Vayishlach / Chanukah

ויחץ את העם אשר אתו...לשני מחנות...והיה המחנה הנשאר לפליטה  לב:ח-ט      Rashi explains that Yaakov was not just hopeful that, in the event Eisav would smite the first encampment, the second encampment would survive, but he was confident of that fact because Yaakov planned, “I will fight against him”. What was the guarantee, though? Yaakov put a days’-travel space between the two encampments. Why? Back in parshas Toldos, Rivkah told Yaakov to flee, and added, “Why should I lose both of you on the same day?” In other words, Rashi explains there, if Eisav will try to kill Yaakov, Yaakov would kill him first, and then Eisav’s sons would kill Yaakov. The underlying message, though, of her words is that she knew b’ruach ha’kodesh that Yaakov and Eisav would die on the same day. Therefore, reasoned Yaakov, if I will fight against Eisav and he will manage to kill me, that means he too will die on that day, and he therefore will not have an opportunity to wipe out the other encampment which is a day’s distance away. In fact, Chazal tell us that Eisav lived longer than Yaakov. Yaakov was only brought to Mearas HaMachpeilah months after he died. When Eisav challenged his entry, Chushim ben Dan drew his sword and chopped off Eisav’s head. So, really, Rivkah’s nevuah was not going on the day of their respective deaths, but was in reference to the same day of burial. (From Rebbetzin Twersky)


ויקח מן הבא בידו מנחה לעשו אחיו   לב:יד     The Ramban writes that the Torah describes the events surrounding Yaakov meeting up with Eisav after all these years in order to show us how Hashem saved His servant from the one who was stronger than him, as well as to bring to our attention that Yaakov did not rely on his own righteousness and put forth maximum effort to save himself and his family. Furthermore, writes the Ramban, there is an allusion in this narrative for all generations, for everything that happened to Yaakov avinu with Eisav is what is always going to happen with us with the descendants of Eisav. And we should follow in the model of doron, teffilah, v’milchamah as Chazal bring to our attention. A classic example of this is what once took place during Reb Chaim’s tenure as rav of Brisk (ed. note – I have embellished the story to make for a pleasant read, but have not changed the basic narrative): At a certain point, the old governor-general was replaced with a new one. Life in Czarist Russia was very difficult for the Jews as a general rule, and employing bribery to obtain the ability to simply survive as Jews was an unfortunately necessary part and parcel of life. The previous governor-general had been more than happy to accept the Jews’ periodic “gifts”, and that’s how the Jews of Brisk were able to live. However, very soon after assuming his office, the new governor-general summoned the communal leaders and made it clear to them that such times were over. “I am a man of impeccable honesty!” the new governor-general told the hapless Jewish community leaders, “And under no circumstances will any laws be bent. Ever! Do I make myself abundantly clear?” Crestfallen, the communal leaders went to Reb Chaim to ask what could possibly be done under the circumstances? “Don’t worry so much,” Reb Chaim told them, “just collect ten times the amount that used to be given as a bribe to the previous governor-general and bring it to the new one.” Suffice it to say, the communal leaders were quite skeptical, but, trusting their beloved rav, they did as instructed. In the end, Reb Chaim’s insight proved to be right on the mark. The new, “impeccably honest” governor-general accepted the aggrandized bribe, and the Jews of Brisk breathed a collective sigh of relief. (From Rebbetzin Twersky)


ואתה אמרת היטב איטיב עמך  לב:יג

Rav Zelig Reuven Bengis zt”l explained that this expression, “You said, ‘I will bestow great beneficence upon you’”, is underscoring the fact that Yaakov Avinu heard this nevuah directly from Hashem. As such, it was a prophesy for an individual, not the public. That is why Yaakov was expressing concern that, “perhaps I have become sullied in sin and am no longer worthy of Divine favor” (see Rashi 32:11). A prophesy of positive tidings that is said for the public will never be rescinded, but one that was said only to an individual can be withdrawn.        (From Reb Yehuda Hartzig)

(וישא את עיניו וירא את הנשים (לג:ה

The best way to be careful from forbidden gazing and thoughts is by occupying the mind with divrei Torah.  Rav Wolbe writes in Alei Shur that when one thinks in learning, it is a koach that can protect him from seeing pritzus.

In Chayei Sarah, regarding Yitzchak, it says (24:63) “va’yeitzei Yitzchak… vayisa einav vayar v’hinei hagemalim ba’im”.  He saw the camels.  Regarding Eisav, though, it says in this week’s parsha, (33:5) “vayisah es einav vayar es hanashim v’es hayeladim.”  The first thing Eisav saw is the women.

We see from here that to a great extent what one sees goes according to what his mind is occupied with.

Therefore, whenever one is about to go out onto the street, one should prepare divrei Torah to think about.  (Often, a concept or kashya to ponder – something about which you can think in depth – can be preferable to chazara from which it can be easier to become distracted).

(From the notes of Reb Matis Feld)

(ויבן לו בית ולמקנהו עשה סכת (לג:יז) סכות קיץ בית חורף (רש”י שם

The weather should not be the deciding factor whether or not to do something. If it is something important to do, it is important even if the weather is bad; and if it’s not important, then don’t do it even if the weather is fair.

Generally speaking, in Eretz Yisrael we don’t have the merit to experience the challenge of really bad weather.  However, when we are zocheh, on occasion, to have this challenge, we should embrace it with a great simcha shel mitzvah; and run to the Beis Medrash with great enthusiasm!

(From Reb Chaim Rosen)

ויתעצבו האנשים ויחר להם מאד…הכזונה יעשה את אחותנו (לד:ז,לא)

Rav Baruch Ber of Mezibuzh said: “When it comes to our own yissurim, we must have emunah. But when it comes to the yissurim of others, one must be nosei b’ol and feel their pain!”

(From Reb Binyamin Angular)

ויהיו בני יעקב שנים עשר   לה:כב

Citing Chazal, Rashi explains that this pasuk indicates that all twelve sons of Yaakov avinu were equal in stature. They were all tzaddikim. Out of the avos ha’kedoshim, only Yaakov merited this, that all of his sons turned out to be tzaddikim. Avraham, though, had Yishmael, and Yitzchak had Eisav. So why is that? What was different about Yaakov that all his sons turned out all right?

Avraham avinu was the middah of chesed, kindness. Yitzchak avinu was the middah of gevurah and din, might and justice. Kindness and might are not inherently bound to the straight path. There is such a thing as chesed gone wrong, as well as might and strict justice that can be employed towards evil. Accordingly, it was possible for Avraham and Yitzchak to have children that could go off. Yishmael was chesed gone wrong, and Eisav was might gone wrong.

Yaakov, on the other hand, was the middah of emes, truth. And emes is emes! By definition, emes cannot be twisted off the straight path of goodness. Emes cannot be diverted to the path of evil. Therefore, all of Yaakov’s sons were tzaddikim. The Shivtei Kah.

It cannot be emphasized enough that one must not think that Avraham and Yitzchak were somehow deficient in their parenting. They were in no need of parenting classes. On the contrary, the avos and imahos ha’kedoshim were the best parents in the world!         (From Reb Adam Binyamin Kaufman)

Featured Story

During my latter years of high school, I was often the only child at home. My father generally would come home late, often around midnight. Usually, I would still be up at that time of night, and I would talk with my father as he ate his supper. On Thursday nights, he would often go for long walks after eating his supper.

I would often accompany him on these walks, even though I wouldn’t usually engage him in conversation during that time as I didn’t want to interrupt him from thinking in learning.

One time, though, we were walking down Kanfei Nesharim Street around 1:00 a.m., and we passed a fast-food store packed with boys that were hanging out there. I turned to my father and asked, “Tatty, how did you manage that all three of your boys turned out so well? How were you zocheh to such good kids?” He was silent for a few moments. Then he said, “Of course, everything is ultimately siyata d’Shemaya…,” then he paused again. “But in terms of what I may have done… I think it is the personal involvement I always made sure to have with my children.”

Those words had a very deep impact on me, but it was only four or five years later that I fully realized how fundamentally meaningful his words were. We were having a family conversation about things that are important in parenting, and my father said, “Yes, I once discussed this point with Nechamy.” “Tatty, you remember that conversation?” I said in surprise. “Of course I do;” my father told me, “I’m surprised that you remember it!”

It was then that I fully realized how meaningful this point was to my father, of being deeply and personally involved in his children’s lives.          (Mrs. Nechama Charlop)

Chanukah – Ohr Ha’Ganuz

The Rokeiach says that the 36 neiros of Chanukah correspond to the 36 hours that the hidden light shone during the six days of creation.

There are three points at which we find the ohr ha’ganuz. The first is day one of creation when Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu created it. Immediately, though, He hid it away. On the sixth day when Adam was created, the hidden light emerged. Although it really should have been hidden away immediately when Adam sinned, it stayed for Shabbos – making a total of thirty six hours.

For what was the ohr ha’ganuz hidden? For the tzaddikim l’asid lavoh.  So the third point at which we find the ohr ha’ganuz is l’asid lavoh.

Rashi says the first day of creation is called yom echad as opposed to rishon, because there was only Yechido shel Olam. What that means is that there was a state of ein od milvado in the most literal sense. There was an absolute clarity of the reality of Hashem’s oneness. Likewise, l’asid lavoh will be a state of Hashem echad u’Shmo echad, of Hashem hu ha’Elokim.

And what brings the briah from one point to the next? Adam. That is why the ohr ha’ganuz came out when Adam was created. Although we cannot fully grasp the ohr ha’ganuz for the time being, our actions are what gradually lead towards it, and allow us to get a sense of it even now.

The Rokeiach revealed to us that this inyan of ohr ha’ganuz is in Chanukah. The Chashmonaim reached a very high level of awareness of ein od milvado. That is what empowered them to be moser nefesh against all odds.

Every day of Chanukah this is revealed. At the time of lighting the neiros, or perhaps through the lighting of the neiros. So let’s try it. Taamu u’reu. Let’s see if we can get a chizuk in emunah each day with the hadlakas neiros Chanukah.

Provided courtesy of