Torah thought forFriday 1 Kislev 5783 November 25 2022

Parashat Toldot

Based on the teachings of HaGaon Rav Yaakov Galinski zt”l (Translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK)

Yitzchak Allowed Eisav to Attend to Him: Hoping the Most Wicked Will Repent

It states in the Parashah, “Yitzchak had grown old and his eyesight was fading. He summoned his elder son Eisav. ‘My son.’ ‘Yes.’ ‘I am old and have no idea when I will die…My soul will then bless you before I die’” (Bereishit 27:1-4).

After this it states that Yaakov trounced Eisav, and he came first to receive the berachot. His father said about him and blessed him, “’See my son’s fragrance is like the perfume of a field blessed by Hashem. May Hashem grant you the dew of heaven and the fat of the earth, much grain and wine’” (ibid 27:27-28).

“Yitzchak had just finished blessing Yaakov, and Yaakov had just left his father Yitzchak, when his brother Eisav came back from his hunt…‘Who are you?’ Asked his father Yitzchak. ‘I am your first-born, Eisav!’ he replied. Yitzchak was seized with a violent fit of trembling…When Eisav heard his father’s words, he let out a most loud and bitter scream. ‘Bless me too, Father,’ he pleaded….‘and now he took my blessing!’…His father Yitzchak then replied and said, ‘The fat places of the earth can still be your dwelling, and [you can still have] the dew of heaven. But you shall live by the sword. You may have to serve your brother, but when your complaints mount up, you shall throw his yoke off your neck’” (ibid. 27:30-39).

Our chachamim provided many Midrashim and explanations of these pessukim, which are replete with depth and lessons for generations. However, we work on the premise that Heaven enabled Yitzchak Avinu to make a mistake, to love Eisav to the extent that he would receive at the very end the berachot. However, it is astonishing for it states, “Yitzchak was seized with a violent fit of trembling”, and our chachamim explained that he saw Gehinnom gapping beneath Eisav’s feet. Meaning that at that moment Yitzchak already knew that his son Eisav was wicked, and that Gehinnom was open beneath his feet, and therefore he further said about Yaakov, “The blessing will remain his” (bid. 27:33). If so, why did he not now drive away Eisav from before him? Why did he make the effort and bless him with other berachot? Moreover, it is astonishing, that after this entire awesome event, that Yaakov fled from Eisav to Charan whilst Eisav continued to serve his father, as explained in the Midrash. How did Yitzchak consent that his wicked son serve him?

Surely Yitzchak should have distanced Eisav, yet we see that he chose the second option, to bless Eisav! Why?

Our chachamim (Hagigah 15a) relate about Elisha ben Avuya, he was referred to as “Acher” (the “Other”), and he was amongst the greatest of the Tannaim. He merited to see the Creator’s secrets in the scrolls relating to the upper spheres. But he made a mistake and came to devastating conclusions. To the extent that he heard a heavenly voice that said, “Return children who are repenting, except Acher!” He said to himself since I have been banished from Olam Haba, I may at least benefit from this world. He went off the derech (path)! All his friends and pupils left him, except one, Rebbi Meir!

Rav Yaakov Galinski zt”l (Vehigadta), asks why did Rebbi Meir not behave like everyone else? Why didn’t he forsake Acher? The answer is that Rebbi Meir still wanted to draw Acher near, and return him to good!

And so our chachamim relate, that Rebbi Meir said to Acher, “Return!” Acher retorted, “I have already heard from behind the screen, ‘Return children who are repenting, except Acher!’” Despite this, we find that our chachamim said, that Rebbi Meir repeatedly attempted to return Acher in teshuvah. Even after his death he made efforts to improve his lot.

Our chachamim (Gittin 56a) related that Emperor Niro was sent to destroy Yerushalayim. When he approached Yerushalayim, he arranged a type of “draw”. He fired an arrow to the east, and the behold the arrow turned to Yerushalayim! He fired an arrow to the west and likewise in all directions, and he saw that it always flew in the direction of Yerushalayim! He saw in this an omen that he should destroy Yerushalayim and that Heaven agree to it!

Despite this, he turned to a Jewish child and said to him, “Read me a passuk!” The child responded, “I shall place my vengeance against Edom, in the hand of my people Yisrael” (Yechezkel 25:14). Meaning that whilst Edom may destroy the Bet HaMikdash but afterwards Hashem will punish them for what they have done. Emperor Niro said, “Hashem wants to destroy his Home and afterwards to wipe and clean his hands on me?” He fled and converted, and from his offspring Rebbi Meir was born!

Now everything is clear! Rebbi Meir said to himself, “My grandfather’s grandfather was destined to destroy the Bet HaMikdash and to lose his world for all eternity. Yet in the end he converted and was transformed from one extreme to another! If so, for sure Acher still has hope!

How were they able to accept Emperor Niro as a Jew? Because conversion transforms the person! “A convert who has converted is like a newborn child!” (Yevamot 48b). Just as this is true for conversion so too it is true for one who repents.

At no time should a person give up hope for any Jew. We saw this with Maran zt”l that he was always convinced that every Jew has a good chance. Even when the most distant people come, he believed in them, that they have holy sparks in their hearts in which fire may be kindled, which will burn in their hearts and return them to Hashem! Therefore Yitzchak didn’t give up hope for Eisav the wicked one. He continued until the end of his days to draw him near and to bless him, to teach him as much as possible. To try every which way to improve his son’s situation and perhaps even to make him repent!

An apostatised Jew has Gehinnom open beneath their feet, yet despite this, it is in their capacity to transform themself from one extreme to another!

Shabbat Shalom!