Yaakov survives both his encounter with Esav's army and his mysterious nightlong struggle with "Esav's angel", the spirit of evil beneath the civilized tip of the iceberg; He's now earned a new name- Yisroel, he who can master both human and divine realms (cf. Hosea 12:3f). After his daughter, Dina, is abducted and raped, her brothers recover her by destroying Shchem; Yaakov condemns their violent over-reaction, then finally settles down in Israel. The Haftora is Hosea 11:7- 12:2, God's disappointment with His still beloved folk.

IS YAAKOV FLESH & BLOOD?: With God's help, Yaakov & Co. escaped after 20 years of exile in Lavan's gilded cage, his refuge from Esav's sword; Yaakov was eager to return to Israel and Yitzchak. MESSENGERS OF THE LORD, special Israeli angels (Rashi- 32:2), came to greet and honor him; he only dreamt of them when he left Israel. But Abarbanel understands them to be simple merchants, who told him that they have enountered Esav; humans often appear at the right moment as "God's messengers"! Yaakov still lived in dread of Esav- God's promises to protect him might have lapsed, due either to Yaakov's lack of merit, or to Esav's merits (Rashi- 32:11, Shab. 32, Gen. Rab. 76:2).

Abarbanel rejects this idea too- Yaakov has just been repromised that God will be with him (31:3). Tho Yaakov's soul indeed has 100% faith, his normal body must fear pending annihilation. Great contemporary rabbis, such as A. Kutler (in ON LEARNING TORAH) and J.B. Soloveichik, differ as to whether our illustrious ancestors were subject to human emotions and frailties; most great commentators felt that they were. But Jerusalem Chief Rav Kulitz views even Rashi as an angel, not "flesh and blood"!


Yaakov's afraid Esav will kill him upon his return, or v.v. He prepares for both appeasement and war, and prays (cf. today). While waiting for the encounter, he's wounded in a nighttime battle with a Divine figure, the spirit of Esavian civilization. At dawn, Yaakov turns the tables and refuses to release his attacker until he blesses Yaakov! The Divine Being predicts Yaakov's name will become Israel- master of both Divine and human realms (Rivka's ideal). Hirsch explains: Israel limps thru the dark night of history, almost dead, until its return to the Land at Messianic dawn. Then wicked Esavian nations won't just stop killing Jews- they must also recognize Israel as their source of Divinity and Blessing.

CH. 33: Esav kisses Yaakov when they meet, after Yaakov showers honor and gifts on him; Yaakov refuses his offers of interfaith collaboration and Esav returns to Seir (the Vatican?), leaving Israel to Israel. Yaakov continued peacefully to Shchem, where he bought a field and settled down.

CH. 34: Prince Shchem captured and loved Dina, and wouldn't let her go. Her brothers tricked the locals into circumcision; Shimon and Levi wiped them out afterward, taking Dina back. Yaakov warned them of retaliation for their zealotry, but nothing happened. Yet he curses their anger upon his deathbed (49:5-6).

CH. 35: God told Yaakov to continue on to Bet El; he purified and de-idolized his camp and built an altar there, fulfilling his pledge. God now calls him Israel, again promising him the land and great impact on the world. Rachel died giving birth to Yaakov's first sabra, Benyamin; Yaakov buried her in Bethlehem, allegedly on the #160 route to Efrat. Per Rav M. Gafni, Rachel's Tomb isn't, as David's on Mt. Zion. Reuven didn't respect his Dad's decision to now make her servant, Bilha, #1 wife, instead of Mother Leah. Yitzchak dies at 180 and we close with a list of Esav's powerful, rich, and insignificant descendants.

THE HAFTORAH is Prophet Ovadia's one chapter; a descendant of Esav, he predicts the eventual destruction of his house and mountain- SAVIORS WILL RISE UPON MT. ZION TO JUDGE MT. ESAV AND KINGSHIP WILL BE GOD'S. Esav must be divested of his "mountain", his claim that his philosophy and culture transcend the human condition, that God now addresses him, not Israel. Once he'll accept Yaakov as his teacher, he and the world will be OK. So Yaakov relinquishes present exercise of Yitzchak's blessings of great wealth and dominion, for future Messianic use by his descendants. SAVIORS are great teachers who will "judge"- save Esavian Western Civilization (Esav's Mt.) from its great errors in judgement; they'll teach them God's Revelation to the Jews, establishing His sovereignty- AND KINGSHIP WILL BE GOD'S (M. Hirsch).

Some say Ovadia, an Edomite convert, was not a true prophet; God gave him only this one prophetic episode, his reward for saving 100 prophets from extinction by Jezebel. He fulfills the prophecy that from Esav's tree will come the handle of the axe which fells it! Elisha's miraculous oil strike for Ovadia's widow saves his orphans from sale into slavery for his debts; he had borrowed money from Ahav's son to support the hidden prophets.

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