Shabbat Vayishlach (Gen 32:4 – 36:43)

Jacob prepares to meet his brother Esau after a 20 year separation. Remember that they didn’t leave on the best of terms (Jacob having stolen the blessing from Isaac), so Jacob is understandably anxious. He divides his family into 4 groups. On the surface, he’s splitting the family from least favored to most – the concubines Bilhah and Zilpah along with their children, then Leah and her kids, then Rachel and Joseph and finally himself.

But looking at the meanings of the names tells a different story:
Group 1:
Bilhah (bashful), Zilpah (frail), Dan (judge), Naphtali (wrestling), Gad (luck), Asher (fortune)

Group 2:
Leah (weary), Reuben (see), Simeon (hear), Levi (attached), Judah (praise), Issachar (reward), Zebulon (exalt)

Group 3:
Rachel (God’s Compassion), Joseph (increase)

Group 4:
Jacob (heel-grabber) – now also known as Israel (Wrestles-with-the-Divine)

You can almost imagine Esau, as each group approaches, asking “and what are your names” and receiving a coded message in return.

SO… limited only by your creativity and the category of food which you will be assigned (when you let us know if you can join us), please bring a food that has a hidden message or meaning.


Not sure what this Torah portion is about? You can find a brief summary in The Edible Torah’s “Condensed Guide to the Weekly Torah Readings”. For more information on what The Edible Torah is all about, along with insight on how to set up a pot-luck Shabbat experience, check out “The Edible Torah”.