Torah Portion

Vayishlach

וישלח

Genesis 32:4-36:43
Hosea 11:7–12:12
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Jacob's Journey to Mahanaim and Penuel in J and E

Jacob's Journey to Mahanaim and Penuel in J and E

The merging of two different accounts of Jacob’s return home is reflected in the double etymologies for Mahanaim and Penuel. Why do both sources have Jacob pass through these two cities one after the other? The answer lies in geography.

Dr.
David Ben-Gad HaCohen
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Who Is the Victim in the Dinah Story?

Who Is the Victim in the Dinah Story?

We can not imagine anyone but Dinah as the victim, but does the Torah? Do the Rabbis? Understanding the story of Dinah and its reception in historical context can help us reflect on the role of women in ancient Israel and the meaning of sexual violence in a patriarchal society.

Dr.
Alison L. Joseph
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The Debasement of Dinah

The Debasement of Dinah

Historical-critical scholarship, combined with philology demonstrates that we have been reading (and critiquing!) “The Rape of Dinah” story based on anachronistic assumptions.[1]

Dr.
Shawna Dolansky
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"Esau Hates Jacob": But Is Antisemitism a Halakha?

"Esau Hates Jacob": But Is Antisemitism a Halakha?

Esau kisses Jacob upon the latter’s return from Haran. Famously, in the Torah scroll, the word kiss is dotted, implying that his kiss may have been more (or less) than just a kiss. Nevertheless, perhaps in this case, “a kiss is but a kiss.”

Prof. Rabbi
Marty Lockshin
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Jacob Is Renamed Israel (Twice): Why Does the Name Jacob Remain?

Jacob Is Renamed Israel (Twice): Why Does the Name Jacob Remain?

The different usages of the names Jacob and Israel reflect a geographic divide between the northern and southern kingdoms’ stance toward this patriarch.

Dr.
Tzemah Yoreh
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The Missed Opportunity for Intermarriage and Conversion in the Story of Dinah

The Missed Opportunity for Intermarriage and Conversion in the Story of Dinah

An intertextual reading of the Dinah story in Genesis 34, together with Deuteronomy 7 and Ezra-Nehemiah, highlights how it polemicizes against marriage with non-Israelites, even those willing to take on Israelite practices. Some rabbinic counter-readings of the text, however, express a more positive notion of incorporating converts to Judaism into the community. 

Naomi Graetz
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Why Is Esau's Kiss Dotted?

Why Is Esau's Kiss Dotted?

Esau’s kiss to Jacob is written with scribal dots over the word וַׄיִּׄשָּׁׄקֵ֑ׄהׄוּׄ, “and he kissed him.” Traditional commentators suggest this hints to Esau’s feelings or state of mind. Critical scholarship, however, points to something much more prosaic, a question of syntax.

Prof.
Albert l. Baumgarten
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A 12th Century Derasha on Parashat Vayishlach: Reconstructing the Speaker's Notes

A 12th Century Derasha on Parashat Vayishlach: Reconstructing the Speaker's Notes

“God Seeks the Pursued”: A Midrashic text from the genizah compares Esau’s Pursuit of Jacob with Saul’s pursuit of David using a panoply of biblical verses and mishnaic halakhot.

Dr.
Moshe Lavee
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Dr.
Oded Rosenblum
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Dr.
Shana Strauch-Schick
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Arami Oved Avi: The Demonization of Laban

Arami Oved Avi: The Demonization of Laban

The rabbis translate the phrase ארמי אובד אבי in Deuteronomy 26:5 “an Aramean tried to destroy my father” and understand it as a reference to Laban, who they claim was worse than Pharaoh. But whereas the biblical Laban can be read either sympathetically or unsympathetically, he is hardly a Pharaoh-like villain, so why demonize him?

Naomi Graetz
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Genesis

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