Friday, November 23, 2007

Parshas Toldos - "Clothing alone does not make the man"

Recently a few of the readers have told me that before Shabbos, unlike their days of youth, they have limited time to sit and read divrei Torah. NO FEAR. For this reason I will start this week with a short fun fact that I tripped upon after reading YU's "Einim LaTorah". This week's long featured Dvar Torah titled, Two Boys, One Unfortunate Path, the highly acclaimed author gracefully quotes a Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch (Breishis 25:27) that discussed the importance of "Chanoch LaNaar Al Pi Darko" – educate the youngster according to his own way.

In a totally unrelated topic, it seems that a few pasukim earlier while commenting on the physical appearance of Esav and Yaakov (Breishis 25:24) the pasuk says , "When her term to bear grew full, then behold! There were twins in her womb."

This word, behold, tells us that something is of the unexpected. We would expect that based on the description in character of both Yaakov and Esav that their physical appearances would not resemble one another in the slightest. Rav Hirsch explains that because of the word "behold" we must say that in fact their physical appearances were identical! And that the only difference in their appearance was that Esav was almost entirely physically developed at the time of his birth.

The Sefer, Sas Anochi Al Imrasecha Kimotzei Shalal Rav (what a mouthful!) asks, why did Hakadosh Baruch Hu make Yaakov and Esav fight in the womb? The Yeshuos Malko answers that by the fact that Yaakov was holding onto the ankle of Esav, they must have shared a placenta/amniotic sac. Medically, twins that share a placenta are destined either to be identical or Siamese. For this reason Hashem made them move around in the womb to prevent them from being Siamese.

Therefore we must say that Yaakov and Esav were identical twins!

For those of you who are staying in for the long haul below is this weeks food for thought.

If we were to treat this week's Parsha like a movie of sorts we very easily would come to the conclusion that Esav was a bad guy and that Yaakov was good a good guy. Nevertheless, after taking a closer look we see that Esav had one mitzvah down pat. He was seemingly impeccable at the mitzvah of honoring his father.

The Midrash Rabba says that R'Shimon ben Gamliel bewailed the fact that although he served his father for his entire life his actions did not measure up to even one percent of what Esav did for Yitchak. When Esav would serve his father he would put on his finest clothing while helping his father with all of his needs.

R' Shimon ben Gamliel could not have put on his finest clothing as well?

The truth is that he also may have put on his finest clothing to serve his father but the uniqueness of Esav's avodah was that he held a certain sensitivity and emotion while helping his father.

(Gemara in Yoma 47a – for Dovi!) Story with Kimcha who merited having all of her sons serve as High Priests because she never let the walls of her house see her hair.

Many woman make it their life's mission to be modest, very few merit to have all of their sons grow up to be High Priests?!

Rabbi Frand explains that many times we do mitzvos, but totally miss the point when it comes to having the proper mindset while doing them. Our emotions are supposed to be joined with the action at hand. Only then can the action and the intentions work harmoniously together.

The Gemara Brachos 17a says that a person who learns Torah "Shelo Lishma"- Not in the name of G-d, it would have been better had he not been created. Tosafos on 17a asks, "Is there not a Gemara on 50b that says that someone who learns not in the name of G-d ultimately will come to learning in the name of G-d?!" He answers that it all comes down to your initial intentions while learning in the first place. If a person's initial intentions while doing the mitzvos are entirely focused on how others will view them then there logic is skewed.

We must make it our responsibility to do the mitzvos with the right intentions and just because we might have the right clothing this doesn't necessarily mean that it makes the man.


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