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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 25, v. 32: "Hinei onochi holeich lomus v'lomoh zeh li b'choroh" - Behold I am going to die so what benefit is there for me of the primogeniture - Rashi comments that this was actually a response to Yaakov's salesmanship of the inherent risks of being a Kohein. He detailed to Eisov all the services that if done incorrectly carry with them the death penalty. Eisov then said that the responsibilities would bring him to die, so it was not worth it.

The Ibn Ezra explains these words of our verse in a simple, cogent, and very compelling manner. Eisov said that since he was a wild game hunter, a very high-risk occupation, he would most likely be killed on the job and not outlive his father. The likelihood of his taking over the priestly status was close to nil, so he readily sold his entitlement to Yaakov. Why does Rashi explain our verse in a manner that requires us to read between the lines and add that Yaakov first told Eisov the extreme risks of being a Kohein, when he could have simply explained it as does the Ibn Ezra?

Perhaps Rashi is bothered with the words in verse 34, "Va'yivez Eisov es habchoroh," and Eisov cheapened the primogeniture right. After Eisov said "hinei onochi holeich lomus," and that this made the "b'choroh" insignificant to him, in which way did he cheapen it? As well, why is this stated here and not earlier at the point of the completion of the sale in verse 33, right after "va'yimkor es b'choroso l'Yaakov?"

Rashi alleviates these issues with his explanation. If we say that Eisov is responding to Yaakov's warning him of putting his life in jeopardy by remaining a b'chor, although this is not implicit in the verse, it is very well understood how Eisov demeaned the "b'choroh." For the pursuit of "ruchniyos" he wasn't willing to risk his life, but for hunting and capturing wildlife he was. This is truly a demeaning of the "b'choroh," and it was not the sale itself that demonstrated his cheapening of his first-born's entitlement. It was that immediately after the transaction and grabbing a meal to refresh himself that "va'yokom va'yeilach," he stood up and went - went where? - right back to hunting, that he demonstrated his total disrespect for the "b'choroh." (n.l.)

We could well take a lesson from this insight and apply it to our daily lives. Many years ago there came a man to our community to claimed to have the power to look into your life and advise you. His medium was looking into your mezuzoh or your tefillin scripts. As a sofer, I received mezuzos and tefillin parshios that he looked at, and was asked to reroll the mezuzos and place the scripts into the tefillin housings. I found some of the mezuzos that he said were not kosher, to be kosher, and also the reverse, and the same with tefillin. One day he and his attendant, who knew I was a sofer, bumped into me. After exchanging niceties, I questioned his need to have the petitioner's "kisvei kodesh" in his hands to tell the person some personal matters in his/her life to gain his confidence before launching into a formula for success, etc. His response to me was that his special "talent" required no "kisvai hakodesh." He simply knew that "people were eating out of his hand," so he took advantage of the opportunity to get people to replace improper mezuzoh and tefillin scripts. He felt that there was an unacceptably high percentage of non-kosher scripts in people's possession.

Getting to the point: His "kabolas tzibur" hours were posted in various places, and as mentioned before, some people came to me afterwards for sofer services. More than one person mentioned to me that the waiting lines were extremely long, as was the waiting time. One person asked me if I had gone to him, to which I responded that I did not, and also had no intention of doing so. I could see on the person's face that he felt that I was slighting the "chacham" and for that matter him, for going there and waiting so long. To assuage his hurt I simply said that many times there are great "talmidei chachomim" and holy Admorim who come to our community and the lines there are likewise quite long, and I did not go, not wanting to wait long hours. I said that I would be cooking my own goose if I were to go to this ESP chacham. After 120 years I would be taken to task for not taking the opportunity to see so-and-so, a great Admor, a great talmid chochom, etc. I figure that I would respond that I simply wasn't ready to spend long hours waiting in line, pushing, shoving, etc. Then a prosecuting angel would surely appear and say, "Zvi Akiva, you spent hours in line to speak with an ESP'nik." What would I answer then? This actual scenario and the like, which happen many, many times in our life, will not stand in our good stead. Don't say, "I am afraid to risk my life for spirituality," and then go out into the wild forest to hunt lions. This is true "Va'yivez Eisov es habchoroh."

Ch. 25, v. 32: "V'lomoh zeh li b'choroh" - So what benefit is there for me of the primogeniture - There might be another concern that Eisov had with his maintaining the Kohanic birthright. "Li" is explained by Rashi to mean "lishmi" (Shmos 25:2). "Lishmi" is spelled Lamed-Shin-Mem-Yud, and has the same letters as "sholim," which is the word "shol*o*m" found near the beginning of parshas Pinchos, the peace covenant with Pinchos. The GR"A explains that the "Vov k'tioh," a short Vov alludes to this word being spelled with a Yud, and thus its numerical value would be 380, the number of Kohanim who would serve in the two Botei Mikdosh. Obviously they were dying out like flies, as both Botei Mikdosh combined stood for only 830 years.

This is Eisov's remark of "lomoh zeh LI," - "lishmi" = "sholim." If I will retain the status of Kohein many of my descendants will have their lives shortened. (n.l.)

Ch. 27, v. 46: "Im lokei'ach Yaakov ishoh mibnos Cheis ko'eileh" - if Yaakov takes a wife from the daughters of Cheis like these - Yitzchok seems to take Rivkoh's advice and calls in Yaakov. However, instead of prohibiting him to take a wife from the "bnos Cheis," only one of the seven nations that occupied Eretz Yisroel at that time, he gives him a much broader prohibition, "Lo sikach ishoh mibnos K'no'an."

Perhaps it was not Rivkoh's place to involve herself in guiding Yaakov in taking his life's partner. This is Yitzchok's responsibility. She however, wants to have Yaakov leave post haste, for fear of Eisov's planning to do him in, while at the same time not telling this to Yitzchok. To minimize her "stepping over the line," she broaches the matter to her husband in a limited manner, saying that the "bnos Cheis" are right here under our noses, "mibnos Cheis KO'EILEH." This leaves Yitzchok ample space to say that this is insufficient, as a wife from any of the seven nations is not acceptable. This explanation will have to do until a better one comes my way.



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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