Erev Shabbos Kodesh Vayishlach 5777 Inspiration

I once heard someone ask someone, “what are  all these אלופים about at the end of Parashas Vayishlach? Upon hearing the question, I immediately responded, “אלופו של עולם,” a reference to HaShem, the Chief Officer of the world. I have a feeling this interpretation is on target, as the Torah is discussing the officers of Esav’s progeny who ruled before the Jewish People had a king. The commentators discuss an esoteric term called שבע מלכין קדמאין, the seven early kings, who were from what is referred to as עולם התוהו, literally defined as the World of Desolation. Without getting into the depths of this topic, it seems from the commentators that there was a struggle between the forces of Evil and the Forces of Good, and the first seven kings died, whereas the last king endured.

This year, however, I’d like to take a more simplistic approach to these אלופים, and to suggest that the word אלוף is associated with the word מילף, meaning to learn. The Medrash (Eicha Rabbah 2:13) states חכמה בגוים תאמין, believe that there is wisdom amongst the gentiles. Yet, we know that this wisdom is limited, as only the wisdom of the Torah is infinite. Esav received a limited blessing from Yitzchak, and indeed, Esav’s descendant, Ovadiah, who converted to Judaism (Sanhedrin 39b), writes (Ovadiah 1:8) הֲלוֹא בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא נְאֻם יְ-ה-וָ-ה וְהַאֲבַדְתִּי חֲכָמִים מֵאֱדוֹם וּתְבוּנָה מֵהַר עֵשָׂו, behold – on that day- the word of HaShem – I will eradicate wise men from Edom and understanding from the Mountain of Esav. Due to the limitation of Esav’s wisdom, his wisdom will be eradicated. Rashi in the beginning of Parashas Vayeishev cites an analogy to Esav’s אלופים that will be destroyed by the fire of Yaakov and the flame of Yosef.

As we approach the festival of Chanukah, when the Greeks and the Hellenists attempted to extinguish the light of Torah from the Jewish People, we are encouraged by the fact that the wisdom of Greece and Rome is limited and will not endure. The only wisdom that will endure forever is the wisdom of our Holy Torah, and HaShem should grant us the opportunities to study His Holy Torah and merit what we recite in the Shacharis Prayer, אוֹר חָדָשׁ עַל צִיּוֹן תָּאִיר, וְנִזְכֶּה כֻלָּנוּ בִּמְהֵרָה לְאוֹרוֹ, You will shine a new light upon Tziyon, and we shall all merit soon its light.

Have a WISE and ENLIGHTENING Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler

Erev Shabbos Kodesh Vayishlach 5777 Inspiration

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