by Hilda R. Glazer
This parashah is full of family and of life-changing events: Jacob becomes the last individual to receive a personal covenant with God. Meeting God face-to-face is a life-changing event. Jacob’s name is changed to Israel. Jacob and Esau meet and reunite. At the end, Rachel dies in childbirth. The midwife attempts to comfort Rachel with the statement that while she is dying, her healthy son lives. Another significant event is story of the rape of Dinah and the subsequent destruction of Shechem’s city by Dinah’s brothers.
This portion considers what it means to be a family. How do brothers who fought for most of their lives reconcile and reconnect? What is the relationship between them? What is the relationship between the men of Jacob’s family and the community in which they live? We can apply this to our lives by looking at the relationships between siblings and think about how we can enhance or improve those relationships. Do you talk to or email your siblings frequently or do long periods go by without contact? What is behind the way that you treat each other? In the greater scheme of things, what is important? The ties of the families throughout the parashah are strong no matter what the obstacles.