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Parshas Toldos


By Rabbi Label Lam

And the first one emerged ruddy; he was completely like a coat of hair, and they named him Essau. (Breishis 25:25)

ruddy: That is a sign that he will be a person who sheds blood (Rashi).

and they named him Esau: They all called him this because he was complete (עָשׂוּי) [lit., made,] and fully developed with hair, like one many years old. (Rashi)

We have to approach the life of Eisav like a forensic scientist approaches a crime scene. We need to search carefully for the delicate clues to figure out what went so terribly wrong with Eisav. Yes, he was born with a rugged nature, ruddy and ready to shed blood. He had from a prenatal and they named him Esau: They all called him this because he was complete (עָשׂוּי) [lit., made,] and fully developed with hair, like one many years old.and they named him Esau: They all called him this because he was complete (עָשׂוּי) [lit., made,] and fully developed with hair, like one many years old.days a predilection for idolatry. All those could have been cured. Dovid HaMelech too was naturally inclined to spill blood. He became a warrior and a savior of the Jewish People. One can become a Mohel, or a Shochet, or a surgeon. Passions can be directed and sublimated. That was not his fatal flaw. Just the opposite is true. The Talmud, (Sukkah 52A) tells us that one who is greater than his friend actually has a greater negative inclination. How about that!! Eisav had potential and plenty of it to rise to the stature of a patriarch. What was his primary problem?

The idea dawned on me when learning the Tractate of Sukkah recently. We are commanded by HASHEM in the Torah to make a Sukkah. Nice! When making a Sukkah is important that it is made and not that it is already done. How is that done? If one digs out of a haystack, for example, the dimensions of a Sukkah, the Sukkah is done but not made. The main part of the Sukkah is the Sechach, the flimsy thatched roof! It must be applied last, after the walls are in legally in place. If when the walls are established the Sechach is already there, the ref calls a foul. The Sukkah is invalid. It was not produced, rather it was already done.

There’s a philosophy of life coded and embedded into these laws and all the laws of Torah. The Sukkah is like our life. Sechach is resting minimally at 10 tefachim which represents Olam Haba, the Next World which was made with the letter YUD (numerical value 10). The Walls make up minimally the letter Heh (from a bird’s eye view). The walls refer to this world which was made with the letter Heh, so say our sages. The walls lead us through the gauntlet of this world to the next world. It is not a gift. It must be earned and acquired through toil. It must be made. If one does not struggle he does not earn. The whole world was created to avoid what the Zohar calls the “bread of shame”. HASHEM could have granted us the reward of the “world to come”without the effort of this world but for the “bread of shame”.

Why? Freebees leave us feeling empty! The taste of success is in the flavor of effortful accomplishment. Nothing is done already! There is no such beast!

Eisav came out completely mature! He saw himself as done! He was talented and good looking and powerful and charismatic. He looked in the mirror and he felt very satisfied. He was complete in his mind, a finished product from birth. His failure to see the need to improve blinded him from seeing faults that were obvious to others.

When G-d made man He evoked the famous phrase, “Let us make man in our image!” To whom was He addressing these words? Is there, was there a partner? The answer is “yes!” emphatically. Man is to be the partner in completing himself.The Vilna Gaon asserted that if a person does not improve his character then, why is he alive!?

Nobody in history could have benefitted more from a strong self-improvement program than Eisav but tragically he lived his life long with the terrible illusion that he was already complete and he was done!

DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and

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