Parshat Vayishlach

Vayishlach tells the story of the meeting, after an estrangement that lasted twenty-two years, between Jacob and Esau. Hearing that his brother is coming to meet him with a force of four hundred men, Jacob is “greatly afraid and distressed.” He divides his camp into two, sends gifts to Esau, and prays. That night he wrestles with a mysterious stranger, in an episode that ends with his being given a new name, Israel, meaning “one who struggles with God and men and prevails.” The next day the two brothers meet, not in violence but in peace. They embrace and then go their separate ways. The parsha ends with the death of Isaac and a genealogy of the descendants of Esau.

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