Thursday, November 22, 2007

DVAR TORAH S2: Vayishlach (Reality bites)

To my international readers, I apologize in advance to the esotericity of the comparison I'm about to make.

Estranged and uncomfortable family reunions, busy and annoying travel days, praying nothing is going to go horribly wrong, wrestling through the night, trying to impress/intimidate/appease relatives, a rush for gifts, your father pissed off at you for making him look bad/sleeping with his concubine/slaughtering the newly-circumcised citizens of Shechem for abducting and raping your sister/getting your tongue pierced, telling your sister she looks like a prostitute, and doubtful historical veracity; this can only mean two things: Vayishlach and Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow happens to be the all-American holiday of Thanksgiving, a holiday where we, today, celebrate reunion with family and, more likely, mere toleration of one another. Could we have hoped for anything more from Jacob and Esau?

Sure Esau tried to bite Jacob instead of kissing him as I mentioned in last year's Dvar Torah on this Parasha. When I delivered my senior sermon in high school on this very portion seven years ago (damn...), my research into Midrash also indicated that Esau was the one whom Jacob wrestled for the blessing.

Family fighting is synonymous with the holiday of Thanksgiving. One of my favorite comedians Lewis Black once ranted long ago on the Daily Show (way back in the Craig Kilborn era) about this holiday, its effect on diets and the fact that instead of killing your family you eat their weight in food. Thank God Esau was able to hold back, even though he did try and nibble on his twin brother a little bit...

In other news, An anagram I just discovered: Neilah = Inhale. I'm sure a great Dvar Torah can be made on the topic, but now is not the time...

May your Thanksgiving be peaceful and may you more than tolerate your family.

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