VaYishlach: Alone at Night

“Therefore, the Jewish people will not eat the gid hanasheh, sciatic nerve, that is on the hip joint, to this day” (Breisheet 32:33).  Sefer Breisheet provides much information on how not to act; we read about every kind of social dysfunction—be it drinking, sibling rivalry, jealousy, greed or more violent crimes such as robbery, kidnapping, rape, incest and murder.

VaYishlach: Where Was Rivka?

One of the fascinating (and, at times, frustrating) aspects of the Torah is how much information it does not tell us. We know nothing of Abraham’s first 75 years, are left in the dark regarding most of Moshe’s first 80 years and so many of the laws of the Torah are written in a way that is somewhere between obscure and incomprehensible. Of course, this is intentional; and analyzing what makes it into the text and why, and what does not, is itself an important aspect of Torah study.

Vayishlach: Jacob, the Lonely Man of Faith

Avraham Avinu is known as "ha'Ivri" as the world was on one side, and he was alone on the other. It is not easy challenging the ideas of society around you - and G-d understood that to be successful, Abraham would have to leave home and travel to a foreign land. While Abraham had to start anew, away from most of his family, he was not lonely. He had a loving wife, seemed to make friends easily, and was heavily involved with political leaders around the world like Pharaoh, Avimelech, and the 9 kings at war.

Vayishlach: Two is a Crowd

It is for good reason that co-wives are described as tzarot, literally, problems. Competing as they inevitably must for the same man, their relationship is destined to be one of jealousy, bickering and even hatred. Jewish law, recognizing this sad situation, disqualifies the testimony of one of the tzarot regarding the other—we are afraid that they will simply lie.

VaYishlach: Changing Names

Names play a significant role in Jewish thought. A cursory glance at the names given to the twelve tribes signifies the importance of each name. Noach, Moshe, and Yitzchak had their names chosen to commemorate events surrounding their births. And of course, the Torah records many instances where a name was changed, signifying a change in the status of the person. Of our three patriarchs, Abraham and Yaakov both had their names changed by G-d. Only Yitzchak remained Yitzchak his entire life.

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