Updated: Nov 15, 2021
Parashat Vayishlach 5782 / פָּרָשַׁת וַיִּשְׁלַח
Read on 20 November 2021 / 16 Kislev 5782.
Parashat Vayishlach is the 8th weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading.
In Parashat Vayishlach, Jacob reconciles with Esau after wrestling with a "man". The prince Shechem rapes Dinah, whose brothers sack the city of Shechem in revenge. In the family's subsequent flight, Rachel gives birth to Benjamin and dies in childbirth.
Triennial year 3
1: 35:16-26 · 11 p’sukim ·
2: 35:27-29 · 3 p’sukim ·
3: 36:1-8 · 8 p’sukim ·
4: 36:9-19 · 11 p’sukim ·
5: 36:20-30 · 11 p’sukim ·
6: 36:31-39 · 9 p’sukim ·
7: 36:40-43 · 4 p’sukim ·
maf: 36:40-43 · 4 p’sukim ·
Haftarah: Obadiah 1:1 - 1:21 · 21 p’sukim
Jacob and his family have left Laban and are enroute to his native home. He is preparing to meet up with his estranged brother Esau, through whose land he will be passing. Jacob prepares lavish gifts of livestock for Esau as a peace-offering and to amend taking the birthright. Messengers he sent return to tell him Esau knows his whereabouts and is coming to meet him with 400 men. Jacob is concerned and divides his family and entourage into two camps just in case one is attacked and doesn’t survive. He also prays to Hashem for guidance and protection. That night, Jacob has a vision in which he is wrestling with an angel, the guardian of Esau, whom the Torah describes as a “man”. Jacob suffers a dislocated hip but vanquishes the supernatural creature, who bestows on him the name, “Israel”, which means “he who prevails over the divine”, after his victory over the angel of Esau, with whom he struggled on the banks of the River Jabbok. It can be interpreted to “prevailer over mighty”, “prince of G-d” or “upright one of G-d”.
Jacob can now see Esau and his men coming. He divides his entourage into his servants, Leah and her children, and Rachel and Joseph. Esau approaches and they embrace and weep. Jacob offers gifts to Esau who at first refuses, then accepts. Esau offers to accompany them, but Jacob declines stating the frailty of his children and needing to proceed at a very slow pace. Jacob and his family first stay in Succoth, then proceed to settle in Shechem.
Dinah, the only girl and daughter in the family, goes out to meet the other girls of Shechem. She is seen by the prince of Shechem who forces himself on her. Shechem now is in love with Dinah and now wants her as his wife. Jacob heard what happened while his sons were out in the field working. The sons then came in and heard about the incident. Hamor, Shechem’s father, approaches Jacob to ask that his daughter Dinah marry his son. Hamor also suggests that their families intermarry and become one people. The sons insist that first Hamor’s subjects circumcise themselves. Shechem and Hamor circumcise themselves and convince the rest of their people to do the same, that Jacob’s riches can become theirs. During the third night after the mass circumcision, Simeon and Levi snuck into the town, killed all the people and took their sister, Dinah. The other brothers then went in and pillaged the town. Jacob confronted Simeon and Levi, worried that other surrounding tribes would see them as a threat and attack, but the two brothers justified their act.
Jacob and his family now proceed to Bethel, where Hashem tells him to go and set up an altar as he had earlier promised. Jacob then tells everyone to rid themselves of any pagan jewelry or idols and purify themselves. Hashem now verifies that Jacob is now Israel. Hashem also tells Israel that nations will descend from him, and he will inherit the land promised to Abraham. Rachel dies enroute giving birth to Benjamin, the last of the twelve sons. Isaac also dies and Jacob and Esau and Jacob are reunited at his funeral.
Esau and his wives and his offspring are listed. They move to a different location because the land couldn’t support both his and Jacob’s livestock.