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Struggling With a Deceitful Heart

The inner turmoil that marked Jacob’s life of deceitfulness as well as his struggle with his father, brother, and sons are exposed in Vayishlach. After many years of separation, Jacob, about to meet his estranged brother, Esau, slept in a dream-like state of wakefulness on the shore of the Jabbok River where a man wrestled with him until the rise of dawn. 

D'var Torah By: 
Confronting Mistakes in Order to Grow
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Sarah Mack

Growth often comes from the things we wish most to avoid. In Vayishlach, that is just what Jacob discovers on that dark night on the banks of the Jabbok river. He confronts his mistakes and in the process transforms from his former self, Ya-akov, which can mean “usurper” or “birthright stealer,” to Yisrael a name meaning “one who struggles with God.” 

A Biblical Text of Terror

In the midst of this week’s parashah, most of which focuses on Jacob’s return to the land of Canaan with his wives, maidservants, and children, is a lengthy story about Jacob’s only daughter, Dina (Genesis 34). While Jacob briefly appears in this story, he plays a surprisingly insignificant role. Indeed, after Jacob hears that Dina has been raped by Shechem, a local Hivite prince, he neither tells anyone nor takes any action, choosing to wait until his sons, who are in the fields tending to the livestock, return home (Genesis 34:5). 

D'var Torah By: 
Using Our Inheritance to Save and Not Destroy
Davar Acher By: 
David Ariel-Joel

After raping Dina, Shechem, who was in love with Dina, offered to marry her. Four books later we will find out that Shechem is the paradigm of the biblical law. In Deuteronomy 22:28-29 we read that if a man rapes a virgin he has to marry her and pay 50 shekels to her father. Shechem offers much more than that.

So what does not make sense in the story of Dina?

An Emissary of Peace

Most often, readers of the portion Vayishlach focus on the encounter between Jacob and Esau near the river Jabbok. For good reason!

D'var Torah By: 
Hard Lessons
Davar Acher By: 
Vanessa Ehrlich

When you ask any of our students or even their parents what they remember about Jacob, they may tell you about how he deceived Isaac to obtain Esau's birthright.

Facing Our Anxieties and Moving On

Our father Jacob is a man in motion. Even in the womb, he struggled to get out. Of all the patriarchs, we know him best. We've followed the ups and downs in his life.

D'var Torah By: 
Struggling to Find Yourself
Davar Acher By: 
David Friedman

Our Torah portion begins with Jacob's seeking to find ways to make peace with his brother, Esau. After all, Jacob knows that he attained his status through trickery and by deceiving Isaac.

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