Parshat Vayishlach

Parshat Vayishlach


Bereishit 34:13

Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor — speaking with guile because he had defiled their sister Dinah


Bava Batra 123a

Jacob said to [Rachel]: What is his method of deceit of which I need to be aware? Rachel said to him: I have a sister who is older than me, and he will not marry me off before he marries her off, even if he promises that he will do so. Jacob said to her: I am his brother, i.e., equal in deceit, and he will not be able to deceive me. … Rachel said to him: But is it permitted for the righteous to act deceitfully? Jacob answered her: Yes, in certain circumstances. As the verse states concerning God: “With the pure You show Yourself pure; and with the crooked You show Yourself subtle” (II Samuel 22:27)


Sanhedrin 97a

Concerning the lack of truth, Rava says: Initially I would say that there is no truth anywhere in the world. There was a certain one of the Sages, and Rav Tavut is his name, and some say Rav Tavyomei is his name, who was so honest that if they were to give him the entire world, he would not deviate from the truth in his statement. He said to me: One time I happened to come to a certain place, and Truth is its name, and its residents would not deviate from the truth in their statements, and no person from there would die prematurely. I married a woman from among them, and I had two sons from her. One day his wife was sitting and washing the hair on her head. Her neighbor came and knocked on the door. He thought: It is not proper conduct to tell the neighbor that his wife is bathing. He said to her: She is not here. Since he deviated from the truth his two sons died. The people residing in that place came before him and said to him: What is the meaning of this? He said to them: This was the nature of the incident, and told them what happened. They said to him: Please leave our place and do not provoke premature death upon these people.


Rabbi Aidan Steinsaltz

It is widely accepted that Jacob our patriarch represents the attribute of truth … In practice, however, throughout many stories we read of him, it seems that Jacob acts evasively, often deviously …

Jacob’s three Hebrew names – Yaakov, Yisrael, and Yeshurun — all express some element of truth. The almost inverse relationship between the name “Yeshurun” and the name “Yaakov” appears in clear contrast in a verse in Isaiah, “and the crooked (he’akov) shall be made straight (lemishor). Apparently, this transition from Yaakov to Yeshurun is integral to Jacob’s essence.

A persons’s existence is built on a system of restraints, from the falsehood of conventional social manners, to the falsehood of outer coverings of all kinds, to the gap between what one feels in his heart and what one reveals outwardly. This world innately and by necessity demands of us not to be truthful. It forces use to refrain from expressing the truth …

It may be surprising, but just as there is an evil inclination to falsehood, the desire to constantly adhere to truth can be a type of evil inclination as well, one that at times is much worse than the inclination to falsehood. … People frequently fall to this warped moral reasoning precisely because their souls are pure, and it is hard for them to come to terms with deficiency and imperfection. For such people, the usual, straightforward temptation of the evil inclination is less dangerous than the presentation of life in black and white terms … [the] inability to come to terms with … the world’s intrinsic imperfection … leading [such] a person to frustration and despair.

To a large degree, our challenge is to maintain an overarching sense of direction and purpose for the duration of life’s journey, despite the twists along the way.

when we pursue the truth as much as possible, we must endure many imperfections along the way. Only then will be able to reach the highest level of truth within the reality of this world.


Bereishit 32:25

Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn.


Bereishit 32:29

Said he, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with beings divine and human, and have prevailed.”



It shall no longer be said that the blessings came to you through supplanting and subtlety but through noble conduct and in an open manner.


Rabbi Yehudah Leib, Alter of Ger, Sefer Emet

The children of Israel merited both of these names, and they refer to the body and the soul. Every person has to set aright the body, so that the power of soul will dwell upon it. Then one is called “Israel.” … This equalizing of body to soul is called shalom.