Monday, December 12, 2011

Sermons Vayishlach



Topic :   Why is it so hard to be a Yaakov ?

Theme:  Good things are difficult to achieve, Hashem afflicts those who are close to Him to challenge them.

(Could use the Charlie Harrary Yom Kippur video about Partner track)


משלי פרק ג, יא-יב
 מוּסַר יְקֹוָק בְּנִי אַל תִּמְאָס וְאַל תָּקֹץ בְּתוֹכַחְתּוֹ:  כִּי אֶת אֲשֶׁר יֶאֱהַב יְקֹוָק יוֹכִיחַ וּכְאָב אֶת בֵּן יִרְצֶה

"God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them."   Lewis, C.S. 

"Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles that one has overcome while trying to succeed."   -- Booker T. Washington


‘tis the season when politicians come calling.   We have to pay obeisance to them, and them to us, to some extent.  This is the accepted practice of the game.  But surely there is some limit to how much חנופה one is permitted to offer.

And yet, we find that Yaakov gave חנופה to Eisav seemingly without limit.  He even said

בראשית פרק לג, י
 וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב אַל נָא אִם נָא מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ וְלָקַחְתָּ מִנְחָתִי מִיָּדִי כִּי עַל כֵּן רָאִיתִי פָנֶיךָ כִּרְאֹת פְּנֵי אֱלֹהִים וַתִּרְצֵנִי
 Surely this is way overdone!

And yet, the Gemara seems to say otherwise, at least according to one opinion. 

תלמוד בבלי מסכת סוטה דף מא עמוד ב
דרש ר' יהודה בר מערבא, ואיתימא ר' שמעון בן פזי: מותר להחניף לרשעים בעולם הזה, שנאמר: +ישעיהו לב+ לא יקרא עוד לנבל נדיב ולכילי לא יאמר שוע, מכלל דבעולם הזה שרי. ר' שמעון בן לקיש אמר, מהכא: +בראשית לג+ כראות פני אלהים ותרצני. ופליגא דרבי לוי, דאמר רבי לוי: משל של יעקב ועשו, למה הדבר דומה? לאדם שזימן את חבירו והכיר בו שמבקש להורגו, אמר לו: טעם תבשיל זה שאני טועם כתבשיל שטעמתי בבית המלך, אמר: ידע ליה מלכא, מיסתפי ולא קטיל ליה


  • Why would Yaakov do this?
  • Why does Yaakov in general have such a harder time than Eisav – see the verse that we should all be familiar with from the Haggadah
יהושע פרק כד, ב-ד
 וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אֶל כָּל הָעָם כֹּה אָמַר יְקֹוָק אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּעֵבֶר הַנָּהָר יָשְׁבוּ אֲבוֹתֵיכֶם מֵעוֹלָם תֶּרַח אֲבִי אַבְרָהָם וַאֲבִי נָחוֹר וַיַּעַבְדוּ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים:  וָאֶקַּח אֶת אֲבִיכֶם אֶת אַבְרָהָם מֵעֵבֶר הַנָּהָר וָאוֹלֵךְ אוֹתוֹ בְּכָל אֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן וארב וָאַרְבֶּה אֶת זַרְעוֹ וָאֶתֶּן לוֹ אֶת יִצְחָק:  וָאֶתֵּן לְיִצְחָק אֶת יַעֲקֹב וְאֶת עֵשָׂו וָאֶתֵּן לְעֵשָׂו אֶת הַר שֵׂעִיר לָרֶשֶׁת אוֹתוֹ וְיַעֲקֹב וּבָנָיו יָרְדוּ מִצְרָיִם:

·         Why After fighting with Yaakov Avinu all night, why did Eisav's Malach have to go that morning to sing Shira before Hashem. From all days, did this have to be the one?
·         Why were both Yaakov and Eisav crying?
Rav Schwab has a מהלך here that answers all this. 

Eisav is a person who wants everything now.  

What is the difference between the names yaakov and esav?

Esav = asui done

yaakov = ekev - steps

esav is a "big picture" guy

yaakov is a "one step at a time" person

yaakov went back for the "pachim ketanim - small vessels"

and like he said to esav, "ani asnahala li-iti liregel hyiladim uliregel hamlacha asher lifanai - i will travel slow, to the feet of the children and the work that is before me".

Esav needs everything - even ruchniyus - now!!!

If not now, then fugedaboutit!!

Yakkov has the peace of mind, the patience, the foresight, the actual insight, to see every little piece of the puzzle...

Yaakov also knows that one has to go through difficulties, obstacles….he is not for the short term gain. But has his eyes on the bigger prize down the road of being a true oved Hashem.

Rav Yerucham Levovitz said that Eisav cried here because he saw his wasted potential.  He had grown, had 400 men, was rich and powerful, but when he saw what Yaakov had accomplished, he saw that all his greatness was really so small.  After all, he grew up in the house of Yitzchak and Rivka, and was a grandson of Avrham & Sara.  He knew what was real, even if he had been running away for so long.

Yaakov cried because עַל כֵּן רָאִיתִי פָנֶיךָ כִּרְאֹת פְּנֵי אֱלֹהִים וַתִּרְצֵנִי  .  He saw through the fact that Eisav understood the beauty of what Yaakov had accomplished, וַתִּרְצֵנִי , that the face of Hashem was even within Eisav, and could come out on rare occasion.

It was this victory that the שר של עשו had longed for all these years.  After all, the main objective of the  שטן is to put up a very difficult challenge, but ultimately to lose!   When we have been deeply challenged by Satan, but beat him, then the Satan has truly accomplished his objective.

The malach was created so that he should LOSE a fight. Eisav ALWAYS succumbed to his Yetzer Horah. The malach had a daily disappointment with Eisav. Now, for the very first time since his creation, the Malach was bested. He lost a fight. He fulfilled his goal! He is now ready to return to Hashem. He can now proudly proclaim: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Eisav sensed his great failure, and cried.  (paradoxically, perhaps, winning to some measure at that moment).

And thus , it was not overboard חנופה , but showing a Rasha that he has potential.

For us, the takeaway is that rather than complaining iz shver tzu zein a yid, knowing that this is our privilege and pride.

To quote Rabbi Jonathan Sacks:
Yet Jacob never gives up and is never defeated. He is the man whose greatest religious experiences occur when he is alone, at night, and far from home. Jacob wrestles with the angel of destiny and inner conflict and says, "I will not let you go until you bless me." That is how he rescues hope from catastrophe - as Jews have always done. Their darkest nights have always been preludes to their most creative dawns.

Zis schver zu sein a Yid, they used to say. "It's hard to be a Jew." In some ways, it still is. It is not easy to face our fears and wrestle with them, refusing to let go until we have turned them into renewed strength and blessing. But speaking personally, I would have it no other way. Judaism is not faith as illusion, seeing the world through rose-tinted lenses as we would wish it to be. It is faith as relentless honesty, seeing evil as evil and fighting it in the name of life, and good, and G-d. That is our vocation. It remains a privilege to carry Jacob's destiny, Israel's name.

1 comment:

Ariel Shmendrick said...
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