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Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah
For parents to share with children at the Shabbos Table

Parashas Toldos

Trapped in His Own Trap

Twins. Born from the same parents. Nurtured in the same womb. Raised in the same home. One would think that they would have almost indistinguishable natures. Yet, it was not so. In fact, they were opposites.

"Eisav became a man who knows hunting; a man of the field. Yaakov was a wholesome man, dwelling in tents." (Bereshis 25:27). Rabbeinu Bechaye explains that Eisav was drawn after the physical pleasures; therefore he became a trapper, for this is the profession of someone who likes to waste time and gratify his desires. A man of the field - his essence is like the dirt of the field - lowly, base. This led to further evils. Over-involvement with food and drink causes a person to spurn Avodas Hashem (Service of the Almighty). That is the meaning of the verse, "And he (Eisav) ate and drank, got up and left; thus Eisav spurned the bechora (the birthright to perform Avodas Hashem in the Beis HaMikdash)" [25:34].

It is inevitable that someone of this nature will find himself losing out in the end. That is exactly what happened. Yaakov pushed him off twice. The first time he took the bechora, and the second time he took the bracha. Eisav knew that the pleasures of this world are only temporary, therefore he was very pained by losing his share, as the verse states, "He cried out an exceeding great and bitter cry" (27:34).

These faults are bad enough. However, Eisav compounded his problem by trying to hide it. "Yitzchak loved Eisav because the food that he trapped was in his mouth" (25:28). Our sages darshen that Eisav "trapped" Yitzchak by fooling him into thinking that he was a tsaddik. He would bring his father good food, and then ask him supposedly sharp questions, to show how scrupulous he was in performing mitzvos. Rav Shimshon Refael Hirsch relates that Eisav also fooled himself. He hid his true evil nature under a guise of false righteousness. Therefore, he did not work on improving himself. He was forever trapped in suffering his bad middos (character traits).

This concept is reflected in Eisav's development at birth. "The first one emerged red all over like a hairy garment, so they named him Eisav" (25:25). The word "Eisav" has the same letters as "assu" - completely formed. Rashi explains that at birth he had the development of a much older person. The Keli Yakar elaborates that he used all of his physical abilities from the beginning. He did not put the effort into developing his neshama (soul). He would therefore remain a slave to his desires.

Contrast this with Yaakov, a man who pursued spiritual goals. He sat in the tents of Shem and Ever and learned Torah. He was born smooth, like a normal baby. This was a sign that he must develop, as a baby develops. He worked on himself, and became the father of the Shevatim (Twelve Tribes) - Yaakov Avinu.

Kinderlach . . .

It is easy to get caught in the trap. It begins with laziness - wasting time. This leads to spiritual stagnation. It is impossible to grow if you do not work at it. The next step is frustration and making excuses. A person wants to save face. Therefore, he pretends that he is doing well. He ends up fooling himself and those around him. He enters a fantasy world of shekker (untruth) from which is very hard to escape. Don't get caught in the trap, kinderlach! Be like Yaakov - sincere and hard working! Grow in ruchnius (spirituality). True greatness awaits you.

Keeping Busy

"Ha ha ha! Look at that little tsaddik!" the boys said in a loud, mocking voice. "His tzitzis are so long that they reach the ground!"

The young boy squirmed in his seat on the bus. Those teenagers were mocking him and everyone around them.

"Don't look so shocked old man! We are really good boys at heart! Ha ha ha!"

The decent people cringed at this public display of horrible middos (character traits).

A young boy quietly asked his father, "How did these boys get so far off, Abba?"

"Yitzy, every person is an individual, with his own story. Who knows exactly what went wrong? However I can share with you a Devar Torah on this week's parasha from Rav Moshe Aharon Stern which sheds a lot of light on the subject."

"Please, Abba."

"The Torah describes the two brothers, Yaakov and Eisav. 'The lads grew up and Eisav became a man who knows how to hunt, a man of the field, and Yaakov was a wholesome man, dwelling in tents' (Bereshis 25:27). Yaakov was a great tsaddik, a straight, upright young man, who sat in the tents of Shem and Ever, learning Torah. Eisav, on the other hand, was a terrible rasha (evil person), a man of the field. Rashi explains that he was an idle person who hunts wild animals and birds with his bow."

"Abba, what is so terrible about being an idle person?"

"Brilliant, Yitzy! You have touched the heart of the matter. Eisav was a murderer, an immoral person who committed every aveyra (sin) possible. Yet the worst thing that the Torah can say about him is that he was an idle person?! Rav Moshe Aharon explains in the name of Rav Elya Lopian that idleness was not the worst thing that we find in Eisav. Rather it was the cause of everything that he did. Why was he a murderer? Because he was an idle person, and idleness leads to terrible middos."

"I understand. Abba, I always see these boys sitting around doing nothing."

"Exactly, Yitzy. That idleness is the cause of many evils."

Kinderlach . . .

We are always busy. Doing what? Mitzvos. Learning Torah, helping people, praying, rejoicing on the Chagim; our lives are filled with mitzvos. That is good for two reasons. One, mitzvos are great! They bring us close to Hashem, and as a result, He gives us great reward and blessing. Secondly, one who is busy is not idle. He will avoid falling into the trap of bad middos that idleness brings. Keep yourselves busy, kinderlach, with mitzvos, mitzvos, and more mitzvos.

Kinder Torah Copyright 2013 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman

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