The JPS Rashi Discussion Torah Commentary

By Sarah Levy; Steven | Go to book overview

VA-YISHLAḤ

❖ Conflict Resolution
Parashat Va-yishlah opens with Jacob’s impending reunion with his brother Esau, who, twenty years later, still resents Jacob’s having stolen their father’s blessing from him. Esau approaches with a four-hundred-man army, and Jacob prepares for this ominous encounter by all available means, including dividing his camp into two.

Thinking, “If Esau comes to the one camp and attacks it,
the other camp may yet escape.” (Gen. 32:9)

Citing this verse and two others, Rashi explains what Jacob’s preparedness for his meeting with Esau entailed:

the other camp may yet escape: Against his [Esau’s] will,
for I will wage war with him. He [Jacob] prepared himself
[by doing] three things: giving a gift, praying, and [prepar-
ing] for war. Giving a gift [as v. 22 states]: “And so the gift
went on ahead.” Praying [as his prayer in v. 10 begins]: “O
God of my father Abraham.” War [as this verse says]: “the
other camp may yet escape [while the first camp is engaged
in war].” (Rashi, Gen. 32:9)

To survive the dreaded encounter with his brother, Jacob took three actions: praying, giving gifts, and preparing for war. As he had hoped, the first two acts—prayer and appeasement—turned out to be sufficient to quell Esau’s anger, and he therefore did not have to resort to war. We see from Jacob’s example that appeasement—whether it takes the form of gifts or words of reconciliation—can be a valuable tool in resolving conflicts and avoiding violence.The ability of gifts to influence the feelings (and even the behavior) of their recipients is well recognized. For example, pharmaceutical representatives are restricted in the degree of benefits they may confer on physicians because of concerns that such largesse could influence the physicians’ drug prescriptions. In the field of international relations, countries spend billions of dollars on economic and military aid in an effort to influence the behavior of recipient countries. Appeasement in the form of gifts or words may not always work, but it remains a powerful tool for managing conflict, allying interests, and bringing people closer to one another.
Questions for Discussion
1. Describe a time you reconciled with someone after a falling-out in your relationship. Did either you or the other person use appeasement (gifts or words) to help reestablish the connection?
2. What preparedness advice would you give a child who

is being bullied? What lessons in this parashah might or might not be applicable?

-24-

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The JPS Rashi Discussion Torah Commentary
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xiii
  • Introduction - Introducing Rashi xv
  • Genesis 1
  • Bere’shit 3
  • NoaḤ 6
  • Lekh Lekha 9
  • Va-Yera’ 12
  • Hayyei Sarah 15
  • Toledot 18
  • Va-Yetse’ 21
  • Va-YishlaḤ 24
  • Va-Yeshev 27
  • Mikkets 30
  • Va-Yiggash 33
  • Va-YeḤi 36
  • Exodus 39
  • Shemot 41
  • Val-‘Era’ 44
  • Bo’ 47
  • Be-ShallaḤ 50
  • Yitro 53
  • Mishpatim 56
  • Terumah 59
  • Tetsavveh 62
  • Ki Tissa’ 65
  • Va-Yak’Hel 68
  • Pekudei 71
  • Leviticus 75
  • Va-Yikra’ 77
  • Tsav 80
  • Shemini 83
  • Tazria’ 86
  • Metsora’ 90
  • ’AḤarei Mot 93
  • Kedoshim 97
  • ‘Emor 100
  • Be-Har 103
  • Be-Ḥukkotai 106
  • Numbers 111
  • Be-Midbar 113
  • Naso’ 116
  • Be-Ha’Alotekha 120
  • ShelaḤ-Lekha 123
  • KoraḤ 127
  • Ḥukkat 130
  • Balak 134
  • PinḤas 138
  • Mattot 141
  • Mase’Ei 144
  • Deuteronomy 147
  • Devarim 149
  • Va-EtḤannan 152
  • ‘Ekev 156
  • Re’Eh 160
  • Shofetim 163
  • Ki Tetse’ 167
  • Ki Tavo’ 171
  • Nits Avim/Va-Yelekh 174
  • Ha’Azinu 177
  • Ve-Zo’t Ha-Berakhah 181
  • Subject Index 185
  • Index of Sources 189
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