Parshas Vayishlach

Parsha Story: Parshas Vayishlach (for 5769)

Posted on December 12, 2008. Filed under: A Parsha Story, a Rabbi Bolton Story, a Rabbi Tuvia Bolton Story, Jewish Customs, Parshas Vayeitzei, Parshas Vayetze, Parshas Vayishlach, Parshat Hashavua, Parshat Hashavuah, Parshat Vayishlach, Rabbi Bolton Story, Rabbi Tuvia Bolton Story, Story by Rabbi Bolton, The Parshah Story, The Truth, Torah, True, Truth, Weekly Parsha, Weekly Parshah, Weekly sedra, Weekly Sedrah | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


A Parsha Story by:

Rabbi Tuvia Bolton of OhrTmimim.Org/torah

On this week’s Parsha:

Vayishlach – 5769

We’d like to apologize that it arrived on the site,

a little late, just a little before Shabbos.

This week we read of Yaakov’s (Jacob’s) battle with an angel that resulted in his name being changed to Yisroel (Israel).

But this does not seem to make sense. How can a person fight, no less win, against an angel? And after he won why didn’t he get a bit more than just a name change? Couldn’t he have just changed it without going through so much trouble?

Also, this coming week many Jews will celebrate the Chassidic holiday “19th of Kislev” when the originator of the Chabad Chassidic movement, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, was miraculously let out of prison where he had been falsely incarcerated for treason under punishment of death.

Is there a connection?

To understand this here is a story.

Some 350 years ago Judaism seemed to be in its death throes. Almost two thousand years of wandering, suffering, dashed hopes and unanswered prayers began to take its toll and a lot of Jews simply wanted ‘out’.

It was in these desperate times that a holy man by the name of Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem (a.k.a. Baal Shem Tov) began teaching new ideas called Chassidut. Chassidut was designed to make Jews happy by teaching them how good and close G-d and His Torah are to all of us.

It caught on like wildfire and in just a few years half of Russian and Polish Judaism became his followers (‘Chassidim’).

But success also brings enemies. The elite Torah scholars of the time rose in protest! They felt threatened by this new movement and devoted themselves heart and soul to oppose and destroy it in any way possible.

They called themselves ‘Misnagdim’ (opposers) and their war was especially directed against Rebbe Shneur Zalman who founded the branch of Chassidim ‘Chabad’.

Rebbe Shneur Zalman wrote a book called “Tanya” that explained such ‘forbidden’ ideas as the ‘Oneness of G-d, the uniqueness of the Jews, the G-dliness of the Torah and its Commandments and why this physical world is ‘higher’ than heaven.

They branded the Chassidim as maniacs, heretics and dangerous enemies of mankind who deserved excommunication, corporal punishment and worse.

The Misnagdim went so far as to slander the Rebbe and have him arrested and almost executed by the Russian Government for treason (his miraculous exoneration became the Chabad Holiday of Yud Tes Kislev which we mentioned previously). Unexplainably, ultra-orthodox Jews who had been examples of brotherly love and objective thinking became consumed with hatred.

The Jews of Lithuania were fervent Misnagdim and the city of Globak was one of the most fervent in Lithuania. There lived a very wealthy Torah Scholar by the name of Rabbi Shraga who, besides being a leading figure in the town and in the movement, was a strong willed person with unbounded hatred for the Chassidim.

So it was no wonder that when his brother, Zelig, went ‘over’ to ‘visit’ the Chassidim in the city of Liozhne (where the Chabad Chassidim were) and came back several months later with a very positive report.. It wasn’t taken well.

Zelig was a simple, easygoing fellow that was more philosophical than practical. He really believed that the worst that could happen when he came back with praises of the Chassidim was that he would be ignored.

But it wasn’t so.

When he returned to Globak and began telling people what he thought about the Chassidim he was escorted into a side room of the synagogue by several strong young men and given such a severe lashing that a few weeks later he passed away and was buried in the worst area of the cemetery!

But no one in the town, including his brother, felt any regret. Exactly the opposite! In their minds Zelig was a deviant; a sick criminal and a threat to Judaism. They were certain that their actions and quick thinking saved thousands of families from being lured into apostasy and eternal damnation; Zelig’s violent death would discourage anyone from making the same horrible ‘mistake’ in the future.

But in fact it did the opposite.

Shraga had a 19 year old son by the name of Mordechi. A few months after this incident Mordechi disappeared and left a note to his parents telling them that he had decided to exile himself to a place of Torah (Avot 4:14) (A common practice in those days; people would leave the ‘comforts’ of home, family and friends and wander to distant places to learn Torah) and they shouldn’t worry.

But, in fact his uncle Zelig’s death awakened something in him more than just curiosity; the desire to be a Chassid.

Two years later in the middle of the night, Shraga’s other son (who we will call Yehuda) heard a knock at the window and turned to see Mordechi standing outside.

He let him in, they hugged for a long time but when Mordechi told him where he had been Yehuda jumped back as though bitten by a snake. He looked at his brother in horror but the horror faded when Mordechi began to explain some of the ideas he heard there; how every Jew is holy, G-d loves all mankind, creates the universe constantly, the Torah and its commandments connect to the Creator.

Mordechi saw that Yehuda wasn’t going to turn him in and he pulled out a small page and gave it to him.

Upon was written in Hebrew.

“If this person comes into your camp, don’t kill him.”

Mordechi explained, “Take this. It’s from the Rebbe. Before I left there I went in to him for a blessing because I was afraid that they would kill me like they did uncle Zelig and he gave me this. It seems that it’s working. At least you didn’t kill me.”

Yehuda had to think fast; memories of uncle Zelig’s death danced in his mind. If anyone discovered them it might mean big trouble. He told Mordechi to go to the synagogue adjoining their house and wait inside until he thought of something.

Mordechi did as he was told. It was almost midnight and the room was abandoned, only him and G-d. He stood for a while then opened his prayer book to say the evening prayer and before he knew it he was in a different world. He was singing to the Creator. Words of longing, trust, hope and love were in his mind and on his lips. He was swaying back and forth, singing a slow Chassidic song with his eyes closed in devotion.

The sweet singing from the synagogue next to his house woke Shraga from his sleep.. He sat up, listened for a few minutes washed his hands, got dressed and followed the sound like a baby to its mother’s voice. He had to find what it was.

In moments he was peeking into the window of the Synagogue but the light was too dim. Suddenly his son Yehuda ‘happened’ to walk by pretended to also listen and finally told him that he recognized the voice. It was that of his brother, Mordechi.

Shraga waited for him to finish praying, ran into the room and shook his son’s had warmly. But when Mordechi revealed that he had been by the Chassidim his father just stood in wide-eyed disbelief and then moved a few steps back so as not to come too close to a suspected heretic.

But he listened to what his son had to say.

It seems the letter of the Rebbe was working. Shraga gave his son a room in his house so he could do what he wanted and didn’t tell anyone what had happened. His opposition was wearing away but he was a long way from being a Chassid.

Until the argument.

It wasn’t so clear exactly what they argued about but one thing led to another and Shraga’s wife demanded a divorce. Shraga, not one to back down, countered that nothing would please him more and announced that they would go to Vilna, the seat of great Talmudic scholarship, and officially separate.

But his wife refused. She wanted a divorce but the only one she would accept to do the ceremony was none other than Rebbe Shneur Zalman the head of the Chassidim!! Where she got this idea from was also not clear but she was adamant!

At first Shraga refused. He explained passionately, tried to appeal to reason, to loyalty, to mercy but for naught.

He was trapped!

Two weeks later they were standing before the door of the Rebbe, the door opened and they entered. Immediately when Shraga looked into the Rebbe’s eyes he knew that this was a true Torah genius and when the Rebbe began speaking he was overwhelmed with his holiness.

The Rebbe heard their claims and complaints and within just moments made them see that that there was absolutely no substance to their argument what so ever. In fact he left them wondering if perhaps the only reason they fought was to bring them to the Rebbe.

Shraga and his wife left the room feeling that it was their wedding day when suddenly Shraga remembered his brother Zelig and he began to cry.

He went back to the Rebbe’s door and knocked. A voice from inside the room told him to enter. When he did and closed the door behind him the Rebbe said.

“Nu! You are a Talmudic Scholar. When your brother, Zelig, came back from here, did you have any indication or support from the Talmud that it was permissible to beat him? To kill him?”

Shraga was crying and shaking his head ‘no’.

“Nu” Continued the Rebbe, “You are a Talmudic Scholar. Can you find in the Talmud how to get forgiveness for such a murder?” Shraga was really crying now.

“Well,” Replied the Rebbe, “I can.”

“It says in the Tractate Baba Basra (3b) that King Hordus killed the wise men of Israel because he thought they were his enemies. But when realized he was wrong he was filled with remorse and asked Rabbi Baba ben Buta what he could do to be forgiven. The Rabbi answered: ‘You killed Torah scholars and extinguished the light of the world. Therefore you must rekindle the light of the world.’ Hordus took the hint and began to beautify and decorate the Holy Temple in Jerusalem until it was the most beautiful building in the world. So too in our case” Concluded the Rebbe. “You extinguished a light so you must kindle a light. You killed a Chassid, so build a synagogue in Globak for the Chassidic community and see to it that there is a flourishing community.”

Rabbi Shraga became an ardent Chassid of the Rebbe and followed his advice. He built what was for several hundred years, until the destruction of WWII, the most magnificent Synagogue in Globak and perhaps in all Lithuania. Built for the Chassidic community that grew there due to his generosity.

This answers our questions.

The ‘angel’ of Asav is really the power behind all the pleasures and pressures of this world both inside and outside of us.

While Jacob is the ability of man to wrestle with, defeat and even transform these urges and pressures to good.

Just as, in our story, the Rebbe transformed the world outside him and Shraga his internal world.

And this is the connection to Yud Tes Kislev, the holiday of Rebbe Shneur Zalman’s redemption from imprisonment and death.

This is the holiday that began the true spreading of Chassidut in preparation to bring the Messiah (Moshiach). As the Baal Shem Tov was promised; that when your teachings (Chassidut) are spread out and learned by everyone; then the Messiah will bring total redemption; the power of Yaakov will transform the world (Asav) into blessing and joy.

This is what is implied by the name change; Yaakov implies wrestling, while Yisroel implies the days of Moshiach when we will defeat and even transform the Creation so it reveals the Creator.

It all depends on us (with the help of G-d) to do all we can, even one more good deed, word or even thought can bring…

Moshiach NOW!

Copyright © 1999-2008 Rabbi Tuvia Bolton of OhrTmimim.Org/torah

All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction or copying of this material shall occur without prior permission.

We recommend that you visit them for more info…

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

*** We WANT Moshiach, Now!!! ***

By the way, You, too, can help hasten the coming of Moshiach, by doing ONE more Mitzvah. ***

*** We WANT Moshiach, Now!!! ***

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Parsha Story: Parshas Vayishlach

Posted on December 11, 2008. Filed under: A Parsha Story, a Rabbi Bolton Story, a Rabbi Tuvia Bolton Story, Jewish Customs, Parshas Vayeitzei, Parshas Vayetze, Parshas Vayishlach, Parshat Hashavua, Parshat Hashavuah, Parshat Vayishlach, Rabbi Bolton Story, Rabbi Tuvia Bolton Story, Story by Rabbi Bolton, The Parshah Story, The Truth, Torah, True, Truth, Weekly Parsha, Weekly Parshah, Weekly sedra, Weekly Sedrah | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


A Parsha Story by:

Rabbi Tuvia Bolton of OhrTmimim.Org/torah

On this week’s Parsha:


We’d like to apologize:

Due to lateness in the week and NO update on the site, we are using last year’s Story

This week we read a strange episode in the history of Judaism; G-d changes the Patriarch Jacob’s name, “Your name will no longer be called Yaakov but Yisroel will be your name” (35:10)

And it wasn’t the first time it happened. Earlier (17:5) G-d changed Avram’s name to Abraham. But there is seemingly a big difference between them:

After Avraham got his new name he is never referred to again by the old one. But after Yaakov’s name change the Torah continues calling him Yaakov (in fact just a few sentences later (35:14) it does it!) and calls him BOTH Yaakov and Yisroel.

At first glance this makes no sense. First, why did G-d have to change names? Was it really so important?

Second, why is Yaakov called by TWO names?

And finally, and most important, what does this mean to us now?

To explain this here is a story (HaGeula #105)

Rabbi Yaakov Levkefker, today the Chabad representative in Elizabeth, New Jersey has an interesting story to tell.

Some twenty five years ago he was a new resident in the U.S.A. and wanted to apply for a ‘Green Card’; a permit to live and work in that country.

But because it was a complicated process and this Card was of the utmost importance to him he decided to get a good lawyer to guide and represent him.

So he chose an expert lawyer by the name of Mr. Ring who had been helping Chabad Chassidim in such matters for years.

And just a few days later Mr. Ring called the Rabbi and told him that he had good news; he used his influence and got an early hearing and things looked promising but they had to move quickly. They would be going to court in a week’s time.

But to Mr. Ring’s surprise Rabbi Levkefker wasn’t pleased. The date fell out within the first nine days of the Jewish month of AV which were bad luck days for the Jews especially in a non-Jewish court. They’d have to push off the meeting for a week or two.

Mr. Ring was disappointed and angry all his work was down the drain! He called Rabbi Levkefker to come to his office. He was going to tell him face to face to find another lawyer.

But when the Rabbi entered suddenly Mr. Ring remembered something that happened long ago and he changed his mind.

It was over thirty years ago. A young religious Jew of about eighteen years old came into his office, introduced himself as Rabbi Label Raskin (who later would become the Rebbe’s emissary in Morocco) and explained that the Lubavitcher Rebbe had recommended him.

Mr. Ring was very flattered. At that time he was just a few years into his practice and was surprised that a person of the fame and stature of the Rebbe even knew his name.

But then, when he got some of the details of the case he lost his enthusiasm.

It seems that this young Rabbi Raskin was already in trouble with the immigration bureau and had received a notice of deportation for many good reasons.

But the main cause of his rejection was that on his application for citizenship he described himself as nothing less than ‘The Manager of all Chabad Activities in Europe’!

Mr. Ring explained to him how ridiculous it was for him to write such a fabrication and that the only way they might possibly change their minds is if he tells the truth and says something believable. Perhaps write that that he had been the principle of a school and didn’t understand the question.

But Raskin refused and even gave two unforgettable reasons: First, he insisted that he was telling the truth and really had been in charge of all Europe. And second, the Rebbe had sent him not to hear opinions or ideas why it wouldn’t work but because he would get the Green card. So any pessimism was totally out of place.

Ring was so impressed to hear such clear and forceful words coming from such a young man and amazed to see the total devotion he demonstrated to the Rebbe that he took the case. But as things progressed he began to regret it. It became obvious that the case was surely doomed to failure.

So he made a new condition that he would only continue working if Raskin would pay after every stage of the process and not at the end as was the usual practice.

“Anyway” Mr. Ring continued the story to Rabbi Levkefker, “after a few weeks I got a date for a hearing to re-consider the case and told Rabbi Raskin the good news. But do you know what he said? Just like you, he said he couldn’t go.

“He said that the evening of the hearing fell out on a day that the Lubavitcher Rebbe would be speaking in public, which he couldn’t miss and he wanted me to go there without him.

“I thought he was nuts. At first he’s desperate to get the citizenship and then he doesn’t seem to care at all. There was no doubt in my mind that when the judges saw that he couldn’t even make it to his own trial they would for sure throw the case out of court and evict him from the U.S.A.”

“But do you know what happened? Against my better judgment and certain of failure I went to the trial without him and I got a few surprises.

“First of all the judges didn’t seem to care or even notice that my client wasn’t there. Rather they just asked me why I thought that their decision to reject Raskin’s request was a mistake. At first I was confused but then suddenly from nowhere an idea popped into my mind. In fact it was like the words just came out of my mouth without me thinking at all.

“I said, ‘Your honors. We here in the United States are accustomed to young men at the age of eighteen that are given life on a silver platter; they are supported by their parents, watch television and are truly incapable of standing under the pressure of directing and organizing international projects.

“‘But my client was born and raised in Communist Russia where life is pure hell! I’m certain that your honors can imagine the fortitude it must have taken for a young orthodox Jewish boy to succeed under the pressures and prosecutions of that oppressive government. Why, from the age of kindergarten he was probably already making life and death decisions about himself and those around him.

“‘It is precisely dealing with these obstacles that gave him the experience and the maturity necessary to direct the Chabad activities in Europe after he left Russia. So it is no wonder that it was hard for you to believe his claim at first. But I can assure you that my client was not exaggerating when he described his achievements.

“The judges were silent for a few seconds, then turned to one another for consultation and finally decided unanimously that the appeal was accepted and Raskin would get his papers.

“But the best part was when I returned and gave Raskin the good news. We were both very happy and I said half-jokingly, ‘Well Mr. Raskin, I have to admit that you have a very clever Rebbe if he knew to pick probably the only lawyer in America that could reverse a hopeless case like yours into a victory.”

“Raskin looked at me as though I was a child and said, in a tone of certainty I’ve never heard before or since then.

“‘Tell me Mr. Ring, do you really think that what you said to those judges came from your talents? Why, you know yourself that it isn’t so! It was the Rebbe who made sure that those right words would come out of your mouth that is why the Rebbe chose you!’

“The idea was ridiculous, unheard of, completely not normal but I somehow knew he was right. It was a miracle that did it. That was thirty years ago and his words are fresh in my mind as today.”

Mr. Ring took Rabbi Levkefker’s case and, needless to say, it too succeeded.

This answers our questions.

A name of a person indicates both how he (or she) affects the world and also (according to Kaballah) how that person’s soul is attached to his body. (That is why an unconscious person may be awaked by calling his name.)

So changing the name means changes the person both inside and out.

When Abraham’s name was changed it brought him from being removed and distant from the world (Av Ram) to being the spiritual ‘father’ of all mankind (17:5) which this is the purpose of the Jews: Namely to bring the entire world to worship only the Creator according to the Torah.

So he was never again called Avram.

And the other forefathers brought this purpose more and more to fruition. Especially : Yaakov-Yisroel.

‘Yaakov’ implies correcting the world from by overcoming obstacles and nature (especially one’s own human nature) (Gen. 27:36) something like what Mr. Ring thought had happened at first.

While Yisroel means revealing the blessing of G-d in the world in a miraculous way something like what really happened to Mr. Ring; the words just ‘came to him’ and he won the case.

And we need both names; i.e. both types of service of G-d:

Like Yaakov we need to use all our talents and all the resources in the world to do the Creator’s will; do it all ourselves.

But like Yisroel we must realize that the results of our efforts are really not from us; they are miraculous blessings of G-d; and success is assured!

And it is only through the combination of these two approaches to life that we can transform the world into a joyous, meaningful, blessed place fulfill all the promises given to the forefathers and bring the complete redemption

Moshiach NOW!

Copyright © 1999-2008 Rabbi Tuvia Bolton of OhrTmimim.Org/torah

All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction or copying of this material shall occur without prior permission.

We recommend that you visit them for more info…

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

*** We WANT Moshiach, Now!!! ***

By the way, You, too, can help hasten the coming of Moshiach, by doing ONE more Mitzvah. ***

*** We WANT Moshiach, Now!!! ***

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

The Parshah in a Nutshell: Parshat Vayishlach

Posted on December 11, 2008. Filed under: A Parsha Story, Jewish Customs, Parshas Vayishlach, Parshat Hashavua, Parshat Hashavuah, Parshat Vayishlach, The Parsha in a Nutshell, The Parshah in a Nutshell, The Truth, Torah, True, Truth, Weekly Parsha, Weekly Parshah, Weekly sedra, Weekly Sedrah | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


The Parshah in a Nutshell

(A Summary of the Parsha Story)

Brought to you by:

On this week’s Parsha:


Genesis 32:4-36:43

The Parshah in a Nutshell


Genesis 32:4-36:43

Jacob returns to the Holy Land after a 20-year stay in Charan, and sends angel-emissaries to Esau in hope of a reconciliation, but his messengers report that his brother is on the warpath with 400 armed men. Jacob prepares for war, prays, and sends Esau a large gift (consisting of hundreds of heads of sheep and cattle) to appease him.

That night, Jacob ferries his family and possessions across the Yabbok River; he, however, remains behind and encounters the angel that embodies the spirit of Esau, with whom he wrestles until daybreak. Jacob suffers a dislocated hip but vanquishes the supernal creature, who bestows on him the name Israel, which means “He who prevails over the Divine.”

Jacob and Esau meet, embrace and kiss, but part ways. Jacob purchases a plot of land near Shechem, whose crown prince — also called Shechem — abducts and rapes Jacob’s daughter Dinah. Dinah‘s brothers Simon and Levi avenge the deed by killing all male inhabitants of the city after rendering them vulnerable by convincing them to circumcise themselves.

Jacob journeys on. 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. Jacob arrives in Hebron, to his father Isaac, who later dies at age 180 (Rebecca has passed away before Jacob’s arrival).

Our parshah concludes with a detailed account of Esau’s wives, children and grandchildren, and the family histories of the people of Se’ir among whom Esau settled.

*** Above portions were copied from ***

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*** We WANT Moshiach, Now!!! ***

By the way, You, too, can help hasten the coming of Moshiach, by doing ONE more Mitzvah. ***

*** We WANT Moshiach, Now!!! ***

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