web analytics
April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Parshat Vayishlach


Share Button

       On July 7, 1919 the United States Army sent a caravan of 72 vehicles on a cross- country trip. The purpose of this “mission” was to highlight the poor condition of the country’s roads and demonstrate the need to improve them. Additionally, the army wanted to gain publicity for itself since it was quickly being disbanded and forgotten in the aftermath of World War One. Since there was no Route 80 back then, it took the caravan 62 days, at an average of 58 miles a day, to complete the journey. Although in certain instances the soldiers were able to avail themselves of paved roads, most of the time they were forced to use dirt and mud paths.
 
         One of the young officers who participated in this mission was none other than Dwight D. Eisenhower. Despite the fact that he enjoyed himself tremendously on the trip, he nonetheless was astonished at the poor condition of the United States road system. He firmly believed that the roads “had to be upgraded for both vacationers yearning to visit different parts of the country as well as for the military intending to defend it.” (Eisenhower by John Wukovits, Palgrave Macmillan New York, NY 2006, p.32.)
 
         Many years would go by before Eisenhower could do anything about the roads. But riding on his popularity as the general who led America to victory in the Second World War, Eisenhower was elected president in 1952. Besides his experience as a participant in the 1919 caravan, he now had the experience of World War II. During the battles against the Nazis (y”s) Eisenhower saw how the Germans had used the autobahn to their immense advantage. Having such a sophisticated highway system enabled the Germans to quickly transport soldiers from one battle to another. Eisenhower felt that this capability in no small measure allowed the Germans to prolong the defense of their country.
 
         In 1956 Eisenhower proposed the Federal Aid Highway Act. This act authorized the funds to build “what became the interstate highway system, the elaborate network of concrete that connected all sectors of the nation, sparked increased travel, and spurred the growth of restaurants and motels catering to vacationers” (p.176). Additionally, it provided the necessary mobility for the military to defend the country.
 
         Eisenhower recognized that, for the United States to develop and be able to defend itself, its infrastructure had to be improved. Only by enabling easy travel between the different parts of the country would the various regions be able to effectively complement one another and realize the full potential of this nation.
 
         In this week’s parshah we see that Yaakov had already, thousands of years ago, understood the importance of improving a country’s infrastructure. After surviving his encounter with Esav, Yaakov arrived safely at the city of Shechem. Upon reaching the city, the Torah describes (33:18): “Va’yechan Yaakov et pnei ha’ir” -and Yaakov camped on the outskirts of the city. The Gemara in Shabbat (33b) explains that the word vayechan has an additional definition besides camped. According to the Gemara, vayechan also means that he graced the city. In line with this definition, several rabbis offered different suggestions as to how Yaakov graced Shechem.
 
         Rav claimed that Yaakov minted coins for them to use as a common currency of exchange. Shmuel claimed that he organized markets for them to sell and purchase their merchandise. And Rav Yochanan claimed that he built bathhouses for them.
 
         According to the opinions of these rabbis there are two questions. The first is − why did Yaakov do anything for Shechem? The second is − why specifically, these things? On a superficial level Yaakov did these things in order to ingratiate himself to his neighbors and to demonstrate his appreciation to them for allowing him to be their neighbor. On a deeper level, Yaakov, by doing these things, was actually demonstrating his proprietary rights over Israel. Only a person who has an ownership stake would bother with such activities.
 
         In line with this reasoning, we can understand why Yaakov chose to do these things for Shechem. Realizing that his children would ultimately inherit the land, he wanted it to be built up and developed as much as possible by the time of the conquest. Economic development can only take place if people can interact with one another easily. Therefore, by establishing an accepted currency of exchange and a market economy, Yaakov ensured that people would interact with and help one another. With Yaakov’s improvements, a broad and deep economy would flourish, and the land of Israel would develop.
 
         But as we know from history, when people from different areas interact, they transfer diseases from one to the other. Thus, the building of bathhouses was necessary to maintain proper hygiene to prevent people from getting sick.
 
         All leaders must understand the importance of addressing infrastructure issues if they want their organizations to develop and succeed. While there isn’t too much glory involved with such issues, if the infrastructure is neglected, the organization will ultimately collapse.
 
         While many people who drive on U.S. highways every year are unaware that the general who defeated Germany was responsible for building them, it is no exaggeration to claim, that Eisenhower’s greatest legacy as president, was that he authorized the interstate highways to be built. Even though we have the information highway today, we could not function without our interstates.
 

         Rabbi David Hertzberg is the Principal of the Yeshivah of Flatbush Middle Division. Questions and comments can be emailed to him at Mdrabbi@aol.com.

Share Button

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. David Hertzberg is the principal of the Yeshivah of Flatbush Middle Division. Comments can be emailed to him at mdrabbi@aol.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Parshat Vayishlach”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
ancient skull discovered Gush Etzion
Hikers Find Human Skull and Bones in Gush Etzion Cave
Latest Judaism Stories
Reiss-041814-King

Amazingly, each and every blade was green and moist as if it was just freshly cut.

PTI-041814

All the commentaries ask why Hashem focuses on the Exodus as opposed to saying, “I am Hashem who created the entire world.”

Leff-041814

Someone who focuses only on the bones of the Torah makes his bones dry and passionless.

The following is President Obama’s statement on Passover (April 14, 2014). As he has in the past, the President held an official Passover Seder at the White House. Michelle and I send our warmest greetings to all those celebrating Passover in the United States, in Israel, and around the world. On Tuesday, just as we […]

The tendency to rely on human beings rather than G-d has been our curse throughout the centuries.

“Who is wise? One who learns from each person” (Pirkei Avot 4:1)

In Judaism, to be without questions is a sign not of faith, but of lack of depth.

“I’ll try to help as we can,” said Mr. Goodman, “but we already made a special appeal this year. Let me see what other funds we have. I’ll be in touch with you in a day or two.”

Rashi is bothered by the expression Hashem used: “the Jews need only travel.”

Reckoning Time
‘Three Festivals, Even Out Of Order’
(Beizah 19b)

Two husbands were there to instruct us in Texas hold ‘em – and we needed them.

Question: Why do we start counting sefirat ha’omer in chutz la’aretz on the second night of Pesach when the omer in the times of the Beit Hamikdash was cut on Chol HaMoed?

M. Goldman
(Via E-Mail)

A few background principles regarding the prohibitions of chametz mixtures on Pesach may provide some shopping guidance.

According to the Rambam, the k’nas applies to any chametz on Pesach with which one could, in theory, transgress the aveirah – even if no transgression actually occurred.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

More Articles from Rabbi David Hertzberg
Hertzberg-032814

Without a plan of action, a leader will never be able to lead his followers anywhere, no matter how important the destination or lofty the goal.

Hertzberg-022814-Chaos

Like Dempsey and Gates, leaders must always be cognizant of the costs involved in their decisions – even when the costs are less than human life

G-d, accordingly, is encouraging Moshe to not just focus on reaching the top of the spiritual mountain but remaining there as well, thus fully capitalizing on his gains.

Moshe’s name would forever remind him of the kindness that Pharaoh’s daughter did for him by taking him out of the Nile, and serve as a lodestar to him as he interacts with his people.

Having come to the conclusion that nobody was more qualified than Yosef to lead Egypt in anticipation of and during the approaching famine, Pharaoh appointed him prime minister. This appointment made Yosef the second most powerful man in Egypt.

Esav truly thought he was getting the better part of the deal. He considered that as a hunter, whose life is constantly at risk, it was likely he would die before his father anyway. Therefore, when an opportunity to sell the birthright presented itself he jumped at it and immediately profited from the sale.

Though history offers no hard and fast laws like we find in physics, it does provide us with some guidelines. One of the most important is that when it comes to making plans, “the enemy gets a vote” or as Winston Churchill put it: “However absorbed a commander may be in the elaboration of his own thoughts, it is necessary sometimes to take the enemy into consideration.”

Peter Drucker famously said, “Long range planning does not deal with future decisions, but with the future of present decisions.” Sadly, history is replete with examples of leaders who have not only ignored this principle, but who have lost focus of their immediate goals. By doing so, they not only fail to think about the second and third layers of effects, but they fail to consider the possibility of unintended consequences.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/parshat-vayishlach-2/2006/12/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: