November 29th should not be taken for granted

We are told at the beginning of Parshat Vayeshev (Breisheet 37:1) “Yaakov settled in the land of his father’s residence, in the Land of C’naan.” Don’t we already know from Parshat Vayishlach that Yaakov and his family returned to the Land of C’naan?

Radak explains that Esav was living in C’naan temporarily and once Yaakov came back, he left.

We read about Esav leaving the Land of C’naan at the end of Parshat Vayishlach, Breisheet 36:6, “Esav took his wives, his sons, his daughters, all the people of his household, his livestock, all his animals, and all his possessions that he acquired in the Land of C’naan and went to the land away from his brother, Yaakov.” Rashbam points out that Yaakov lived in the land of his fathers since he had the birthright.

In Breisheet 36:8 we read that “Esav settled in Mt. Seir. Esav is Edom.”

Wasn’t Esav already in Edom when Yaakov returned to C’naan? Parshat Vayishlach (Breisheet 32:4) opened with the words: “Yaakov sent messengers ahead of him to Esav, his brother, to the Land of Seir, to the field of Edom.”

According to Chizkuni, originally the Land of Seir belonged to Seir and when Esav married Ahlivama, he inherited the land of Seir since she was the daughter of Anah, the daughter of Tzivon, the son of Seir the Churi.

Where does Chizkuni get this genealogy from?

Breisheet 36:2 states: “Esav took wives from the daughters of C’naan: Adah, the daughter of Eylon, the Chiti and Ahlivama, the daughter of Tzivon.” Breisheet 36:20 continues: “These are the sons of Seir, the Churi, the inhabitants of the land: Lotam, Shoval, Tzivon and Anah.”

Chizkuni explains that Esav would go with his wives to Seir and his heart was drawn to the place which was later named after him “Sdeh Edom”, “Field of Edom” since he was a hunter and he spent a lot of time in the fields.

Sforno points out that Edom was in the Galil of Seir which is the area that Esav lived in since the Churi who lived in Seir had not yet been conquered by Esav’s descendents.

Even though Esav was given Seir, it was already occupied and God had to help his descendents conquer it (Dvarim 2:22) “As He had done to the descendents of Esav living in Seir, from before whom He destroyed the Churi and they drove them out and settled in their stead until today.”

Esav’s departure to his homeland reminds us of Yaakov’s journey in Parshat Vayetzei (Breisheet 31:17-18):  “Yaakov rose and lifted his children and his wives upon the camels. He led away all his livestock, and all his possessions that were acquired, which he had purchased with his own livestock that he had acquired in Padan Aram, in order to come to Yitzchak, his father, to the Land of C’naan.”

Each twin moved to the land that they would permanently inherit.

Why was it necessary to say that Yaakov settled “in the land of his father’s residence” and “in the Land of C’naan”?

According to Chizkuni, if it didn’t say “in the land of his father’s residence” we wouldn’t know which city he was living in (Chevron). If it didn’t say “in the Land of C’naan”, one may have though that it was the land that Avraham came from, Ur Kasdim.

Chizkuni explains that God’s word is upheld forever: Avraham was promised in Breisheet 17:8 “I will give to you and to your descendents after you, the land of your temporary residence, all the land of C’naan as an eternal possession, and I will be a God to them.” The fathers settled in the land as it says concerning Avraham (Breishhet 13:18): “Avram set up his tent, and he came and settled in Elonei Mamrei, in Chevron, and he built there an altar to God.”

This promise was passed down through Yitzchak to Yaakov who inherits the Land of C’naan (which is later named after him, Eretz Yisrael, Israel) while Esav inherits Seir which is later named after him (Edom).

Yesterday was November 29, Kaf-tet b’November, the date in 1947 when the UN decided to fulfill the promise of the 1917 Balfour Declaration which recognized the Jewish people’s right to a national home in their nation’s homeland.

We have come full circle. Avraham was promised the Land, Yaakov settled the Land and miraculously we are back in the land which is now called the State of Israel! November 29th should not be taken for granted!

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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