? 3 “Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they will become as thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.’” 4 When the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, the people וַיִּשְׂא֥וּ הָעָ֛ם אֶת קֹולָ֖ם וַיִּבְכּֽוּ lifted up their voices and wept. …. 5 So they named that place Bochim; and there they sacrificed to the LORD. 6When Joshua had dismissed the people, the sons of Israel went each to his inheritance to possess the land.
A truly terrible cry due the dissension among brothers. There was a woman avenged and evil responded to. Benyamin, the tribe who held responsibility, is ‘cut off’ from the rest.
Jdg 21:1 Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah, saying, “None of us shall give his daughter to Benjamin in marriage.” 2 So the people came to Bethel and sat there before God until evening, and וַיִּשְׂא֣וּ קֹולָ֔ם וַיִּבְכּ֖וּ בְּכִ֥י גָדֹֽול lifted up their voices and wept (a great = kiy gadol). 3They said, “Why, O LORD, God of Israel, has this come about in Israel, so that one tribe should be missing today in Israel?”
A cry upraised, all these women still tender from loss…mourning and now are about to go their own separate ways. It is a cry regarding goodbye and subsequently I feel a cry of relief and regard. Rut will not be leaving Naomi, but still Orphah has gone, this study we are doing indicates the depth of their relationship. (Remember what Naomi tells her kin in Beit lechem? Ruth 1; 20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.)
Rth 1:8 And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9 “May the LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” Then she kissed them, and וַתִּשֶּׂ֥אנָה קֹולָ֖ן וַתִּבְכֶּֽינָה they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, “No, but we will surely return with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Return, my daughters. Why should you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 “Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight and also bear sons, 13 would you therefore wait until they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters; for it is harder for me than for you, for the hand of the LORD has gone forth against me.”14 And they lifted up their voices and wept וַתִּשֶּׂ֣נָה קֹולָ֔ן וַתִּבְכֶּ֖ינָה again; Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
Read 1 Samuel 11 for Context: (4) Then the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and spoke these words in the hearing of the people, and all the people וַיִּשְׂא֧וּ כָל הָעָ֛ם אֶת קֹולָ֖ם וַיִּבְכּֽוּ lifted up their voices and wept.
Read 1 Samuel 24 for context:(16) When David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” Then Saul lifted up his voice and wept וַיִּשָּׂ֥א שָׁא֛וּל קֹלֹ֖ו וַיֵּֽבְךְּ.
1Sa 30:1 Then it happened when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had made a raid on the Negev and on Ziklag, and had overthrown Ziklag and burned it with fire; 2 and they took captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great, without killing anyone, and carried them off and went their way. 3 When David and his men came to the city, behold, it was burned with fire, and their wives and their sons and their daughters had been taken captive. 4 Then David and the people who were with him וַיִּשָּׂ֨א lifted their voices and wept קֹולָ֖ם וַיִּבְכּ֑וּ until there was no strength in them to weep. 5 Now David’s two wives had been taken captive, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. 6 Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.
We hear a cry rise when an attack is on the horizon. Fear of death and bereavement. Saul lifts his voice and cries when he…in a dark place, where he can not see has an identifying garment torn by David. It is a voice in the dark where he can not see that tells him who his ‘son’ is…and he lifts up his voice and cries he knows he has lost something, the relationship has died, he mourns. This phrase- lifting up the voice and weeping….when it occurs it refers to irreplaceable, irretrievable loss.
It should be noted that the Hebrew of Esav’s bitter cry: צְעָקָ֔ה גְּדֹלָ֥ה וּמָרָ֖ה עַד מְאֹ֑ד is found only one other place in all of Tanakh: Esther 3; 13 Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces to destroy, to kill and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to seize their possessions as plunder….4;1 When Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city and זְעָקָ֥ה גְדֹלָ֖ה וּמָרָֽה wailed loudly and bitterly.
[ Keep this in mind, Ya’acov ends up bowing down to Esav, who had married into Ishmael and thus is a father of Amalek. Haman is a direct descendant of Amalek. The evil decree invented by Haman is directly related to the fact that Mordechai (of the tribe of Benyamin) does NOT bow down to him, Haman is Mordechai’s ‘Esav’. ]
I want to go back to the ‘deception’ of Yitsach. Let us read very closely what it is that Rivka originally asks of Ya’acov. Does she ask him to deceived her husband? Does she even suggest that deception should be involved in this request? (Bear in mind our previous lesson where we submitted that she was in the tent with Yitsach when he told Esav to go and fetch him game.)
B’reshit 27; 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Behold, I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, saying, 7 ‘Bring me some game and prepare a savory dish for me, that I may eat, and bless you in the presence of the Lord before my death.’ 8 Now therefore, my son, listen to me as I command you. 9 Go now to the flock and bring me two choice young goats from there, that I may prepare them as a savory dish for your father, such as he loves. 10 Then you shall bring it to your father, that he may eat, so that he may bless you before his death.”
I submit that originally, Rivka specifically asks her son to take the savory meats which she will prepare in a way that she knows he likes them (I suggested that he would have known the difference between her cooking and Esav’s). Rivka asks her son to take said delicacies into his father and make his case. Here I am father, your son Ya’acov…I can bring you delicacies too. In effect, my mother supports this case…and I believe I deserve the blessing. I am the one who will honor the destiny of Avraham and I believe you should bless me. Go into your father that he may bless you.
I think the dressing of Ya’acov in the bechor garments could have been meant to be a sign to Yitsach of her agreeing with Ya’acov becoming the blessed one at this point. Rivka never asked him to deceive anyone, it could have been on the up and up. It was Ya’acov’s concern at being ‘seen’ that way that she responds to with the garments.
– “ Indeed he will be blessed.” This is Yitsach’s response, for someone who was just deceived it is a strange reaction, yet Ya’acov indeed finds himself in a heap of trouble. Ya’acov is blessed before leaving home, he is continually reminded that God is with him. Having several visions of angels and messages from Hashem- guiding, strengthening, instructing and challenging him. When Ya’acov arrives at the house of Lavan he is empty-handed. Rashi explains there are several reasons for Ya’acov’s tears: Why Cry? This should be his happiest moment, he realizes this is the woman of his dreams. Ya’acov saw he would not be buried with her. He saw that he came with empty hands. He see’s that it will never be just the two of them. He see’s that she will die and that her son’s will be taken from him.
B’reshit 29; 11Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted his voice and wept. 12 Jacob told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.13So when Laban heard the news of Jacob his sister’s son, he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Then he related to Laban all these things.14 Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh.” And he stayed with him a month. 15Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” 16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17And Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and face. 18 Now Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19 Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than to give her to another man; stay with me.” 20So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.
-Ya’acov is very clear with Lavan, again we have the Torah using seemingly “superfluous” words in order to bring our attention to something. Ya’acov knows, at least in part, who he is dealing with therefore he must iterate: for your daughter, the younger one, for Rachael. There are many things that transpire over the 20 years Ya’acov is in Lavan’s house. The first notable turning point is after the first seven years of service at which time Ya’acov has to approach Lavan and demand his wife.
(see: Vayikra 19; 13‘You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning. 14‘You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the LORD. & Devarim 24;14“You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your countrymen or one of your aliens who is in your land in your towns. 15“You shall give him his wages on his day before the sun sets, for he is poor and sets his heart on it; so that he will not cry against you to the LORD and it become sin in you.)
B’reshit 29; 21Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my time is completed, that I may go in to her.” 22 Laban gathered all the men of the place and made a feast. 23 Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah, and brought her to him; and Jacob went in to her. 24 Laban also gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid. 25 So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?” 26But Laban said, “It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the firstborn.
-Lavan puts his daughters, both of them, in a situation where they have to ‘betray’ one another and the one they love. Ya’acov finds himself in a tent, in the evening when it is dark and hard to see, this time the elder is posing as the younger. Ya’acov gets deceived.
Lavan’s response is a direct jab at Ya’acov- this is not how its done here, not like you did… here we don’t put the younger in the place of the firstborn.
B’reshit 31;1Now Jacob heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, “Jacob has taken away all that was our father’s, and from what belonged to our father he has made all this wealth.” 2 Jacob saw the attitude of Laban, and behold, it was not friendly toward him as formerly. 3Then the LORD said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.” 4So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to his flock in the field, 5 and said to them, “I see your father’s attitude, that it is not friendly toward me as formerly, but the God of my father has been with me. 6“You know that I have served your father with all my strength. 7“Yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times; however, God did not allow him to hurt me. 8“If he spoke thus, ‘The speckled shall be your wages,’ then all the flock brought forth speckled; and if he spoke thus, ‘The striped shall be your wages,’ then all the flock brought forth striped. 9“Thus God has taken away your father’s livestock and given them to me.
Yosef is born to Rachel, and Ya’acov has a vision, the direction comes from Hashem and he is meant to leave Lavan’s house and continue on his journey. I can’t imagine the state of Lavan’s behavior toward Ya’acov if he states, ‘he’s not as friendly as he was’! Ya’acov takes the council of his wives, treated them of value and pouring out his heart before them. He doesn’t command them, he explains the situation and awaits their response.
B’reshit 31; 14 Rachel and Leah said to him, “Do we still have any portion or inheritance in our father’s house? 15“Are we not reckoned by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and has also entirely consumed our purchase price. 16 “Surely all the wealth which God has taken away from our father belongs to us and our children; now then, do whatever God has said to you.” 17 Then Jacob arose and put his children and his wives upon camels; 18and he drove away all his livestock and all his property which he had gathered, his acquired livestock which he had gathered in Paddan-aram, to go to the land of Canaan to his father Isaac. 19 When Laban had gone to shear his flock, then Rachel stole the household idols that were her father’s. 20 And Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him that he was fleeing. [ God’s message to Ya’acov was: “Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you… now arise, leave this land, and return to the land of your birth.” Whether or not God approved of Ya’acov’s covert departure, we know what he warns Lavan while he hotly pursues them: “Be careful that you do not speak to Jacob either good or bad.”
[ I can not help but think of this reminder from Hashem, that Lavan once acknowledged the right of the bride to be taken, especially considering the matter had been arranged by the Lord. Ber. 24; 50 Then Laban and Bethuel replied, “The matter comes from the Lord; so we cannot speak to you bad or good. 51 Here is Rebekah before you, take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has spoken.” ]
Ber. 30; 27 But Laban said to him, “If now it pleases you; I have divined that the Lord has blessed me on your account.” …31 So he said, “What shall I give you?” And Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything.
-Lavan is well aware that God has blessed his house because Ya’acov is there. (Much like Potiphar’s house was blessed because Yosef was there, much like the regions of the countries of the world where Torah Jewry is permitted to thrive…those regions flourished and when they expelled their Jewish resident’s their prosperity began to decline, and as we can clearly see Israel has blessed the entire world through technology, medicine, philanthropy and beyond. Yes: Zechariah 8; 22 ‘So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD.’ 23“Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’” Still, much like within the house of Lavan there is a fear and jealousy toward the Jewish people. A sense of entitlement. A hostility. There are ridiculous claims made as to ownership of the land and rights to Yerushalayim which seem in line with the deranged claims of Lavan.
B’reshit 31; 43Then Laban replied to Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters, and the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine.
The Torah Cycle intersects with personal life, history and current events. Not a more deranged accord could have come about than what the UN announced (and the US allowed) regarding the Land of Israel.
Before Ya’acov can move on, he has to face…. his adversary. In the midst of this strange occurrence we find yet another instance hearkening back to the ‘deception of Yitsach’. There is a father, in a tent, groping around trying to feel (for his stolen items) and a child, this time it is the child who explains she can not rise (please rise and eat of my game) and in the end a kiss, blessing and departure.
B’reshit 31; 34 Now Rachel had taken the household idols and put them in the camel’s saddle, and she sat on them. And Laban felt through all the tent but did not find them. 35She said to her father, “Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for the manner of women is upon me.” So he searched but did not find the household idols….55 Early in the morning Laban arose, and kissed his sons and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned to his place.
#4959 (v) mashash מָשַׁשׁ – to touch, to grope, to feel out, (to explore with the hands).
Take a look at the only (rare 8) occurrences of Tanakh where Mashash is found:
Ber 27:12 “Perhaps my father will feel יְמֻשֵּׁ֙נִי֙ me, then I will be as a deceiver in his sight, and I will bring upon myself a curse and not a blessing.”
Ber. 27:22 So Jacob came close to Isaac his father, and he felt וַיְמֻשֵּׁ֑הוּ him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.”
Ber. 31:34 Now Rachel had taken the household idols and put them in the camel’s saddle, and she sat on them. And Laban felt וַיְמַשֵּׁ֥שׁ through all the tent but did not find them.
Ber. 31:37 “Though you have felt מִשַּׁ֣שְׁתָּ through all my goods, what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my kinsmen and your kinsmen, that they may decide between us two.
Shemot 10:21 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even a darkness which may be felt.” וְיָמֵ֖שׁ
Devarim 28:29 and you will grope מְמַשֵּׁ֣שׁ at noon, as the blind man gropes יְמַשֵּׁ֤שׁ in darkness, and you will not prosper in your ways; but you shall only be oppressed and robbed continually, with none to save you.
Yoav 5:14 “By day they meet with darkness, and grope יְֽמַשְׁשׁ֥וּ at noon as in the night.
Yoav 12:25 “They grope יְמַֽשְׁשׁוּ in darkness with no light, and He makes them stagger like a drunken man.
Before we part ways with Lavan please read the testimony of Ya’acov so that we can have an idea of what he has endured thus far:
B’reshit 31; 36Then Jacob became angry and contended with Laban; and Jacob said to Laban, “What is my transgression? What is my sin that you have hotly pursued me? 37“Though you have felt through all my goods, what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my kinsmen and your kinsmen, that they may decide between us two. 38“These twenty years I have been with you; your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten the rams of your flocks. 39“That which was torn of beasts I did not bring to you; I bore the loss of it myself. You required it of my hand whether stolen by day or stolen by night. 40“Thus I was: by day the heat consumed me and the frost by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes. 41“These twenty years I have been in your house; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flock, and you changed my wages ten times. 42“If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had not been for me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the toil of my hands, so He rendered judgment last night.”
I personally feel some satisfaction every time I read this section of text. After all of the suffering in silence and enduring with perseverance Ya’acov has weathered the betrayals and abuses of Lavan for years, and years, and years. He is finally able to make his case and state his claim. He is speaking the truth and is taking the next step toward becoming Yisrael. It is interesting that the term for kindling of anger (vay·yi·ḥar , from #2734 (v) Charah-חָרָה – burn, burning sensation from anger, rage, anger kindled ) in Bereshit majorly ‘belongs’ to Ya’acov, the reality is that he is human and does burn with anger but it is not without provocation. I think the context is also interesting, this kindled anger is namely pointed toward those ‘closest’ to him:
Ber 4:5 and the Lord had regard for Abel’s offering לֹ֣א שָׁעָ֑ה וַיִּ֤חַר לְקַ֙יִן֙ מְאֹ֔ד but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry…
Ber. 30:2 and she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die.” וַיִּֽחַר־ אַ֥ף יַעֲקֹ֖ב anger burned against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”
Ber. 31:36 וַיִּ֥חַר לְיַעֲקֹ֖ב וַיָּ֣רֶב Then Jacob became angry and contended with Laban; and Jacob said to Laban, “What is my transgression? What is my sin that you have hotly pursued me?
Ber. 34:7 Now the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved, and they were very angry וַיִּֽתְעַצְּבוּ֙ הָֽאֲנָשִׁ֔ים וַיִּ֥חַר לָהֶ֖ם מְאֹ֑ד because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.
Ber. 39:19 Now when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, “This is what your slave did to me ” לִ֖י עַבְדֶּ֑ךָ וַיִּ֖חַר אַפּֽ his anger burned.
When Leaving, Before Lavan-
Ya’acov has the incredible vision of Angels ascending and descending on a ladder which reaches heaven. He get’s the confirmation of his father’s blessing regarding the Abrahamic destiny and Eretz Yisrael from God ‘Himself’ and at this point he “speaks” to God. What is his attitude? What does this communication sound like? On the surface reading it sounds like Ya’acov is ‘bargaining’….
He doesn’t seem to have trust in God, perhaps due to his own personal guilt and due the fact that he is literally on the run for his life, perhaps he also lacks confidence (and faith) in himself. Does Ya’acov know who he really is at this point? He may feel unworthy of God’s protection thus it’s almost as though he is working angles, with leverage and trying to ‘seal the deal’ somehow with Hashem.
B’reshit 28; 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, 21and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the LORD will be my God.
It is almost as if while he is yet speaking after making covenant with Lavan Ya’acov arrives at another hazardous turn on his way. Before the two camps Ya’acov has become are able to reach their next stop, Esav comes back into the picture, and he is not alone. [Yitsach’s blessing to Ya’acov when he knows exactly who he’s speaking to: Ber. 28; 3”May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. 4″May He also give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your descendants with you, that you may possess the land of your sojournings, which God gave to Abraham.” Ber. 32; 7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and the herds and the camels, into two companies; 8 for he said, “If Esau comes to the one company and attacks it, then the company which is left will escape.” ]
Ya’acov has changed since his flight from Esav, his time alone with Hashem over long cold nights and grueling hot days, through family dysfunction and increasing demands upon him…he has learned to rely on Hashem. He has learned what it takes to face his demons and this is precisely what he is after. A face to face with Esav. It is taught that this confrontation was initiated by Ya’acov. Think about it. Leaving Laban, if you really want to let the ‘sleeping dog lie’ you go around, another way- whether it take you 2 or 20 years longer. Ya’acov sends out messengers and initiates this very dangerous contact.
B’reshit 32; 3 Then Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom.
The response from Esav was perhaps not as he had expected but Ya’acov does all that he can to prepare. Physically and intellectually he does everything he can, and at the end of it all he realizes and acknowledges that none of it will be his point of salvation. This is the turning point for Ya’acov and we, as readers, can realize that he has changed.
Before Encountering Esav-
B’reshit 32; 9Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,’ 10 I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies. 11“Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children. 12“For You said, ‘I will surely prosper you and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which is too great to be numbered.’”
There is no more bargaining, no more playing the stakes, no more reasoning, no more manipulating, no more hiding…Ya’acov is straightforward, vulnerable and bare before Hashem. God I am small, God I am afraid, please…save me! Ya’acov is encountering angels directly, God directly and Esav directly.
He is ready to face his brother and knows that he must before he can really move on with his life.The desired face to face with his brother we can see in the text itself.
#6437 (v) Panah פָּנָה- to turn to, to turn toward, to turn oneself, to behold, turn the eyes, to regard, to direct one’s course, to intend.
#6440 (Masc.N) Paniym פָּנִים- face, presence, person, surface, in front of, in the presence of, before the face of.
B’reshit 32; 17 He commanded the one in front, saying, “When my brother Esau meets you and asks you, saying, ‘To whom do you belong, and where are you going, and to whom do these animals in front of you לְפָנֶֽיךָ belong?’ 18 then you shall say, ‘These belong to your servant Jacob; it is a present sent to my lord Esau. And behold, he also is behind us.’” 19 Then he commanded also the second and the third, and all those who followed the droves, saying, “After this manner you shall speak to Esau when you find him; 20 and you shall say, ‘Behold, your servant Jacob also is behind us.’” For he said, “I will appease him (before his face) לְפָנָ֔י with the present that goes before me פָנָ֗יו. Then afterward I will see his face פָנָ֔יו; perhaps he will accept me (my face) פָנָֽי.”
The truth. I have applied Ya’acov’s prayer to my own life and heart. It is not easy to come with a genuine desire for truth…before the One you KNOW will give it to you without pulling punches. If you really want to know what is in your own heart in any situation, cry to Him. Ask for truth and get ready to recieve it. Be prepared to accept that you have been wrong and have sinned and be responsible for all the harm you may not have seen, to hold the guilt you may not have owned previously. But apply that prayer and ask for truth, be willing to face it and be a part of the station change, new name and personal growth which will follow. Before Ya’acov can actually face his brother, his past, his future he has to struggle. It is another struggle in the dark, when it’s hard to see, a blessing is requested and a name/destiny is ‘changed’. I realize there are many different ways these verses are considered but let us just follow this line of thinking (Ya’acov’s transformation and change) and ask some simple and profound questions.
I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and mercy you have shown me, I am small before the face of it, I am helpless before Your face, I am scared, I am afraid, I worry for everything and everyone I love and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. Every time I seek You in sincerity You hide not Your face, You respond while I yet speak. You answer I have lifted up my voice and cried out to You. So, I ask You to be here with me, to save me, to save those I love and to keep us from everything and everyone that could harm us. I trust You. I believe in You. I believe in who You made me to be, give me the chance to become that name. I ask that You save me for this is entirely out of my hands. I trust that as You do Your will You will draw me nearer to You, whether deliverance is Your goal for me or not. I will rest here in Your security come what may. I will believe in Your goodness & truth even when the circumstances seem hopeless.
B’reshit 32; 24 Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.
What does the text explicitly say. Ya’acov is alone. What is missing? Who is Ya’acov wrestling with? We’re not going to exclude the reality that before any real transformation can occur one must encounter God in some way. But let us just consider too that Ya’acov has to wrestle with himself. Why do you ask my name? You know my name. I already have the blessings. I have them from Yitsach, I have them from Esav but it still doesn’t fell right, I want them from ‘me’. I want to be able to look at myself in the face and say “I can have these blessings”. Ya’acov is now able to do what he should have done in the first place and directly make his appeal. Now it’s an appeal to himself- face to face- direct. And in the end what is it he really wants, a new name. Ya’acov is not who he was meant to be, this is why Rivka never calls him by that name. Now he can be Yisrael.
B’reshit 33;1 Then Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. 2 He put the maids and their children in front, and Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last. 3 But he himself passed on ahead of them and bowed down to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. 4 Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.…9 But Esau said, “I have plenty, my brother; let what you have be your own.” 10 Jacob said, “No, please, if now I have found favor in your sight, then take my present from my hand, for I see your face as one sees the face of God, and you have received me favorably. 11 Please take my gift (ka na et birchati קַח נָ֤א אֶת בִּרְכָתִי֙) which has been brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me and because I have plenty. (kol- I have it all).” Thus he urged him and he took it.
Yisrael has placed before his brother an extravagant gift, showing his brother that he is willing to give Esav a huge portion of the wealth that the blessing was meant to produce (bearing in mind that Laban made his gain extremely difficult and that with God’s help he earned every ‘penny’). The blessing Yitsach gave Esav which enraged him included mention that he would serve his brother, thus Ya’acov bows indicating (in a way) “see the blessing didn’t work” you are not my servant I am bowing to you. And as if that weren’t enough the text translated in English as please take my gift….in the Hebrew actually says: Please, take my blessing! Yisrael is saying to Esav, take my wealth, take my honor, take my blessing. Peace and tikun with you at this point is worth it all. Yisrael was humbled in the ‘encounter’ the previous night and he was injured yet- he was uplifted in another sense. At this encounter he too is humbled yet, he has preserved his family and been delivered by God. Things matter not, wealth matters not, personal honor matters not….to live in truth, to love wholly, to pursue Hashem’s purpose with confidence in ourselves… ‘another chance’ is worth all the treasure, profit and attainment any given day could ever bring.
#1293 ( Fem. n) Berakah בְּרָכָה – a blessing, benediction, invocation of good, a gift, present, peace.
Mishlei 11; 25 The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered. 26 He who withholds grain, the people will curse him, but blessing will be on the head of him who sells. 27 He who diligently seeks good seeks favor, but he who seeks evil, evil will come to him. 28 He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like the green leaf. 29 He who troubles his own house will inherit wind, and the foolish will be servant to the wise hearted.
B’reshot 33; 18 Now Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan-aram, and camped before the city.
Va’ya bo Ya’acov shalem iyr Shechem…Ya’acov came complete/whole/in peace to Shechem…
ויבא יעקב שלם עיר שכם
#8003 (adj.) Shalem שָׁלֵם – whole, perfect, sound, safe, complete, finished, cherishing peace and friendship. [see also #7999 (v) Shalam שָׁלַם]
The second of very few occurrences of Shalem is found in the above context. Take a look at the FIRST occurrence: Ber 15:12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. 13 God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. 14 “But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. 15 “As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. 16 “Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete. שָׁלֵם”
God will never give us more than we can endure. He takes us through one struggle only to strengthen us for the next encounter, that we can greet it and remember what we have learned from the last experience. God is with us all the time through the good and the bad, when we prosper when we are in want. By the moment He molds us and equip’s us with the logic and faith we require to assess and conquer at every confrontation. His ultimate desire for us is peace- whose root means completeness. It was not merely that Ya’acov escaped war (shalom is not the absence of war or struggle) it is that God gave him a more whole and complete sense of who he was and his rights to the blessings as well as his responsibilities which are ongoing. Yisrael’s struggles have not ended here, he has only been strengthened enough to prepare for the subsequent challenges. The ramifications of the next events will follow his family all the way into the Egyptian exile. He arrives at his next challenge Shalem- complete, ready to take on what comes next. So may it be for us.
1 Corinthians 10; 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
Shabbat Shalom! Chag Channukah Sameach!
Baruch Attah Adonai Eloheinu Melech HaOlam
Blessed are You Lord My God, King of the universe.
You have blessed us with the Torah of Truth, You have blessed us with the entire counsel of Your living word. You alone have planted among us Life Eternal.
Blessed are You Lord our God gracious Giver of the Torah.
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Note: Much of the learning for this entry came from Rabbi David Fohrman and Rabbi Ari Kahn’s internet sources which can be accessed by going to the home page and Resources entry of this blog.