Randomly, in the middle of the parsha, a city suddenly appears. Israelites in the Torah are nomads, shepherds – not city-folk. The city is mentioned only twice before Yaakov, both in unflattering circumstances, yet Yaacov, having made peace with his brother Esav, decides to reside in a city:
And Yaakov came home, whole,
to the city of Shekhem,
Which is in the land of Canaan,
On his homecoming from the country of Aram;
And he encamped facing the city.
וַיָּבֹא יַעֲקֹב שָׁלֵם עִיר שְׁכֶם, אֲשֶׁר בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן,
בְּבֹאוֹ, מִפַּדַּן אֲרָם;
וַיִּחַן אֶת-פְּנֵי הָעִיר.
|Le Corbusier (1887-1965), Theorist of the Modern City|
Yaakov is purposeful, rational and directed. His brother, Esav, like Le Corbusier’s pack-donkey, is meandering on the path of least resistance in his thuggish “give-me-soup-now” lifestyle. The pack-donkey represents for Le Corbusier the winding alleys of the European medieval town with its unplanned sprawl. Those meandering pathways of the pre-modern age are contrasted with the efficient, congested, forward-looking, over-worked and hyper-planned modern city of Man, with their grids, tunnels and highways. The message is clear: be a man!
“And Esav said: I have much” – meaning I have much but not all, but Yaakov said: “God has shown me favor – I have all”.
For some people despite having all the gold and silver in the world still feel as if they are lacking, and they have much but are not satisfied, …and others even the small amount in their hand is sufficient and they are happy in their share, feeling that they have all. (Kli Yakar to 33:9)
ויאמר עשו יש לי רב - שמע רב אבל לא כל, ויעקב אמר כי חנני אלהים וכי יש לי כל, לפי שהרשעים אע"פ שיש להם כל כסף וזהב שבעולם מ"מ נראה להם שעדיין הם חסרים, ויש להם רב אבל לא כל צרכם, ...והצדיקים בהפך זה כי אפילו אם יש מעט בידם הם מסתפקים בו ושמחים בחלקם, ונראה כאלו יש להם כל.
"And he showed grace to the city":
Rav said: He established (tikken) coinage for them.
Shmuel said: He established (tikken) markets for them.
Rabbi Yohanan said: He established (tikken) bat
Talmud Bavli Shabbat 34a (for the context of this quote, in the beloved Talmudic story of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, see below)
"ויחן את פני העיר" –
אמר רב: מטבע תיקן להם.
ושמואל אמר: שווקים תיקן להם.
ורבי יוחנן אמר: מרחצאות תיקן להם.
בבלי שבת לד.