Vayishlach – On Sweetness Created by Deborah

Sharing is good

In an era where bad things seem to happen frequently sometimes it’s good to focus on the gems of peace and truth around us. I’m talking about this week’s Torah portion, Vayishlach. When I first read it I was taken aback by the brutality of the rape of Dina, daughter of Jacob, by Shechem, the chief of his country. I was equally taken aback at the revenge response of her brothers. They murder all of the males of the country of Shechem and plunder their city.

I’m not going to focus on that right now.

Deborah – the Bees

Rabbi Douglas Sagal of Temple Emanu-El writes in his d’var Torah “An Emissary of Peace” about a┬ásmall but very meaningful passage where Deborah dies and is buried.

Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died and was buried under the oak below Bethel; so it was named Allon-Bacuth [‘Oak of Weeping’].” (Genesis 35:8)

The deaths of Rebekah and Leah are not recounted in the Torah, so what makes Deborah’s death so noteworthy? Rabbi Sagal offers varying views from several rabbinic sources but lands on an interpretation from Rashi (Solomon be Isaac), the 11th century French rabbi. Rashi. Rashi “offers the explanation that Deborah had been sent by Rebekah to inform Jacob that Esau’s anger had abated and it was time to return home. If so, then Deborah, whose name means “Bee,” is truly among the first biblical figures to be sent on a mission of peace and reconciliation. Thus just as the honeybee is instrumental in creating sweetness, so, too, was Deborah, the bringer of peace.”

So this week I choose to focus on the sweetness created by the bees and peace brought about by authenticity and reconciliation.