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Summary of Parshat  "Vayishlach"

by the editors    
of Torah from Dixie    

Parshat Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43) begins with Jacob and his family returning from the house of Laban to the land of Israel, only to find Esau heading towards them with 400 men, apparently ready for battle. After preparing his family for war and praying to Hashem for help, Jacob attempts to appease his brother by sending him a lavish gift of many animals. After his family crosses the river to await their meeting with Esau, Jacob is left alone for an all-night "confrontation" with an angel disguised as a man, and although Jacob is victorious, he is left limping from a hip dislocation. Rejoining his family, Jacob encounters Esau, who accepts him with a new-found brotherly love and insists on escorting Jacob to his destination. Jacob states that he does not want to inconvenience Esau, and they part ways. Yet another crisis arises as Jacob's daughter Dinah is abducted and raped by Shechem, the prince of a town of the same name. Jacob's sons, outraged at the humiliation caused to their sister, trick the town's residents into circumcising themselves under the preconception that they would then be allowed to intermarry with Jacob's family. Simeon and Levi (two of the brothers) then decimate the entire city and save Dinah.

Jacob returns to Beit El where Hashem had originally appeared to him in the dream of the ladder (mentioned in last week's portion), and he builds an altar there. Hashem blesses Jacob and gives him the additional name, Israel. Soon after, Rachel dies while giving birth to Benjamin, Jacob's twelfth and Rachel's second son, and Jacob buries her on the way to Beit Lechem. Finally, Jacob returns home and is reunited with his father Isaac. The Torah relates that Isaac died at the age of 180, and the Torah portion concludes with a lengthy genealogy of Esau's family.


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