This week’s Shabbat is SHABBAT TOLDOT and, at the same time, Rosh Chodesh KISLEV.
Parashat TOLDOT deals with Rivka (Rebecca) giving birth to Yaakov and Esav. She also tells her beloved son Yaakov to get his father’s blessing of the firstborn.
This way of cheating always bothered me until I learned some deeper insights.
The Ben Ish Chai states that Yitzchak loved his two sons in two different ways. Most of us already know that Esav fooled his father by pretending to be so super frum. The great question is whether Yitzchak knew what was going on or whether he didn’t. Rivka, the mother of the two boys, definitely knew what was going on and Esav could have never fooled her. From growing up in a cheating family, Rivka got Esav’s message right away he she knew what he was up to.
Esav, on the other hand, didn’t want to appear in his father’s eyes as a Rasha (evil person). The Ben Ish Chai writes that Yitzchak said: “If I don’t show him my love when he is pretending, he may think that he doesn’t need to make an effort and that I accept him being evil. If I only show my love to Yaakov, this could cause Esav to be jealous.” Especially because Esav already felt that he was not Rivka’s favourite son by Yaakov.
However, what we actually do learn from Esav: He was the number one in the world of fulfilling the Mitzvah honouring one’s parents. There is no one like Esav who honoured his father more.
Avraham is usually referred to as being kind (Chesed). He loved everyone and treated every human being with kindness. His son Yitzchak, on the other hand, was just the opposite. It is said that he had a lot of Gevurah (Strenght). Whereas Avraham invited everyone into his tent and was constantly busy doing outreach, Yitzchak only stuck to his own little group.
When we look at these two character traits we should be aware of the fact that a person should not act with only one of these traits: Only acting with kindness (Chesed) or only acting with strength (Gevurah). Neither did G-d when He created the world.
Our daily life shows us that we need both character traits and it is necessary to balance them. If someone only acts with Chesed, people will exploit him. Too much Chesed is destructive, as there always has to be a limit and there have to be rules (Gevurah). One cannot just give, give, give but has to find the right balance which is called Tiferet. The third forefather Yaakov was known for represeting Tiferet.
Shabbat Shalom-Gut Schabbes!