Parashat Vayishlach (And he sent) Genesis 32:4-36:43


Parashat Vayishlach (And he sent) Genesis 32:4-36:43

Haftarah: Obadiah 1-21

In this week’s Torah reading, Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, is at the forefront of a chapter. Shechem, the son of Hamor, the Hivvite, sees her and takes her (by force) and lies with her. It is most significant that the text also says that he afflicts her ויענה (See Genesis 34:2). Obviously, this act is most sinful and according to the Torah, Shechem needed to suffer the death penalty. The question was what was the proper way to administer this punishment upon Shechem? Jacob, as the patriarch of the family, had the responsibility of handling this situation.

The passage states that Hamor, Shechem’s father, went out to speak with Jacob. However, before anything takes place, one reads that Jacob’s sons arrived from the field and that they took over the entire matter. It was their idea to agree to give their sister to Shechem if all the men of the community were circumcised. This was not a proper action. It is clear that both Hamor and Shechem agreed for two reasons. First, Shechem wanted Dinah and secondly, they thought that through marriage that they would acquire the wealth of Jacob’s family. Clearly no agreement should have been proposed to them.

On the third day after all their men were indeed circumcised, when the pain was the most severe, Shimon and Levi rose up and killed them all. Jacob was not in agreement with this act because it would cause his family, the Children of Israel, not to have their word accepted by others in the future. In short, the sons lacked the wisdom that their father had acquired over the years.

Sadly today, there is a rush to move older people out of leadership positions. It would seem that in this generation there is a strong preference for youth. I know of many large congregations which install men who are very young to be elders and the primary leader of the congregation. But I read in the Scriptures that there are benefits to listening to those who are advanced in years. One of my favorite verses on this issue is Job 12:12,

With old age is wisdom and (with) the length of days is understanding.”

Why not seek the counsel of our seniors before making a decision that you may regret. I have found that seniors are a great resource and it is a delight to listen to them.

Shabbat Shalom

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