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Shabbat Parashat Vayishlach 5782

Parashat Hashavua: Camels and Gamals For Better and for Worse

Harav Yosef Carmel

Through hard work, honesty, and Divine Assistance, Yaakov left Charan with great riches. In the last parasha (Bereishit 30:43), it lists his riches: flock, servants, maid servants, camels, and donkeys. From these, we find this week that Yaakov sent many animals as a present to his brother, Eisav, including camels (Bereishit 32:15-16). However, when Yaakov describes to Eisav his material good fortune, he mentions everything but camels (ibid. 6). Where did they disappear to?

Two of last century’s great kohanim – Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk and Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook – provided approaches. Rav Meir Simcha proposed that Yaakov left out camels to hint that his approach was different from Eisav’s. Eisav, the son of two saintly parents, Yitzchak and Rivka, had redeeming qualities – he stayed in Eretz Yisrael for many years, where he tithed his earnings and honored his parents admirably. However, Chazal tell us that these good deeds were accompanied by the most serious sins, including murder and adultery (see Rashi, Bereishit 25:25-29). In that way, the camel represented his qualities, in that it has one of the kosher signs (chews its cud) and yet is non-kosher because of the other one (lack of split hooves). Yaakov, in not associating himself with camels, hinted he was tam (complete) unlike Eisav – his actions did not create any signs of impurity.

Rav Kook, in the section of his siddur that deals with Purim, shows many words/word sets made from the letters of the word megilla. One of the several is gamal kah (Hashem has granted), with the first word also spelling camel. The historical struggle against Amalek (Eisav’s descendant) has an interesting connection to camels. David successfully fought Amalek and the only escapees were “400 youngsters who rode on camels” (Shmuel I, 30:17). Chazal (Midrash Rabba 78:15) connect this fact to the apparent disappearance of Eisav’s 400 men, the original number of the militia Eisav took with him to “greet” Yaakov. However, when Eisav actually encountered Yaakov, the narrative does not mention them, prompting the midrash to posit that one by one, they backed out of the encounter. It goes on to say that these people were rewarded in the form of the 400 Amalekites who escaped David’s battle. This shows us that Hashem grants reward (gomel) to those whose actions warrant it. The gemalim were absent, says Rav Kook, on account of the reward (gemul) of the positive action (gemul tov) that those who did not harm Yaakov’s family received.

This week’s haftara also repeats this concept of gemul for gemul – in the negative. Eisav’s descendants were informed that they will experience harsh gemul for the cruel actions (gemul) they did to Bnei Yisrael (Ovadia 1:10-15). The navi said that their gemul would return on their heads, an idea highlighted by the use of the root four times in one set of p’sukim in Yoel (4:4,7). In this case it was also a fulfillment of the prophecy to Rivka, that the older one would be subservient to the younger one.

May we see the fulfillment of the prophecy of Ovadia (1:21) about the recognition of the sons of Yishmael and Eisav at the time of our liberation. The blessings Yaakov received will show that there is an appropriate gemul for both the positive and negative actions of individuals and nations.

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Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
Yisrael ben Rivka

Rivka Reena bat Gruna Natna

Arye Yitzchak ben Geula Miriam

Neta bat Malka

Meira bat Esther

Together with all cholei Yisrael

Hemdat Yamim is dedicated

to the memory of:

Those who fell in wars

for our homeland


Rav Shlomo Merzel z”l
Iyar 10, 5771

Reuven & Chaya Leah Aberman z"l
Tishrei 9
,5776 / Tishrei 20, 5782


Mr. Shmuel & Esther Shemesh z"l

Sivan 17 / Av 20


Mr. Moshe Wasserzug z"l

Tishrei 20 ,5781


R' Eliyahu Carmel z"l

Rav Carmel's father

Iyar 8 ,5776


Mrs. Sara Wengrowsky

bat RMoshe Zev a”h.

Tamuz 10 ,5774


Rav Asher & Susan Wasserteil z"l
Kislev 9 / Elul 5780

RMeir ben

Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld z"l


Mrs. Sara Brachfeld z"l

Tevet 16 ,5780


RYaakov ben Abraham & Aisha


Chana bat Yaish & Simcha

Sebbag, z"l


Rav Yisrael Rozen z"l
Cheshvan 13, 5778


Rav Benzion Grossman z"l
Tamuz 23, 5777


R' Abraham Klein z"l

Iyar 18 ,5779


Mrs. Gita Klein z"l

Av 4


Rav Moshe Zvi (Milton) Polin z"l
Tammuz 19, 5778


R' Yitzchak Zev Tarshansky z"l

Adar 28, 5781

R'  Yona Avraham ben Shmuel Storfer z”l

19 Kislev


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