Archive for the 'Vayishlach' Category

Anti-Assimilation

December 23rd, 2005 by Yaakov Ellis

While going through Parashat Vayishlach there was one theme that stood out to me: the efforts of non-Jews to cause Jews to assimilate and the hard stance of the Jewish people against these efforts:

  • Yaakov fights the “man” (Bereishit 32:25-31). Chazal in midrashim (Bereishit Rabba cited by Rashi) say that this was the sar of Eisav. Thus this battle between Yaakov and the ish represented the overall struggle between the stength of Eisav, of worldliness, against those of Yaakov – of Torah and spirituality.
  • Yaakov meets Eisav. Instead of attacking Yaakov, Esav offers a partnership:

    ויאמר, נסעה ונלכה, ואלכה לנגדך

    And (Esav) said: let us travel and go, and I will go along with you

    Bereishit 33:12

    Esav offers to Yaakov that they (and by extension their children and descendents) would share a common future, going through the journeys of this world together. In the next passuk Yaakov declines.

  • Yaakov comes to the city of Shechem. After his Dinah is raped, he is offered by Chamor the father of Sh’chem that the people of Shechem and the children of Yaakov should intermerry and live together. Yaakov’s reaction is definitely in the negative (Shimon and Levi took this a step farther by killing all of the men in the city)

Common theme: the efforts of the non-Jews to assimilate the Jewish people into their midst, and the response of the Jews: no thank you! Something to keep in mind for those in Chutz La’aretz as we approach the climax of the “holiday season”.