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Vol. 14 No. 6
Chayim Ya'akov ben Shlomoh Yitzchak ha'Lei
Eisav Hates … Ya'akov … Hates Eisav
"And you will stay with him for several days, until your brother's anger abates. Until your brother's wrath subsides, and he forgets what you did to him" (27:44-5).
Why, the question is asked, does the Torah repeat itself here? And what's more, seeing as hatred is something that lies in the heart, how was Ya'akov supposed to know exactly when Eisav's anger had died down?
The Chochmas Chayim explains that one question answers the other, and he cites the Pasuk in Mishlei "As water reflects a face back to a face, so does one's heart reflect that of another".
" ... until your brother's anger abates", Rifkah told Ya'akov. 'And when will you know when that is?' She added. When "your brother's wrath subsides (within you)". When it strikes you that all feelings of hatred have left you, then you will know that your brother feels the same way towards you'.
The question remains however, the Chochmas Chayim continues, that if Eisav hated Ya'akov for what he had (purportedly) done, why would Ya'akov feel the same way towards Eisav, seeing as Eisav had done him no harm?
To answer this, he turns to Tosfos in Pesachim (113b). Tosfos query the Gemara there, which lists three people whom one is permitted to hate (despite the prohibition of "hating one's brother in one's heart"), one of whom is a Jew whom one has seen perpetrating an immoral act. But this appears to clash with the Gemara in Bava Metzi'a (33b), which, in a scenario where one is confronted with the choice of helping to unload the animal of a relative or of a good friend, or to load the animal of a person whom one hates, rules that (in spite of the additional Mitzvah of Tza'ar Ba'alei Chayim [alleviating the pain of an animal] that lies inherent in the former) one should pick the latter. Why? Because the essence of life is to overcome one's Yeitzer-ha'Ra, and there are not many things more difficult than going to the assistance of an enemy, especially when it entails ignoring the equally important needs of a good friend.
The question now arises that, if the Gemara is speaking about a person whom one is legitimately permitted to hate, as we explained (and it is even a Mitzvah, according to others) - and if it isn't, how can the Gemara legitimize hating one's fellow-Jew ('Out bi'reshi'i askinan) - how does the concept of controlling one's Yeitzer ha'Ra come into play here at all?
Tosfos reply that, based on the above Pasuk in Mishlei, seeing as he hates the perpetrator of the sin, the latter also hates him, creating a dangerous situation, as the hatred threatens to flare up and lead to a feud. Consequently, quashing one's Yeitzer ha'Ra takes precedence here, over and above the additional Mitzvah of Tza'ar Ba'alei Chayim.
And this is what Rifkah was saying to her son Ya'akov. She was telling him to remain with Lavan "until your brother's anger abates", which he would know was the case "when your brother's wrath subsides from you", a sure sign that he will have forgotten "what you did to him".
The Chochmas Chayim ignores the continuation of the Pasuk, where Rifkah concludes "Then I will send for you and take you from there". This indicates, say the commentaries, that it was not up to Ya'akov to determine when Eisav's anger had abated, but that Rifkah herself would inform him when that time arrived, thereby solving the Chochmas Chayim's second problem. The Ha'amek Davar in fact, explains that Rifkah stressed this. Under no circumstances, she warned her son, was he to leave Lavan's presence before she sent for him. And that, he points out, explains why Ya'akov opted to remain with Lavan for another six years, after the initial (stipulated) fourteen years had terminated. Indeed, Ya'akov only took leave of Lavan when instructed by G-d to do so. And G-d of course, was not bound by Rifkah's conditions. Perhaps He knew (what Rifkah could not conceive) as the Navi Amos (1:11) predicted, that Eisav's fury would never come to end.
And he bases the double expression (the Chochmas Chayim's first question), on his own answer to the second one, when he goes on to ascribe it to the difference between the words 'Cheimah' and 'Af', that the Torah uses (two expressions of fear, which he defines as a heated anger and one that lingers, respectively).
What Rifkah was therefore instructing her son was that he was to remain with Lavan, who would protect him in the event of an attack by Eisav, and that he should under no circumstances return home. Because even if Eisav no longer felt the urge to attack his brother, as long as his anger lingered sufficiently to take revenge when they met, Ya'akov was better off staying where he was.
Yet if on the one hand, the Chochmas Chayim's interpretation of the Pesukim is unacceptable, he is right on principle, when he says that hatred breeds hatred, as we will explain shortly.
The fact that as much as forty years later Rifkah had still not sent for Ya'akov, indicates that Eisav's hatred still lingered in his heart and that it was not safe for Ya'akov to return home. Granted, G-d instructed him to go, but G-d was hardly bound by Rifkah's fears. *He* ordered him to return home, and *He* would protect him should the need arise.
Ya'akov obeyed G-d's instructions and left Charan, despite Eisav's continued anger. Now let us cite the final paragraph of the main article, vol. 12 (also adapted from the Chochmas Chayim), where we discussed Ya'akov's eventful confrontation with Eisav.
'To be sure, Ya'akov hated Eisav no less than Eisav hated him (for so David Hamelech writes in Tehilim "How I hate those who hate You, Hashem ... !"). And that was why Eisav came against him with four hundred men. But when Ya'akov looked up and saw Eisav coming towards him with four hundred men, he suddenly realized the danger that faced him, and he quickly changed his tactics. He prostrated himself seven times before him, searching for the good in him "until he reached his brother", until he actually got to think of him as a brother, and not as an enemy. That's when Eisav changed *his* attitude, and responded by running towards Ya'akov, and embracing and kissing him - like a brother'.
* * *
Short of Nothing
"There are two nations in your womb" (25:23).
Do not read 'two nations' ("sh'nei goyim"), but 'two proud (i.e. wealthy) ones' ("sh'nei ge'im"), says Rashi, citing a Gemara in Avodah-Zarah (11a). This refers, says Rashi, to Rebbi, whose table never lacked cucumbers and radishes, neither in the summer nor in the winter.
Tosfos there query this from a Gemara in Kesubos, which relates how, based on his own testimony, Rebbi never benefited from this world even as much as his little finger?
And they answer that the vast array of foods that clearly adorned Rebbi's table were not for Rebbi's personal benefit, but for the benefit of the members of his household and of the numerous guests that as Nasi, he presumably entertained.
The P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro cites the G'ro, who suggests that to say that Rebbi did not derive benefit in this world does not mean that he never ate from all the good things that the world had to offer. Chazal have said that one will have to answer for not availing oneself of all the wonderful things that Hashem created, and we can be sure that that is what Rebbi did. What the Gemara in Kesubos does mean is that he tasted them without deriving any positive benefit from them. What the G'ro presumably means is that since, a. Rebbi ate purely in order to appreciate G-d's goodness and b. eating per se, was low on his list of priorities, Rebbi's every eating experience was immediately transformed into a spiritual one; as the old saying goes 'Most people live in order to eat; Tzadikim eat in order to live!'
Eisav and the Field-man
"And the lads grew up, and Eisav was a man who knew how to hunt, a man of the field" (25:27).
The Mishnah in Kilayim (8:5) discusses a creature by the name of 'Adnei Sadeh' (which is synonymous, says the P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro, with the Yid'oni [quoted by the Torah together with the Ov, at the end of Parshas Kedoshim]). This creature, which is attached to the ground by means of an umbilical cord, has all the features of a man. It is ferocious, killing all that enter its vicinity and tearing it to pieces, and the only way of capturing it is by shooting its cord and severing it from the ground, at which it emits a scream and dies.
Now it seems, says the P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro, that the only person who knew how to capture it alive was Eisav. And that is what the Pasuk means when it says " ... and Eisav knew how to hunt the Ish Sadeh (alias the Adnei Sadeh [as if the Torah had written 'Vayehi Eisav ish yodei'a tzayid, le'ish sadeh' - with a 'Lamed'] .)
Not Long to Go
"Behold I have become old; I do not know the day of my death" (27:2).
Whereas young people tend to think in terms of how many years they will still live, says R. Moshe Cheifetz, old people think in terms of days.
Pretense and Counter-Pretense
"And Rivkah said to Ya'akov her son saying, 'Behold I overheard your father speaking to Eisav your brother saying (27:16).
Ya'akov (the Talmid-Chacham) tended to speak softly, whilst Eisav (the hunter) spoke in a rough voice.
Yitzchak, who was virtually blind, and who suspected that Ya'akov might attempt to outsmart his brother Eisav, therefore issued instructions to the latter, that when he came with the venison, he should speak in a quiet voice, pretending to be Ya'akov, since if Ya'akov would try to take his place, he would be forced to speak in a gruff voice, like him.
That is why Rifkah used the word "Leimor" twice in the one Pasuk, which now means that Rifkah instructed Ya'akov to speak softly (in his natural voice), since she overheard Yitzchak telling Eisav to do likewise, pretending to be him (P'ninei Torah citing R. Nachman from Kosav).
The problem with this explanation is that it renders Yitzchak's query 'The voice is the voice of Ya'akov, but the hands are the hands of Eisav', meaningless, since he himself had issued Eisav with instructions to adopt the voice of Ya'akov, so why did he voice his suspicion that it was 'the voice of Ya'akov'?
Defended by a Mitzvah
"And his mother said to him 'Your curse is on me, only listen to my voice ... ' " (27:13).
'Do it because I your mother, ordered you to', the Chasam Sofer explains. Rivkah promised Ya'akov protection from his father's curses, provided that he not only followed her instructions, but that he did so for the sake of the Mitzvah of Kibud Eim, since 'Sh'luchei Mitzvah can come to no harm'.
The Way a Goy/Yid Speaks
"Arise now and sit up, and eat from my venison" (27:9).
Ya'akov spoke to his father in the second person, the way Yiden speak to their fathers, comments R. Nasan Adler.
But Eisav spoke to him in the third person "Let my father arise ...", in the manner that Goyim speak to their parents.
* * *
"And G-d said to her (Rivkah) 'There are two nations in your womb and two kings will separate from your womb; one nation will be stronger than the other, and the older one will be subservient to the younger one, provided the latter observes the Mitzvos of the Torah' " (25:23).
"And the first one emerged completely red resembling a coat made of hair, and they called him 'Eisav', because he was fully formed, regarding both the hair of his head and of his beard, and regarding his front and back teeth" (25:25).
"And Eisav said 'Behold I am going to die (in this world); nor am I destined to live in the World to Come, so why do I need the birthright and a portion in the world of which you spoke' " (25:32).
"And the shepherds of G'rar quarreled with the shepherds of Yitzchak saying 'The water belongs to us!' However, it was the will of G-d that the well should dry up, so they returned it to Yitzchak, at which point it continued to flow once more. And he called it 'Eisek', because they had quarreled over it" (26:20).
"No sooner had Yitzchak left G'ror, than their wells dried up and their trees stopped bearing fruit, and they realized that this was because they had expelled him. So Avimelech paid him a visit from G'ror, and he prevailed upon his friends and upon Pichol the general of his army, to accompany him" (26:26).
"And Yitzchak said to them 'Why did you come, asking me to pray for you, seeing as you hate me ... " (26:26).
"And they said 'We saw that the word of G-d was with you, because based on your merit we had it good; and the moment you left our land, the wells dried up, the trees stopped bearing fruit; so I said 'Let's bring him back to us, and uphold the oath (i.e. peace treaty) that exists between us' (from the time of your father); and let us now double that oath by making one with you" (26:28).
"And it was when Yitzchak became old, and his eyes became dim (because when his father bound him [on the Mizbei'ach] he beheld G-d's Throne of glory, and from that time on, his eyes began to dim), he called his oldest son Eisav, on the fourteenth of Nisan, and he said to him 'My son, tonight the angels praise the Master of the world, and the (celestial) storehouses of dew are open', and he (Eisav) said 'Here I am' " (27:1).
"And because Ya'akov was frightened of sin, he was afraid that his father might curse him, so he said 'behold my brother is a hairy man, whereas I am smooth' " (27:11).
"And he said 'Bring it to me and let me eat from the venison of my son ... and he ate, but he did not have any wine; so an angel brought him wine from the stock that was put away with its grapes from the time of the creation, and gave it to Ya'akov ... " (27:25).
"And he came close to him and kissed him ... and he said 'See the smell of my son resembles that of the Ketores spices which Yisrael are destined to bring on the mountain that houses the Beis-Hamikdash, which in turn, is called 'the Field that Hashem blessed", and on which he intends to rest His Shechinah there" (27:27).
* * *
AND THEIR MEANING
(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)
Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article
reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch
and are not necessarily Halachah.
Not to Taunt a Ger
We are commanded to refrain from taunting a convert. We are forbidden to despise him, even if it is only verbally, as the Torah writes in Mishpatim (22:20) "And you shall not taunt or oppress a Ger". Even though we are already prohibited from doing so to a Yisrael (a category into which a man who has converted automatically falls), the Torah nevertheless adds this warning with regard to him personally, and what's more, it repeats it again, when it writes "do not taunt him". The reason for this is because one is more easily tempted to taunt ger, who, unlike a native, who has relatives to take his part, has none. Moreover, the Torah is concerned that the frustration at being rejected will prompt him to try and revert to his original status. One may not remind him, says the Sifri, that yesterday he worshipped idols and today he has entered the protection of the Shechinah.
A reason for the Mitzvah (besides the one that we just gave) ... is in order to continually subdue our Yeitzer ha'Ra, not to do any evil that we are easily tempted to do. Therefore concerning a man who lives in our midst, but who has no help or support from anyone in the world, and to whom anyone who wishes, can do harm without fear of reprisals, the Torah warns us here, that together with the Mitzvah of loving him, one should take care not to cause him to go astray, even with words, and to treat him as if he was one of us. Through observing these 'fences', we will acquire a precious and lofty Soul, crowned with good Midos, one which is worthy of receiving G-d's goodness. And in this way, G-d's desire to do good to His creations will be achieved.
The Dinim of the Mitzvah ... such as the numerous warnings which Chazal instigated, after the Gemara in Bava Metzi'a (39b) reminds us that, in no less than twenty-four places, the Torah itself warns us not to abuse him ... And to reinforce the Mitzvah, the Gemara points out that the Torah uses the same expression with regard to loving a Ger ("And you shall love a Ger") as it uses with regard to loving Hashem ("And you shall love Hashem ... ") ! And the Gemara and the Medrash make many similar statements in a number of places (see Choshen Mishpat Si'man 307).
This Mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times, to both men and women. Someone who contravenes it has transgressed a La'av, but does not receive Malkos, since it does not involve an act.
Not to Have Compassion on a Poor Man
whilst Judging Him
Whilst Judging, a Dayan is forbidden to have compassion on a weak or poor litigant. Rather he must arbitrate impartially. This means that, if need be, he must obligate the poor man to pay what he owes the rich one, according to the law, without mercy, as the Torah writes in Mishpatim (23:3) " ... Do not 'favour' a poor man in his dispute". And this La'av is repeated in Kedoshim (19:15). The Sifra explains there that the judge should not arrive at the decision that, since the one litigant is a poor man, and both he and the rich litigant are obligated to sustain him, he will pronounce the verdict in his favour, thereby ensuring that he is sustained in a dignified manner.
The reason for the Mitzvah is obvious, since common sense dictates that Din requires fair arbitration that is not dictated by bias of any nature.
This Mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times to men. Whoever contravenes it and bends the law in favour of a poor litigant, based on compassion, has transgressed a Mitzvah of the King, though he does not receive Malkos, since it does not involve an act.