November 12-13, 1999 4 Kislev 5760
Pop Quiz: What did Ya'akob serve Yitzhak to eat and drink when he went
in for the berachot?
Abraham was one of the busiest men we have ever seen. He traveled from place to place, building altars, serving guests, being tested and passing those tests successfully, and we never find that he was tired. He lived for 175 years and had a full and very involved life and yet the Torah never describes him as tired. We know from our own experiences of great people who are very busy, involved in a million things, and we never perceive them as tired. The lesson here is that someone who is involved with a spiritual dimension to his life has the energy for many more things than someone who is just existing a mundane life. Esav was busy doing sins on the day he sold his birthright and he was not rejuvenated by anything spiritual of any meaning. Therefore, he was "tired." If we fill our lives with meaning, if we have spiritual contact in the things we do, we will have the spice and sparkle which will keep us from getting stale. Only someone who lives a life of materialism, without letting Hashem into his world, will become "tired" easily. Let us be like Abraham and have the energy for much more in our lives. Shabbat Shalom.
by Rabbi Reuven Semah
"[Yitzhak] said,"You are indeed my son, Esav!"and [Ya'akob] said,"I am." (Beresheet 27:24)
Our perashah this week contains one of the most difficult stories to explain. Ya'akob Abinu is always described as the man of truth. The pasuk describes his trait "titen emet l'Ya'akob - you will give truth to Ya'akob" However, we find Ya'akob Abinu deceiving his father, Yitzhak, and receiving the blessings intended for Esav. Make no mistake about it - Ya'akob did not want to deceive his father. Ya'akob knew that it would have been a disaster if Esav got the berachah that Yitzhak wanted to give him.
To illustrate, Rabbi M. Kimmelman tells a true story. Rabbi Aryeh Levine, the famous "father of the prisoner" who comforted and cared for the Jewish prisoners held by the British during the period of the mandate, once noticed that a patient was being neglected by the nursing staff of a Jerusalem hospital. Discreet inquiries led to the information that the patient had no known relatives. Therefore the nursing staff conveniently ignored his needs, feeling confident that no one would ever take them to task for their actions.
Rabbi Levine immediately stormed into the administrator's office, and contrary to his normal demeanor, loudly berated those present for not taking care of his close relative. Having never seen Rabbi Levine in such an agitated state before, the stunned workers assured him that the situation would immediately be rectified, and in fact, whenever Rabbi Levine would later visit his "relative", he would be pleased to observe the first class medical care the patient was receiving.
Now, Rabbi Levine had lied brazenly and deceived an entire hospital, but could anybody blame him for having sinned "selfishly"? Rabbi Levine had simply learned from his ancestor, Ya'akob, that in extreme circumstances, it was permitted.
But before we are quick to learn that lying is permitted, let us answer just one question. Why is it that of all people, Ya'akob, the person of truth was the one to use lying as this method of serving Hashem? The answer is that only Ya'akob, the man of truth, could lower himself to deceive and be so turned off by it that he wouldn't be affected by it.
Anyone else would have been tainted by using falsehood.
This episode in the Torah should strengthen our resolve to champion the importance of truth as emulated by the prince of truth, Ya'akob Abinu. Shabbat Shalom.
"And stay with him a few days until your brother's fury turns away; until your brother's anger turns away from you, and he forget that which you have done to him" (Beresheet 27:44-45)
Why did Ribkah repeat, "until your brother's anger turns away from you"? Ya'akob hated Esav also. He was terribly upset with him for the pain and agony he caused his parents with his behavior.
Ribkah advised Ya'akob to flee to Laban and stay there until Esav's fury would cease. Ya'akob asked his mother, "How will I know that Esav's anger subdued?' Ribkah told him, "When the anger you carry will depart from you, then you can be sure that Esav has forgotten what you did to him, and no longer has animosity against you."
King Shelomo, in his wisdom, says, "kamayim hapanim lapanim, ken leb
ha'adam la'adam - as water reflects the image of a face, so the heart of
man corresponds to the heart of his fellow man" (Mishlei 27:19).
Answer to Pop Quiz: Goat meat and wine.
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