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Competition Sparks Excellence

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According to the Slonimer Rebbe, a major issue in last week’s Torah reading introduces the major issue of this week’s parsha. In Vayishlach, the mysterious ‘man’ and God both inform Ya’akov that ‘your name shall no longer be Ya’akov, but Yisrael (Breishit 32:29 & 35:10).’ However, we continue to hear the name Ya’akov throughout Tanach. How can this be? The Slonimer in his Netivot Shalom explains that the name Ya’akov represents the fight to resist physical temptations, and is the continual war against Esav. The name Yisrael signifies the effort to maintain our faith and belief. That is the struggle against Lavan and all he represents. So, the name Ya’akov will only be retired when the war against physical sins is won.

Great, but how does that introduce our parsha? The Slonimer concludes his explanation by informing us that the war against physical sin is fought by the Mashiach ben Yosef, while the war against false beliefs is fought by Mashiach ben David, who is really is Yehuda. Our parsha introduces the core reality of Jewish history: the eternal competition between Yosef and Yehuda.

Parshat Vayishlach ended with the TOLDOT or genealogy of Esav. So, it’s no surprise that Vayeshev begins with the........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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