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In Melbourne Shabbat begins Fri 3 Apr 2020 06:52 PM and ends Sat 4 Apr 2020 07:50 PM

Parshat Vayishlach Summary

ט"ז כסלו ה' אלפים תש"ע




Seven people are called up to the Torah Reading. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person "goes up" to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.

1st 2nd & 3rd Aliyot: Yaakov (Jacob) returns to the Israel after 20-years in Charan where he married Leah and Rachel, has a large family. Yaakov sends messengers to Esau in hope of a reconciliation, but they report that his brother is on the warpath with 400 armed men. Yaakov does 3 things - he prepares for war, prays, and sends Esau a large gift (consisting of hundreds of heads of sheep and cattle) to appease him.

During the night, Yaakov sends his family and possessions across the Yabbok River but remains behind and encounters the angel of Esau, which he wrestles with until daybreak. Yaakov suffers a dislocated hip but wins and the angel names him Yishrael (Israel), which means "He who prevails over the Divine."

4th Aliyah: Jacob and Esau meet, embrace and kiss, but go there separate ways. Jacob lives near Shechem, Eisav returns to his kingdom of Seir.  abducts and rapes Jacob's daughter Dinah.

5th Aliyah: Dinah's daughter is abducted and raped, her brothers Shimon and Levi avenge the deed by killing all male inhabitants of the city.

6th & 7th Aliyot: Rachel dies while giving birth to her second son, Benjamin, and is buried in a roadside grave near Bethlehem. Reuben loses the birthright because he interferes with his father's marital life. Yaakov arrives in Hebron, to his father Isaac, who later dies at age 180. His mother (Rivkah has passed away before Jacob's arrival). The parshah concludes detailing Esau's wives, children and grandchildren and their families.


Obadiah 1:1-21

This week's haftorah deals with the punishment of Edom, the descendents of Esau, whose conflict with Jacob is chronicled in this week's Torah reading.

The prophet Obadiah, was an Edomian convert to Judaism, describes the punishment destined for the nation of Edom. The Edomites did not come to Judea's aid when she was being destroyed by the Babylonians, and even joined in the carnage. Many years later the Edomites (the Roman Empire) themselves destroyed the Second Temple and mercilessly killed and enslaved their Jewish cousins.

Though the Roman Empire was one of the mightiest to ever inhabit the earth, the prophet forewarns: "If you go up high like an eagle, and if you place your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down, says the Lord. . . And the house of Jacob shall be fire and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau shall become stubble, and they shall ignite them and consume them, and the house of Esau shall have no survivors, for the Lord has spoken."

After describing the division of Esau's lands amongst the returning Judean exiles, the haftorah concludes with the well known phrase: "And saviors shall ascend Mt. Zion to judge the mountain of Esau, and the Lord shall have the kingdom."

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