> Weekly Torah Portion > Shabbat Shalom > Shabbat Shalom Weekly

Vayishlach 5763

Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  Hanukah is coming soon - the first night is Friday, November 29th (be sure to light before sunset!). It's a wonderful family holiday. After we light the candles, we sing Maoz Tzur, eat jelly donuts, tell stories, have quizzes about Hanukah - all in the light of the Hanukah candles. Memories are made up of a collection of precious moments. Hanukah can provide you with many wonderful memories!


There are two ways which our enemies have historically sought to destroy us. The first is by physical annihilation; the most recent attempt being the Holocaust. The second is through cultural assimilation. Purim is the annual celebration of our physical survival. Hanukah is the annual celebration of our spiritual survival over the many who would have liked to destroy us through cultural assimilation.

In 167 BCE the Syrian-Greek emperor, Antiochus, set out to destroy Judaism by imposing a ban on three Mitzvot: The Shabbat, The Sanctifying of the New Month (establishing the first day of the month by testimony of witnesses who saw the new moon) and Brit Mila (entering the Covenant of Abraham through Torah-ordained circumcision). The Shabbat signifies that God is the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe and that His Torah is the blueprint of creation, meaning and values. Sanctifying the New Month determines the day of the Jewish holidays. Without it there would be chaos. For example, if Succot is the 15th of Tishrei, the day it occurs depends upon which day is declared the first of Tishrei. Brit Mila is a sign of our special covenant with the Almighty. All three maintain our cultural integrity and were thus threats to the Greek culture.

Matityahu and his 5 sons, known as the Maccabees, started a revolt and three years later succeeded in evicting the oppressors. The victory was a miracle - on the scale of Israel defeating the combined super-powers of today. Having regained control of the Temple in Jerusalem, they wanted to immediately rededicate it. They needed ritually pure olive oil to re-light the Menorah in the Temple. Only a single cruse of oil was found; enough to burn for just one day. However, they needed oil for eight days until new ritually pure olive oil could be produced. A miracle occurred and the oil burned for eight days.

Therefore, we light Hanukah candles (or better yet, lamps with olive oil) for eight days. One the first day, two the second and so forth. The first candle is placed to the far right of the Menorah with each additional night's candle being placed to the immediate left. One says three blessings the first night (two blessings each subsequent night) and then lights the candles, starting with the furthermost candle to the left. The Menorah should have all candles in a straight line and at the same height. Ashkenazi tradition has each person of the household lighting his own Menorah. Sefardi tradition has just one menorah lit per family. The blessings can be found on the back of the Hanukah candle box or in a Siddur, prayer book. The candles may be lit inside the home. It is preferable to light where passersby in the street can see them - to publicize the miracle of Hanukah. In Israel, people light outside in special glass boxes built for a Menorah or little glasses with olive oil and wicks.

The tradition to eat Latkes, potato pancakes, is in memory of the miracle of the oil (latkes are fried in oil). In Israel, the tradition is to eat Sufganiot, deep-fried jelly donuts. The traditional game of Hanukah uses a Dreidel, a four-sided top with the Hebrew letters Nun, Gimmel, Hey, Shin (the first letters of "Nes Gadol Haya Sham - A Great Miracle Happened There." In Israel, the last letter is a Pay - for "here.") In times of persecution when learning Torah was forbidden, Jews would learn anyway. When the soldiers would investigate, they would pull out the Dreidel and pretend that they were gambling. The rules for playing Dreidel: Nun -- no one wins; Gimmel - spinner takes the pot; Hey - spinner get half the pot; Shin/Pay - spinner matches the pot!


Hundreds of families in Israel are struggling to survive. This group gives them coupons redeemable only for food. They arrange with the supermarket to give an extra 10% on every dollar you give them. I know they are legitimate and I give them!

Send your tax-deductible contribution to:

Keren Y&Y
805 Roosevelt Ct. #1-S
Far Rockaway, NY 11691

or donate via their website

Make it a meaningful Hanukah!

Torah Portion of the Week

On the trip back to Canaan, Jacob meets his brother Esau; Jacob wrestles with the angel. Then they arrive in Shechem; Shechem, the son of Chamor the Hivite, (heir to the town of Shechem) rapes Jacob's daughter, Dina; Dina's brothers, Shimon and Levy, massacre the men of Shechem; Rebecca (Rivka) dies; God gives Jacob an additional name, "Israel," and reaffirms the blessing to Avraham that the land of Canaan (Israel) will be given to his descendants; Rachel dies after giving birth to Benjamin (Binyomin); Jacob's 12 sons are listed; Isaac dies; Esau's lineage is recorded as is that of Seir the Horite; and lastly ... the succession of the Kings of Edom is chronicled.


Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Esau learns that Jacob is returning to the Land of Israel; he sets out with an army to kill Jacob. Jacob prays to the Almighty, "Save me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau" (Genesis 32:12). Jacob has only one brother. Why did the Torah specify "from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau"?

The Torah is telling us by the repetition that when a brother turns into an enemy, he becomes a much more dangerous enemy than a stranger.

Tosafot, a commentary on the Talmud, adds that just as a one-time beloved friend is the worst enemy, so too when two enemies become friends it is the strongest of friendships.

When you have difficulties in getting along with someone, don't think that just because at present you do not like each other it must last. On the contrary, if you will be able to overcome the animosity between you, the former negative feelings can be transformed into extremely positive feelings. We have seen countries which have fought bitter wars against each other finally make peace and become close allies. This should serve as a lesson for us in making peace with individuals who have quarreled with us in the past.

Rabbi Meir Yechiel of Ostrovtzah saved the Jews of his city from a pogrom during the First World War. The Austro-German army left the city and the Russian army entered. In other places, the Jews suffered greatly when the Russian soldiers came in. Rav Meir Yechiel called a meeting of the notables of his city and told them about his plan to greet the Russian soldiers as liberators. They would give out food and cigarettes to the soldiers and develop a friendly relationship with them. This is what they did and the soldiers acted in a very friendly manner towards the Jewish population of the city.


"Let the property of your fellow man be as precious to you as your own."
    - Rabbi Yose

CANDLE LIGHTING - November 22:
(or go to

Jerusalem  4:01
Guatemala 5:11  Hong Kong 5:20  Honolulu 5:29
J'Burg 6:20  London 3:44  Los Angeles 4:26
Melbourne 6:54  Miami 5:12  Moscow 3:57

New York 4:15  Singapore  6:35


To an overweight person,
food is not the problem ...
it is the solution.

Mazal Tov on the Marriage of
Larry & Dee Heyman
May you enjoy much happiness!


Leave a Reply

1 2 3 2,914

🤯 ⇐ That's you after reading our weekly email.

Our weekly email is chock full of interesting and relevant insights into Jewish history, food, philosophy, current events, holidays and more.
Sign up now. Impress your friends with how much you know.
We will never share your email address and you can unsubscribe in a single click.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram