Weekly Words of Torah goes PC (Parashah and Chesed) – Parashat Vayishlach 5780

To inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women
By Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, Executive Director, Women’s League For Conservative Judaism

Parashat Vayishlach begins with Jacob preparing to meet his brother Esau after many years of not seeing each other. The night before the meeting, Jacob wrestles with a stranger, who changes his name from Yakov (or Jacob), which refers to his pulling his brother’s heel during birth, to Yisrael, Israel, one who wrestles with God. When Jacob/Israel meets Esau in the morning, they embrace and seem to let go of their past grievances. From there, Jacob and his family go to Canaan, where his daughter Dina gets involved with a man from Shechem, and Dina is subsequently raped. On the way to Beth El, Rachel dies giving birth to Jacob’s son Benjamin.

The story of Dina’s rape shows that the issues of domestic violence and rape are not new, but began in Biblical times. An idea related to Chesed this week is to educate your sisterhood about the issue of domestic violence, and perhaps do a joint program with your synagogue youth group about the concept of consent. Find a women’s shelter in your community, and ask what they need for the shelter, and start a collection for those items.

Weekly Words of Torah is a brief paragraph prepared weekly by our Executive Director, Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, presented in our “This Week @ Women’s League.” WWOT will provide meaningful thoughts related to the Weekly Torah Portion, an event on the Calendar, a Prayer, or something of Jewish interest, to inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women. If you have any particular interest in future topics, or want to send Rabbi Wolintz-Fields an email, you can contact her at ewolintz-fields@wlcj.org. Read previous Weekly Words of Torah here, and stay up-to-date with the latest WWOT theme, Chesed, here.