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Shabbat Parashat Toldot 5778

Parashat Hashavua: Belief Solely in the Merciful G-d

Harav Shaul Yisraeli based on Siach Shaul, p. 80-81

The midrash (Bereishit Rabba 63:2) says on the pasuk, “So said Hashem to the house of Yaakov, who redeemed Avraham” (Yeshaya 29:22) that Avraham was saved from the furnace into which he was thrown in the merit of Yaakov. What makes Yaakov so great?

Yaakov’s lot was the most tragic of the forefathers. We do not mean in that he suffered torment, but in the fact that his characteristics are most negatively distorted. In truth, Eisav was the one who knew to hunt (Bereishit 25:27), which means to mislead (Rashi, ad loc.) and was the creator of doubletalk, and Yaakov was an unblemished man who did not know how to mislead (ibid.; ibid.). However, in regard to the explicit actions that they took, it appears as if it is Yaakov who is the hypocrite. Eisav seems to have received whatever he needed in life without difficulty, whereas Yaakov had to get what he needed/wanted indirectly and through deception. The one who hated deceit was portrayed as circumspect, as Eisav claims that Yaakov’s very name indicates (Bereishit 27:36). Eisav was not willing to admit that Yaakov’s name meant something else, that he held Eisav’s ankle (akev, which can mean heel or trickery), indicating that it was Eisav who improperly had claimed the firstborn status.

It takes a serious amount of proper self-confidence in order to overcome fundamental characteristics. It is much easier to fight when you know what you are fighting for. When Avraham was thrown into the furnace, he knew that he was thereby doing an act of sanctification of Hashem’s name. It is greater, though, for Yaakov to buy a firstborn status that Eisav did not deserve even though he knew that it would cause him to be besmirched as unethical and antisocial. One needs a self-confidence of “He raised his heart in the ways of Hashem” (Divrei Hayamim II, 17:6), which reduces to nothingness the empty showiness and hypocrisy of someone like Eisav, in order to prevent catastrophe.

“If Your Torah had not been my delight, I would have then been lost in my despair” (Tehillim 119:92). We should not lose our self-control and the realization of our high status in our world (see Bereishit Rabba 63:7). We possess the true foundations of justice, whereas Eisav is haughty about his strong kingdom, which is one of domination and hypocrisy that covers up for its murders and abominations. Eisav’s nation may try to show itself as pretty and pleasant, and claim that our set of ethics are his. He may ask his father: “How do we take tithes on salt?” (see Rashi, Bereishit 25:27). At the end (not yet – Zohar, Ki Tisa), the truth will emerge, and the kingdom of the world of truth will be founded. It is a kingdom of the “hand that holds Eisav’s heel” and smashes all dishonesty.

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