Our Rabbis tell us, Ma’aseh avot siman lebanim- What happens to the fathers is a sign of what will happen to the future generations. This applies to the soul, the time, the place. Parshat Vayishlach is an even lesson for us on placating or going in advance, armed and ready. Ya’akov prepares gifts, taking the edge off of things and cooling the air. His brother, Esav says “I have plenty”(meaning I have a fortune but I want more). Ya’akov says, “I have all that I need”. He bears gifts. The story line of the parsha moves along from a situation of negotiations through diplomatic relations to the family of Yisrael taking matters into hand when Dina was forced upon in the land of Shechem, where the brit hurts. They came to a radical decision premeditating to wipe out the enemy. Ya’akov is distressed in this situation too but another tragic incident overrides all the previous tribulations. The love of his life dies and Rachel is left at the crossroads of Bethlehem. There, chazal tell us she waits for her children to return from their long sleep in the exile to their rightful borders, waiting to be reunited with Yisrael.
Every turn of events takes us to a new turn in the road of our Patriarchs, on a different vertebrae on the spinal cord of the backbone of the land of Israel thus laying the groundwork through trials, as we have already seen with Abraham. The first stones of our legacy were placed and oil was poured down as a brit for time immemorial. Tears too. As things turn out, we find ourselves in a similar situation today. We placate. We negotiate. But there is also a time to protect the honor of our sister, our mother. The message of hope and steadfastness, of permanent faith is what Ya’akov/Yisrael passes on to us. He is the shaliach. (Emissary) These are the messengers he is sending to us about the gift of Eretz Yisrael, then, now and forever!
Shabbat Shalom, Leah Goldsmith