Rabbi Howard Cohen for Jewish Reconstructionist Communities
Reconciliation and Change
As always, it is helpful to read the weekly Torah portion to understand what the rabbis wished to comment on through the haftorah selection. Not surprising, rich and complex Torah portions evoke many responses. Evidence of this is reflected in the fact that, like this week, more than one tradition has emerged for which reading to use.
In Parshat Vayishlah four significant events occur. Esau encounters Yaacov for the first time since they bitterly parted ways years earlier. The text indicates that for, at least Yaacov, there was much concern about this meeting. Yaacov wrestles with an angel in the middle of the night. As a result of this divine encounter his name was changed to Israel and he was wounded in the thigh. Seemingly unrelated to the flow of events, Israel's daughter from Leah daughter, Dinah, has an experience with Shechem, the son of Hamor, the chief of that country. Her interaction with Hamor, usually described as a rape, agitates her brothers into committing a deviously violent revengeful response. Finally, the deaths of Rachel and Isaac are mentioned.
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