?? Quiz Time??Answers can be found on back page | http://livingwithmitzvos.com/ 1. Why does the Torah detail the whole process of how Yaakov dealt with Eisav?
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In this weeks parshah, Yaakov is fighting a battle against an angelic being and the Torah makes a point of saying that Yaakov was alone during this fight.
The Midrash informs us that this is significant because he shared a
quality with G-d in this regard. G-d is a Being Who is constantly alone,
totally independent and completely autonomous. Human beings have
the same potential ability and, as with all of G-ds characteristics, this is
something that we should try and emulate.
But how should we attempt to imitate our Creator and what do we have
to gain by doing so?
Rav Yerucham, ztl, says that the characteristic of a Torah scholar is
that he is alone and is not influenced by his surroundings. He is an
influencer, capable of impacting and affecting others but is not negatively
affected by them. Rav Wolbe, ztl, quotes from the Kuzari that says that
even while a Torah scholar is amongst his friends and peers, he is still
Unfortunately many of us are defined by the company that we keep and
we use them as a psychological crutch allowing us to preserve a certain
level of anonymity. We sometimes think that as long as I am with others
I dont have to worry about being me, I can just be one of the crowd, slip
into obscurity and never have to express my own personality. And the
bigger the crowd the more I feel secure. However, for people like that, the
times when they are alone are the times when they are lost the most. And
if they are with a foreign crowd, people that they either dont know or
are uncomfortable with, they can get completely disoriented. Our spiritual
expression is not, and should not, be classified by others or dependent
on anyone else. G-ds greatness comes from within Himself and so too
should our own greatness.
And we do not have to be on the highest religious levels to live
according to this ideal. As anyone knows who has had the privilege of
meeting people who have changed their lives around and gone from
an unproductive spiritual plane to soaring close to the Divine, it is a
singularly miraculous event that is as beautiful as it is astounding. Their
ability to exemplify this attribute of aloneness: to go against the grain,
swim against the tide despite what is fashionable and culturally in vogue,
is incredible. They somehow have the inner strength to become spiritually
productive and to keep on ascending the saintly ladder towards perfection.
These particular Torah scholars are a sharp reminder of what can be
achieved when we stop caring about what others think and do what we
are put on this earth to do.
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?? Quiz Time??Answers can be found on back page | http://livingwithmitzvos.com/2. Once Avrahams name was changed we are no longer allowed to call him by his previous
name Avram (except when learning those pesukim in the Torah) (17:5). Why then do we nd that after Yaakovs name was changed to Yisrael (32:29) we can still call him by his previous name of Yaakov?
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And he commanded them, saying, So you shall say to my master, to Eisavwith Lavan I have lived and I have been detained until now.
Rashi quotes the well-known midrash:
Garti is the gematria of taryag, meaning to say, Ive lived with Lavan HaRasha and I kept the 613 mitzvos, not having learned from his wicked ways.
The Gemara in Maseches Sotah (38a) tells us a rule in the name of Rebbe Yehuda that whenever the Torah says the word ko, there is a requirement to say it exactly how it was said, i.e. lashon hakodesh. An example of this rule is that the parshah of birchas kohanim begins with the words ko sevarchu - so shall you bless. The Gemara (ibid) learns from the word ko that when the Kohanim bless Klal Yisrael, it must be done using the exact words of the passuk, i.e. in lashon hakodesh.
In our parshah, Yaakov begins the message that must be related to his brother using the word ko. According to the Gemaras requirement of giving the message over in lashon hakodesh, we can wonder what difference it would make if it was repeated in a different language? Yaakov seemed so particular about this that he even repeated himself saying the word ko twice in his instructions. But why should Yaakov care what language his message is relayed in, as long as Eisav understands clearly what Yaakov is telling him?
If we look back in Parshas Toldos (27:40) at the brachos that Yitzchak gave to Eisav, we note that they were given to him with the following condition. Vehaya kaasher tarid ufarakta ulo mei-al tzavarecha - and it shall be that if Klal Yisrael will not heed the mitzvos of the Torah, throwing off the yoke - then Eisav has his chance and he can overcome them.
At this point, Eisav must be thinking that he does not stand a chance here, because where might you find this happening? What chance does he have at convincing a Yid to throw off the yoke? Ki hem chayeinu - Torah is the stuff that a Yid is made of. It is a Yids life! But on second thoughts, perhaps there is a different way that Eisav can crawl in there; maybe another way that would let Eisav know that even when things look all fine and dandy, it may not be that that way at all. Perhaps there is yet another opportune time to strike against the Jews.
We can suggest that the word tarid used in Yitzchaks brachah is the gematria of 614. Yitzchak was saying that while its true; Klal Yisrael will not ever readily throw off their yoke of mitzvos, there is another way that unwittingly they can stumble. Eisavs only chance against Klal Yisrael is, if we start adding extra mitzvos and unwarranted chumros to the Torah, than ufarakta ulo, chas veshalom, we may end up throwing it all off, causing a great fall. We find in Bereishis (3:3) that it is exactly this concept which led Chava astray with the Nachash. Chava said that it was forbidden to touch the eitz hadaas, but in reality, the prohibition was only on eating from the tree. The Nachash picked up on this addition and threw Chava into the tree. When nothing happened, the Nachash exclaimed that all the same, nothing would happen if she ate from it. Rashi writes that by adding, one is actually subtracting. (See Rashi there). This was Yitzchaks message: If Klal Yisrael will begin to keep 614 mitzvos, i.e. more than necessary; they will actually be on an extremely dangerous slippery slope going downwards. That is when you will have your moment!
Coming back to our parshah, Yaakov needs to send a message to Eisav not to bother starting up with him. If Eisav were to attack at this point, he would not be successful, because he has been true to the Torah. In fact, even in the house of Lavan HaRasha, he had kept all 613 mitzvos. He sends this message with the code word arti which has the numerical value of 613. He starts his message with the word ko, stressing that his message be given over verbatim; in lashon hakodesh and in no other language. Obviously, it would seem that in a different language, the wrong message would be relayed. (Here is where we see the sweetness of the Torah..) If we look at the Targum Onkelos for im Lavan garti, it uses the Aramaic words im Lavan daris. The gematria of daris is 614, exactly what he did not want Eisav to hear, as this would give Eisav the cue that he had been waiting for.
The Torah has so many beautiful mitzvos for us to fulfill. Quoting the words of Rabi Chananya ben Akashya: Hakadosh Baruch Hu desired to give merit to Yisrael therefore he increased Torah and mitzvos for them.
Rashi explains that many of the mitzvos were given for only one reason: to give us schar. There are numerous opportunities for us to grab onto and there is surely at least one mitzvah that is out there that speaks to us. There is no need to come up with more mitzvos. Let us cherish what we have!
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Just as it is impossible to have grain without chaff mixed within it, so it is impossible to have a dream that imports meaning without some senseless matters mixed within it