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Simcha Groffman

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

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In The End You Lose

Twins. Born from the same womb. Raised by the same mother and father in the same home. Logic dictates that they should be very similar. Yet, Yaakov and Eisav are as different as night and day. Eisav is attracted to the material pleasures, while Yaakov pursues spiritual accomplishments. Eisav is described as "a man of the field" (Bereshis 25:27). Rabbeinu Bechaye zt"l explains that he was a lowly person, a man of the earth, "adamah" in Hebrew. Therefore, he was called "Edom". A person must make his efforts to earn a living. However, they are not the focus of his life. His main work is Avodas Hashem (serving Hashem). Eisav neglected Hashem in order to pursue unnecessary pleasures. He had his priorities reversed. He was willing to sell his birthright, which included the right to perform the service in the Beis HaMikdash, for a plate of beans. As the verse states, "He ate and drank (the beans), got up and left; thus Eisav spurned the birthright" (25:34). A person like Eisav will only lose in the end. Yaakov pushed him off twice. He first took his birthright and then his blessing (from Yitzchak Avinu). The pleasures that Eisav pursued were short-lived. When he realized that he gave up eternal spiritual delight, he was very distressed. As the verse states, "he cried very bitterly" (27:34). So too with all of us. If we pursue the wrong things in life, we will only lose on the end. And we will terribly regret it.

Kinderlach . . .

B'ezras Hashem we will make many decisions in our lives. Many of them will offer a choice between ruchnius (spiritual values) and gashmius (material values). Serving Hashem is the focus of our lives. This is the guiding principle behind life's decisions. This brings ultimate happiness and reward. One who chooses the other path only loses in the end. Just like Eisav.

Who's Really Right?

The case was cut and dry. Trickery and cheating at its worst. The younger brother took advantage of his older brother's hunger, and tricked him into selling his birthright for a plate of beans. Years later, he disguised himself as his older brother, and tricked his father into giving him the special blessing reserved for the older brother. Who was right and who was wronged? The older brother looks like the innocent victim. Rav Dessler zt"l takes a deeper look into the situation. When Eisav came to his father to get his blessing after Yaakov had left, "Yitzchak trembled an extremely great trembling" (27:33). He sensed deceit, but who was guilty? Was it Yaakov, who disguised himself, or Yitzchak himself, who allowed himself to be misled? As the verse states, "The voice is Yaakov's voice, but the hands are Eisav's hands" (27:22). Hashem assured Yitzchak that neither of them was guilty. Eisav, "the hunter with his mouth" (25:28) was the trickster. He trapped the game with his nets, and he deceived his father with his mouth. He appeared to be very righteous on the outside, asking Yitzchak about chumros (stringency in halocho). Does one need to give maaser (tithes) from salt? Yet inside, he was immoral and corrupt. Yaakov and Yitzchak corrected the situation by switching the brochos. They were really right.

Kinderlach . . .

We learn two very important lessons from this episode. Things are not always as they appear. The one who looks right may actually be wrong. The one who looks wrong may actually be right. We have to judge people and situations very carefully. Consult with older and wiser people before you come to conclusions. Secondly, we have to be truly good. "If I close my eyes and look like I am concentrating while I pray, then people will think that I have good kavannah (concentration)." The mitzvah is to have good kavannah, not to merely look like you are concentrating. Looks are not enough. They are only skin deep. Kinderlach put Hashem deep in your hearts. Then you will be a truly good person, inside and out.


"There was a famine in the land" (Bereshis 26:1). Yitzchak settled in Gerar, where he became very prosperous. The people of the land envied him. Because of this, Avimelech (the king) told Yitzchak to leave the land. Yitzchak camped in the valley of Gerar. Due to quarrels with the herdsmen there, he moved around until he finally went to Beer Sheva. Travel usually depletes a person's possessions, however Yitzchak remained very wealthy. Avimelech came to visit him in Beer Sheva. "We have seen that Hashem has been with you . . . you are now blessed by Hashem" (26:28-29). The Meshech Chochma zt"l explains that Yitzchak became affluent in Gerar. Avimelech thought, however, that the wealth came from the people of the land. Now that Yitzchak remained wealthy after he left the land, Avimelech realized that the riches came from the hand of Hashem. His hashgacha (personal supervision) brought Yitzchak success.

Kinderlach . . .

We mentioned earlier that Eisav focused his efforts on materialism. That was the main point of his life. He missed the true point of life. Yitzchak's prosperity proves that wealth and material success come from Hashem. Even Avimelech could see that. Kinderlach, don't miss the point. Make your main goal in live Kiddush Hashem (sanctifying Hashem's Name). Everything else will fall into place.

Kinder Torah Copyright 2001 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman

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