Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Vayishlach

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Parshas Vayishlach tells us of the epic encounter between Yaakov and Aisov. The Parshah begins by telling us how Yaakov Avinu prepared for this meeting[1]. “Yaakov sent Malochim ahead of him to his brother Aisov, to the land of Seir, the field of Edom.”

The Hebrew word [2] “Malochim – מלאכים“ has two possible translations; it can mean either a messenger or an angel[3]. Rashi teaches us that here it means literal, actual angels; i.e., Yaakov sent angels to his brother.

Several of the commentaries ask an obvious question on Rashi’s words[4]. Rashi explains the simple meaning of the Torah. What compels him to explain that Yaakov sent actual angels to Aisov? Saying that he sent human messengers seems to be much more in keeping with Peshat.

What is the Halachah if a messenger suffers damage while performing his mission? The one who sent him must do Teshuvah[5].

Yaakov knew that his brother intended to kill him. He would not hesitate to kill any “flesh and bones” messenger that Yaakov would send. Hence, he could not send a regular Shliach; he could only send a spiritual being who Aisov could not harm.

This Shabbos, we will observe the tremendous Chassidic festival of Yud Tes Kislev, the 19th of Kislev. The Alter Rebbe, the founder of Chassidus Chabad, had been imprisoned in Czarist Russia. On this day, we commemorate his release. At the same time, from Above, we were permitted to publicize Chassidic teachings, the Torah’s mysteries, to the broadest possible audience.

The 19th of Kislev also marks the Yahrzeit of the Alter Rebbe’s mentor, Rabbi Dov Ber, the great Maggid of Mezritch. The Maggid explained what Rashi means by “actual angels.”
He taught that Yaakov only sent the “actual” aspect of the angels. Their spiritual component remained at all times with Yaakov.”

We must learn from our forefather Yaakov that even when we face wicked Aisov, we must retain the Divine aspect of everything we do.

Have a great week, a wonderful Shabbos, and a meaningful Yud Tes Kislev!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 5, p. 389 ff.

DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris

לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס


[1]. Our Parshah, Bereishis 32:3.

[2]. Singular Maloch – מלאך – Angel.

[3]. Because an angel’s total purpose is to serve as a messenger of Hashem, the word Malochim also means messenger.

[4]. See the Mizrachi, the Gur Aryeh and others on this verse.

[5]. See the Be’er Haiteiv to Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim, at the end of chapter 603.

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