Los Angeles was honored by the visit of Rishon L’Tzion Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef Shlitah, Chief Rabbi of Israel, during the week of Parshat Vayetze. The Rishon L’Tzion was accompanied by some prominent Rabbis of the Sephardic community, and he was accompanied by police escort to many schools and many kehilot such as Torath Emeth, Bais Yaakov of Los Angeles, etc. The Rav delivered a shiur and divrei chizuk to each organization, according to their needs. Tashbar Sephardic Yeshiva Ketana greeted him with a red carpet. In the San Fernando Valley, participating kehilot met together at one place to honor the Rav. At the Yeshiva Gedola Los Angeles (YGLA), the Rav gave a Shiur Klalli. The Rav gave chizuk to the Sephardic communities to really hold on to their Mesorah (Traditional Halachot) and follow their own ways of the Shulchan Aruch. HaGaon Rav Yosef spoke at Bait Aaron Torah Outreach Center. He spoke Divrei Halacha for more than an hour, and emphasized the ways of his father as the Halacha to follow and practice the Maran Bait Yosef. Hundreds of Rabbonim and talmudim from the yeshivah, along with patrons of the yeshivah and members of the local Jewish community, were in attendance. It was a true honor to have him for almost an entire week of non-stop overflowing Torah. Shabbat was spectacular; the Rav was at Mogen David Synagogue headed by Rabbi Yehuda Moses. Over 600 people packed into the shul to hear Rishon L’Tzion deliver the Divrei Halacha, Mussar, and Chizuk. Many Rabbonim were inspired to give more Shiurim on Halacha in their kehilot. Although the Rav gave personal blessings to the best of his ability, he constantly blessed the whole community. His presence itself was a blessing. May he be well until 120 years, and lead us to Moshiach Bekarov.
The Whole Torah
Rashi writes as follows: “I lived with Yaakov” – The word “גרתי”!has the numerical value of 613. That is to say: I (Yaakov) lived with the wicked Lavan, but I kept the 613 commandments, and I did not learn from his evil deeds.” R’ Yissachar Frand shlit’a points out that Yaakov seems to be repeating himself. Of course, if he kept all the Mitzvot in the house of Lavan, then he obviously he did not learn from the evil ways of Lavan. That would have been a violation of the Torah!
He quotes his Rebbi, R’ Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman zt”l who explains that Yaakov is teaching us a great principle. One can keep all Taryag (613) Mitzvot in the Torah, and still live a Lavan lifestyle! One can do Mitzvot – but not follow the ways of the Torah. It is possible to eat kosher – but think treif(Not Kosher)! To dress modestly – but live excessively! One can make a wedding where all the guests are dressed with tzniut (Modesty)- but the lavish and immodest display of excessive Gashmiut ( “indulgence in earthly pleasures” )is exposed. One can pray in a shul where the mechitza is high – but the volume of the discussion during praying and kriat haTorah is even higher!
We must be extremely grateful for the explosion of “Jewishness and Torah study in our circles, but we must also look deeper into our lifestyles. Is our Torah observance achieving the goal of coming closer to Hashem, or not? Are we keeping all the laws but exposing our flaws as we strive towards raising the bar in our materialism rather than raising ourselves up in true avodat Hashem? Yaakov Avinu is telling us that he kept the entire Torah – but he also did not learn and copy the evil ways of Lavan, a man whose goal in life was to climb the ladder of material success and fulfill all his base desires. We, too, must look at ourselves and make sure that our lives are not a contradiction! We must be observant – but we must be deeply religious too! (Torah Tavlin)
Bob: “Holy schmoozes, I just fell off a 30 ft ladder.”
Jim: “No way man, are you okay?
Bob: “Yeah, luckily I was just on the first step.”
1st/2nd/3rd Aliyot: It’s the year 2205 and Yaakov is 97 years old. He sends messengers to greet Esav and is informed that Esav is approaching, prepared to do battle. He applies a three pronged strategy in preparation for the confrontation: a) Tefilah – prayer b)diplomacy c) war. Prior to the actual confrontation, Yaakov bests Esav in a spiritual battle with Esav’s Angel, and earns the name “Yisroel.” Due to the wound he sustained in the battle, G-d prohibits Yaakov and his family from eating the Gid Hanashe – the sciatic nerve. Yaakov and Esav meet after 34 years.
4th Aliya: Yaakov and Esav agree to separate peacefully. Esav returns to his kingdom of Seir, and Yaakov settles outside of the city of Shechem.
5th Aliya: Dina is abducted and raped by Shechem the son of Chamor, and Shimon and Levi devise a strategy for successfully killing the entire male population of Shechem. According to Chazal, Shimon and Levi were 13 years old. Hashem (G-d) instructs Yaakov to move to Beth El. Rivka’s nurse Devora dies, and Hashem confirms the name Yisroel upon Yaakov.
6th/7th Aliyot: Rachel dies while giving birth to Binyamin and Yaakov buries her in Bait Lechem. Following Rachel’s death, Reuven switches the bed of Yaakov from Bilha’s tent to Leah’s tent. Although Yitzchak will live another 21 years, the Torah relates his death at the age of 180 (2228). The remainder of Vayishlach lists Esav’s descendants as well as the specific Kings of Seir who ruled prior to King Saul – the first king of Israel. (2882)