Yakov Wrestling with Angel Marc Chagall



Yaakov carefully prepares to meet Esau. He sends messengers ahead hoping to cultivate favor, saying,

Master Esau, your humble servant Yaakov says: I have been staying with Lavan, and have delayed my return until now. I have acquired cattle, donkeys’, sheep, slave, slave girls, and am only now sending word to tell my lord, to gain favor in your eyes.

Braysheet 32:5-6 adapted from Living Torah, compiled and translated by R Aryeh Kaplan

When the messengers return, they tell Yaakov that Esau is also heading toward Yaakov with 400 men.

Yaakov‘s fear and distress amplify. He decides to divide his family tribe into two camps. Yaakov prays asking The Source of Life to keep them all safe.

Next, Yaakov digs deep into the family treasury, availing abundant lavish gifts as tribute to his brother, sequentially – one after the other.

He sends his family across the Maavar Yabbok – Maavar Channel. Yaakov cultivates family healing by wrestling with an angel through the night. He is deeply impacted by this angel, both physically and spiritually. First, this angel gives Yaakov a new name, Yisrael, acknowledging his enlightened state and ability to stay the course effectively. Second, Yaakov walked away limping because his sciatic nerve was injured during the wrestling.


This is a wonderful reconciliation in which Yaakov makes peace with his brother, Esau, who had sworn to kill him. Wouldn’t be nice if we all could make peace with such family members?


The tribe moves to the town called Sh’khem. Since she was new to area, Dinah went out to meet some of the local girls. The chief of the town’s son, called Sh’khem, saw her. Oy, he wanted her. First, Sh’khem seduced Dinah, then he slept with her, and finally he over powered her. Sh’khem was smitten by Dinah. He wanted to marry her.

His father, Hamor, tried to persuade the family to let Sh’khem, marry Dinah. He was willing to pay any bride price or do anything to remedy the situation.

Jacob’s sons brought up the issue of circumcision. They were emphatic that it was a disgrace to the family for an uncircumcised man to be with their sister. Hamor and Sh’khem agreed to be circumcised along with every man in their community. This way, they said, the communities could inter-marry freely.

Next, we find the adult men in Sh’khem bedridden and in agony recovering from circumcision. This was the opportunity Shimon and Levi were waiting for. It was their intention from the start.

The two brothers murdered each of the men in town. The men were weak and could not fight back. Yaakov was very unhappy about this.


Rahel went into labor with Benyamin on the road to Efrat. The labor was very difficult and sadly, Rahel does not pull through. She is buried there and her grave remains there to this day.


Yitzhak‘s twin sons, Yaakov and Esau, bury him together peacefully.


adapted from Meta-Parshiyot, R David Wolfe-Blank zt”l


Yisrael and Yaakov Consciousness

The Holy Ari teaches that through encounter with the angel, Yaakov was able to access expansive consciousness. The name Yisrael acknowledges a state of expanded consciousness, mokhin d’gadlut. The name, Yaakov, points to more diminutive consciousness mokhin d’katnut.

Sciatic Nerve and Kashrut

The sciatic nerve of any animal, even a kosher one, is not kosher to this day, in honor of Yaakov‘s injury.


According to midrash, Dinah became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter, Asnet, who was not fully welcomed in the family tent. As a result, Dinah eventually left home and found her way down to Mitzrayim – Egypt. She was adopted there by a family named Potipher. Eventually, she became Yoseph’s wife.

adapted from Meta-Parshiyot Rabbi David Wolfe-Blank zt”l

Kings of Edom – Kabbalah Vort

The Kings of Edom who “ruled and died, and ruled and die” (Braysheet 36:31-39) represents the Sh’vayrat haKaylim breaking of the vessels. As the Ein Sof – Infinite Light flooded a series of would be containers (an early version of the S’firot), each was in turn broken and scattered the light towards Earth. This light remains combined with chards from the container that obfuscate the light. According to Lurianic Kabbalah humanity’s task on Earth is to hunt down all the chards – everywhere and anywhere they may be found – and release the divine light within them from captivity. Like the Blues Brothers, we are all on a mission for God.

adapted from Meta-Parshiyot Rabbi David Wolfe-Blank zt”l

This Parshah is HESED IN G’VURAH in the S’firah Cycle

This is the eighth Parshah of the Torah and with it begins a new cycle of seven. The previous cycle starting with Simhat Torah was one of infinite unfolding in a no holds barred landscape. Now, the second cycle appears amidst more limitations, as societies have crystalized. This means structures and patterns are now established.

This Parshah’s subject matter is harsh. The confrontations and dangerous territory covered in this week’s readings reflect the nature of G’vurah and the initiation of the second cycle of seven.

Hesed and G’vurah

If Hesed is the expansive prima matter entering our Space Time Continuum, then, G’vurah gives the Hesed power and direction. G’vurah‘s job is to modulate, unbounded Hesed into productive bits in support of sustainability, harmony, and balance. Too much Hesed, like too much water or even love wil destroy. G’vurah‘s modulation is required for balance and harmony.

G’vurah suggests strength, might, order, discipline, and/or setting a boundary condition – defining what may and may not cross. The shadow side of G’vurah includes domination, intimidation, bullying, and overbearing use of power. This is the major source of negativity. Unbalanced extreme G’vurah clouds Presence and dries out all things good.

When G’vurah takes an agenda of its own it stops being a part of the S’firotic team and blessings are diverted. G’vurah, out of balance, is like a cancer. It grows to sustain itself and does not consider its host’s health and wellbeing.

Hesed in G’vurah in VaYishlah

In this Parshah, Yaakov is dealing with the potential of powerful Esau bringing harm to him and his family. Yaakov confronted possible death, violence, and destruction in a successful, humane, and transformative way. He effectively stacks the deck in favor of success and manifests grace where there seemed to be none through prayer, thoughtful planning, and action. Yaakov‘s process models strategic action.

adapted from Meta-Parshiyot Rabbi David Wolfe-Blank zt”l



Torah with starts with Braysheet, the initial the Act of Creation. Grace in Grace is compacted into a few days unlike every other Torah portion. This compact presence resonates like the big bang. Grand potency is expressed in a few days Hesed in Hesed.


Next, reading is the story Noah and The great Flood that destroyed the new, yet unruly creation. G’vurah in Hesed.


Now, Avraham Avinu is on the scene, carrying his message of the Love and One God, a unifying aspect beneath all of creation. This is Tiferet in Hesed, Balance in love – the Torah of love has found balance and is active.


It is relevant that Vayerah holds the trials of the banishment Hagar and Ishmael and the binding of Isaac. These are read on day 1 and 2 on Rosh Hashanah and The Binding of Isaac is part of the daily morning prayer ritual. This is Netzah in Hesed, Perseverance in Love – these particular stories about Avraham are sustained in Jewish consciousness through these means.


The name Hayaii Sarah, resonates the Hod Sarah, the priestess brought into the world. In the portion Avraham’s servant, Eliezer according to Midrash, is sent to find a bride for Yitzhak. He asks Avraham‘s G!D (Elokai Avraham) for a very specific sign that he is on track. The sequence of the Divine sign is repeated three more times, for a total of four. These reverberations are resonant to Hod pausing on herself.


The name, Toldot means generations. It plants the next generation step that will Avraham Avinu‘s Torah forward. Yesod relates to lineage. Hesed relates to the specific lineage of Avraham – the Torah of Love – moving forward through Yaakov. In summation, this parshah tells what was needed to set a plan for the desired result to fall into place.


In VaYezte, the first seeds of the 12 tribes of Israel come into being as Yaakov’s children are born. A new sovereign generation with new realities. The initiation of the 12 tribes plants the seeds for what is to come. Sh’khinah in Hesed.

Tmimah Audrey ickovits

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