Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4 – 36:43)

Jacob and his household have finally, officially ended their stay with Laban.  Jacob now expects to go home and settle now peacefully with his family, the way his father Isaac did with… oh right.  Recognizing the need for reconciliation, he sends messengers (angels?) to Esau.  Esau, however, is coming with 400 armed men. Not a good sign.  Jacob pulls out all the stops in preparation:  He divides his camp in two as a defensive stratagem. He prays for deliverance.  He sends a series of substantial gifts to Esau to placate him. And he tries to protect his family (unfortunately, the degree of protection for each wife/child(ren) group is obviously directly proportional to Jacob’s love for them).  The night before the meeting, Jacob is alone and, understandably, doesn’t sleep.  He wrestles with some being (a man? an angel? a guardian angel of Esau? himself?) until dawn and, as the price for letting the being go, is told he will be given the name Israel “for you have striven with beings divine and human, and have prevailed.” (32:29).

At last, Esau and Jacob meet.  And Esau is quite amicable, though the rabbis are skeptical (whence the little dots over the Hebrew for “and he kissed him”), as they equate Esau=Edom=> => => Rome= oppressors.  Jacob uses all of the skills of flattery and diplomacy he has honed since their last meeting  (bowing 7 times is a bit much, I think).  As Jacob presses his gifts on Esau, Esau says (33:9), “yesh li rav” (I have much).  Jacob responds (32:11) with “yesh li chol” (I have all).  In a nutshell, there they are: Esau, the restless hunter and soldier, not yet content, and Jacob, who has everything he wants.  For the moment.  And they go their separate ways.  

Unfortunately, finally dealing with Esau and Laban does not leave Jacob at peace as he slowly makes his way home (it takes about 2 years).  His daughter Dina is raped by a Hivvite prince, who then wants to marry her, so her brothers Shimon and Levi persuade the men of the town to circumcise themselves to join with Jacob et al. and then massacre the incapacitated men and plunder the town.  Then his beloved Rachel dies giving birth to Benjamin, and she is buried on the road to Bethlehem.  And Jacob’s eldest, Reuven, sleeps with his wife/concubine Bilhah.  Finally, they reach Beth El, where Jacob has everyone get rid of their leftover gods and purify themselves as he builds an altar to the Lord of the stone he had used as a pillow and then anointed, as he’d vowed so long ago.  Now is when he is actually given the name Israel by the Lord, though in our readings we see that “Jacob” will still be used, at least for everyday situations.  

Finally, Jacob is home in Hebron.  His mother is presumed to have died while he was away.  When Isaac dies, he is buried by both Jacob and Esau.  The portion ends with a list of Esau’s descendents, and he leaves the story.  Jacob, however, remains through almost the end of Genesis.  But he will no longer be center stage, ceding that role to Rachel’s older son, Joseph, as we’ll read next week.

Shabbat shalom,

Wrestling for Money

One night, Tim was walking home when, all of a sudden, a thief jumped on him. Tim and the thief began to wrestle. They rolled about on the ground, and Tim put up a tremendous fight. However, the thief managed to get the better of him and pinned him to the ground. The thief then went through Tim’s pockets and searched him. All the thief could find on Tim was 25 cents. The thief was so surprised at this that he asked Tim why he had bothered to fight so hard for a measly 25 cents. “What that all you wanted? I thought you were after the $500 I’ve got in my shoe!” Tim replied.


Deep sleep – joke

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson went camping. They pitched their tent under the stars and go to sleep. Sometime in the middle of the night Holmes wakes Watson up.

“Watson, look up at the stars, and tell me what you deduce.”
Watson says, “I see millions of stars and even if a few of those have planets, it’s quite likely there are some planets like Earth, and if there are a few planets like Earth out there, there might also be life.”

Holmes replied: “Watson, you idiot, somebody stole our tent!”


Esar’s Comic Dictionary  by Evan Esar – 2005 – 320 pages

Page 78:

diplomacy.  1. Lying in state.  2. The art of letting someone else have your way.  3. The non-publicity of duplicity.  4.  the patriotic art of lying for one’s country.  5. The art of convincing a man he’s a liar without actually telling him so.  6. The art of getting something as though you were giving it.  7.  It’s easy on the brain but hell on the feet.
        business diplomacy.  The art of never saying no but always taking the matter under advisement.
        secret diplomacy.  The best way to end it is to admit women to the diplomatic corps.
diplomat.  1. One who pours banana oil on troubled waters.  2. An international liar, with an elastic conscience and a rubber neck.  3. A man who always remembers a woman’s birthday, but never her age.  4. One who never heard that old joke before.  5. When a diplomat says yes, he means perhaps; when he says perhaps, he means no; and when he says no, he’s no diplomat.


Luke’s wife bought a new line of expensive cosmetics guaranteed to make her look years younger. After a lengthy sitting before the mirror applying the “miracle” products she asked, “Darling, honestly what age would you say I am?”

Looking over her carefully, Luke replied, “Judging from your skin, twenty; your hair, eighteen; and your figure, twenty-five.”

“Oh, you flatterer!” she gushed.

“Hey, wait a minute!” Luke interrupted. “I haven’t added them up yet.”
When my daughter was about ten, she was grumbling at the dinner table about how some of her classmates were “sucking up” to their teacher, and remarked how I didn’t have to deal with that at work (as a grown-up).  After I stopped laughing and choking on my food,  I said that, “sucking up” very much exists in the workplace, and in fact there was this woman who’d come into Human Resources who was doing very well because she was the master at sucking up to the managers.  Then I came back to earth and we talked about school.

Not long after, Roz had lunch at work with me.  My co-workers and I were saying how impressed we were with a woman whom we’d heard give a talk recently, and how rapidly she was rising through the ranks.   At which Roz piped up innocently, “Did she suck up?”  I tried to cover my tracks by saying, “Uh, I think she’s just very good at her work.”  [By the way, neither of my children has any desire whatsoever for a career in a corporation.  Wonder why.]


Surely, I can’t look that old! [v. lightly edited]

Have you ever been guilty of looking at others your own age and thinking, ‘Surely, I can’t look that old!’   Well…. You’ll love this one.

While sitting in the waiting room for my first appointment with a new dentist, I noticed his DDS diploma, which bore his full name.

Suddenly, I remembered a tall, handsome, dark-haired boy with the same name had been in my high school class some 40-odd years ago.  Could he be the same guy that I had a secret crush on, way back then?  Upon seeing him, however, I quickly discarded any such thought.

This balding, gray-haired man with the deeply lined face was way too old to have been my classmate.

After he examined my teeth, I asked him if he had attended Morgan Park high school.

“Yes.  Yes, I did.  I’m a Mustang,” he beamed with pride.

“When did you graduate?” I asked.

He answered, “In 1959.  Why do you ask?”

“You were in my class!”  I exclaimed.”What did you teach?”

He looked at me closely.  Then, that ugly, old, bald, wrinkled, gray-haired, decrepit so-and-so asked,

 “What did you teach?”

Shared by Judi Larsen Szyszka WHS 1959


Top Reasons Why You May NOT Want To Go To Your 25th Class Reunion [selections.  Actually, I rather enjoyed mine.]

22) The one that got away…

21) The one that didn’t…

16) They’re still talking about the Prom night party–and–you still wish you knew what they were saying

13) Maroon andGold— someone’s going to wear them — need we say more?

10) You still have some nasty unpaid library fines.

9) Remember that dorky guy with coke-bottle glasses who sat up front that you made fun of? …He owns Microsoft

8) Its being catered by the gals from the cafeteria…and they’ve volunteered YOU to go get the food in one of those BIG plastic orange crates.

7) You’re petrified by the promise of a mandatory Algebra exam between dinner and dessert.

6) Your ‘first one’ might be there…all of them…

5) Your Senior Prom date is STILL looking for you…and you can’t bring weapons.

3) You don’t like most of the people you remember, and you damn sure don’t wanna see a bunch of over-weight, balding, sagging classmates dancing under a disco ball.

1) You don’t wanna have someone come up to you with a recent college dropout and say “Honey, why don’t you spend the next 25 years with your real father!?!”

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