Vayishlach (He Sent)
1 Corinthians 5:1-13
The Journey Continues
Ya’akov is now free of Lavan after twenty years of working for him. The time was not wasted by any means as he is returning with a growing family and the riches needed to take care of them. It appears Yah was up to the challenge of guarding Ya’akov giving him bread to eat and clothing to wear. Though Lavan is behind him there is still a matter he has to face, his brother.
Word comes to Ya’akov that Esav is heading his way with 400 of his men. Twenty years may be a long time, but Ya’akov figures those years have not softened the heart of Esav, but more than likely made it harder. The response Ya’akov has to the meeting is one we need to consider, not only for him, but for ourselves. In Genesis 32:21 the Complete Jewish Bible says Ya’akov sought to “appease” Esav. The Hebrew word here is kaphar. It is only used four times in Torah, two of those times in Genesis. The word means “To cover or coat with pitch.” Yes, you guessed it, the other time the word is used is in Genesis when Noah covers the Ark with pitch. Where do we go with this one? There are two directions.
First, we can take the standard commentary and say Ya’akov was trying to compromise with Esav and protect his own hide at the possible expense of part of his family being killed. Let’s take a different look.
When Noah covered the Ark with pitch what was he doing? Was he not seeking to protect that which was inside? Could this same thought not be applied to Ya’akov? Is it that Ya’akov thought he could not win the battle over Esav so he set the whole plan in motion to by time, protect his family for the moment and live to fight another day? You be the judge.
One more thought before moving on. Either way we look at this, in the end the conflict between the two brothers was not resolved, but rather pushed on to a different time, a different generation. Was this the plan and timing of Yah? I don’t know. What I do know is that one day the fight between the two seeds will have to be brought to a head and decided. When is that time? Again, I do not know. If it is to be in our lifetime, the question we must ask ourselves is, “Are we willing to no longer kaphar, but fight, no matter our personal cost?”
After the meeting, Ya’akov again breathes a sigh of relief and continues his journey to Sh’khem. Wait, stop the bus, he goes where? Sh’khem. What about the oath he took to return to Beit-El? Maybe it was a stop on the way, but it would be a stop of disaster. It is in Sh’khem that Dinah is found with the “local girls.” Why was this allowed? Who forgot to protect their daughter, their sister? Dinah is raped and the family begins a downward spiral bringing tension within that I would argue is yet to be repaired. A sad note to me is the question of the boys which was asked to their father in Genesis 34:31. This question was never answered. You consider that one for a while.
What is the lesson to us from the disaster of Sh’khem? There are many. On top of the list to me is concerning our oaths or promises we make to HaShem. Ya’akov stood at a mountaintop experience of seeing angels, ladders and Yah Himself. He speaks words of promise and then twenty years later, does he think Yah has forgotten those words? Did he consider Sh’khem a place to rest for a bit before he fulfilled his promise? It is my belief that as soon as he figured out he had survived the meeting with Esav he should have asked a question, WWAD. What Would Abraham DO? His grandfather, who when asked to sacrifice his Yitzchak, got up early and made a beeline to the mountain. If he had followed that example maybe the eventual wedding of Dinah would have been a happier event.
But who am I to point fingers at Ya’akov? Who are you to do the same? Truth is we have all made promises we at best, delay in keeping. Maybe the lesson of this Torah portion and the uncovering of Ya’akov’s life is for our benefit to teach us to not be quick to offer a vow or promise. When we do make a vow, let us be quick to fulfill those words at the earliest possible opportunity. I think that is something someone else spoke about somewhere, like maybe Yeshua in the Gospels! (Click to Source)