Friday, November 19, 2010

[KollelH blog] VaYishlach

This week's parshah tells the culmination of a story of almost 100 years in the making. The two people who would shape the history of the world and who are still symbolic of Good & Evil to this day are about to meet for the first time in thirty four years. The great showdown would define the future of their descendants forever. The momentous event unfolds quite dramatically as Yaakov sends forth messengers with an impressive gift to Eisav, then prays, and, as he prepares his camp for war, engages in a scuffle with Eisav's Angel.

The actual meeting of the two is also described with dramatic detail as Yaakov and his family humbly bowed and Eisav rushed forward to either kiss or bite his younger brother's neck.
What followed, though, was a curiously insignificant 'opening lines' for such a huge build-up.

Eisav asked, מי אלה לך - "Who are all these (people that are associated) to you?"
Yaakov responds, הילדים אשר חנן אלקים את עבדך - "The children that G-D has graced your servant with."
"What is your association with the whole group of messengers that I encountered?"
"To find favor in the eyes of my master."
''יש לי רב - I have plenty. Keep what is yours.".....
"Please take it, כי חנני אלקים וכי יש לי כל - because Hashem has graced me and I have everything."

How can such a simple question be the first thing Eisav, the murderous enemy, can ask? After all these years all he wanted to know was the relationship between Yaakov and the rest of his group? One would assume that it was self evident that the people with Yaakov were his family! Surely, there must have been a deeper intent to the above discussion.

In Yaakov's Tefillah previous to the meeting, he states his concern of " קטנתי מכל החסדים - I have become small from all the kindness that Hashem has done for me." How can Yaakov believe that his family and small fortune were not well deserved?

The Kli Yakar, as well as many others, note the difference between Yaakov's content claim of "I have EVERYTHING" and Eisav's claim of "I have ALOT" which still left him with an appetite to have some more.

What was it that caused Yaakov to have such an amazingly satisfied feeling of 'having it all' while his brother who had much more than him still felt lacking?

The Tana D'vei Eliyahu (zuta 3.19) presents a little background to the meeting of Yaakov and Eisav that will help us understand their discussion better.

Though not quite understandable to us, (I think) Yaakov and Eisav struck a deal already in their mother's womb. The world of spirituality and olam habah would be for Yaakov and the world of materialism and olam hazeh would be Eisav's. The deal was 'signed off' at the time they exchanged the lentil beans and the b'chorah. This would mean that Yaakov would have no 'rights' to the materialistic pleasures of this world. His rights to olam hazeh would be only to the extent of survival and whatever is needed for Torah and Mitzvos. Eisav, on the other hand, gained full rights to all the worldly pleasures available, but relinquished his rights to olam habah.

Eisav's entire intent on the destruction of Yaakov was to regain his stand in olam hazeh which Yaakov stole from him at the time of the brachos. Thus, as much wealth as Eisav could amass, his rights allowed for more and he felt very deserving of it as well. On the other hand, Yaakov had no rights to the pleasures of olam hazeh at all! Therefore, anything more than the bare minimum needed for his existence was a gracious undeserved blessing from above. So long as a Jew has his life, food, clothing to wear, and enough money to fulfill the commandments, he truthfully 'HAS IT ALL'. Anything more is extraneous; a luxurious blessing from G-D.

When Eisav saw the numerous women and small fortune that that were with Yaakov, the 34 year old claim that he had against Yaakov finally was expressed! "How are all these yours?! What right do you have to the world of wealth and numerous wives and family?! This is MY world!"

Yaakov responded, "You're right. These are not 'mine' by rights. They're all an extra gracious gift from G-D. Please accept my gift to you as I already have all that I deserve.

Eisav could not have that same level of contentment. He had rights to more and, though he had alot, he certainly did not feel he had it all.

This explains the unquenchable thirst the nations have to continuously advance in wordly matters and desires without any contentment or end in sight. They can never feel they 'have it all' so long as there is more to get.

Perhaps, this may offer a practical (see Rashi that Dinah's capture was a punishment for Yaakov's hiding her from a prospective marriage with Eisav) cause for Dinah's capture as she was the only one 'absent' for this important lesson! She felt the need to see what the neighboring women had to offer and so she was taken wooed into staying with Shechem when he promised her that she will have it 'all'. (see Rashi )

This also explains why the brothers made a separate effort (pasuk 27) to loot the entire "city that had defiled their sister" after they had already killed all the men, only to leave much of the spoils behind a little while later. It was the whole city that they attributed to defiling her because it was 'all' that they had that attracted her in the first place. The brothers wanted to show Dinah 'all' the nations had to offer and, after a short time, it would be clear that we lack nothing.

We don't deserve olam hazeh. We don't have rights to olam hazeh. What we do have in the materialistic world is a gift.

We have it all. Gut Shabbos.

Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 11/19/2010 02:53:00 PM

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