Weekly Cycle

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

David in the Parasha, the Torah Portion of Toldot

I once knew a lady that would always give very forceful advice to young girls that were trying to find a husband: "Don't marry potential," she would say. What that basically meant was, "Don't marry someone for what they can become. Marry them for what they are now." My father once also gave a similar kind of "pearl of wisdom": "When a couple gets married, the woman wants the man to change... and he doesn't. The man doesn't want the woman to change... and she does."

Are we able to change? If so, why not "marry potential?"

The Lubavitcher Rebbe has a very interesting explanation as to why Isaac seemed at first to love Esau more than Jacob. The Torah states that Isaac loved Esau because he was had "game/hunt in his mouth." Rashi states that he was able to "catch" Isaac with his mouth, pretending to be the utmost saint around him, to the extent that he would even ask Isaac how to tithe salt. Salt, by the way, does not need tithing according to Jewish law, but Esau wanted to show his father that he wished to go above and beyond the letter of the law.

The Rebbe explains that salt is symbolic of potential. By itself, it tastes bad and is basically inedible, but combined with other foods is can not only give taste, but even preserve them. (Remember, there were no refrigerators back then). Isaac saw Esau's tremendous potential. His soul was from even a higher source that Jacob's (Tohu versus Tikkun), and Isaac would love nothing more than to take all that vitality, all that fierceness and hunting prowess, and bring it to the side of holiness. Essentially, he wanted to elevate Esau.

Rebecca, on the other hand, knew that Jacob was the one that was to lead the Jewish people. She saw in her son Jacob, the tzadik, who embodied all that is true and holy and spent all his time in the tents of study, the power to be able to handle the physical challenges of the world as well, not just the spiritual. Ultimately, that is why in order to receive Isaac's blessings, Jacob had to be enclothed with the garments of Esau, and why Isaac himself, when he is about to bless Jacob, says "the voice is the voice of Jacob, and the hand is the hand of Esau."

That, in fact, appeared to be the ideal. To be able to have the knowledge and the spiritual sanctity of Jacob, along with the physical prowess and this-worldliness of Esau. Jacob would spend the rest of his life earning the blessing he receives from Isaac. When he wrestles the angel of Esau and wins, he then is so changed from his original stature, that he is given a new name, Israel.  The name Jacob was related to the "heel" and, as Esau himself points out, the fact that he was able to outwit Esau twice. The letters of the name Israel stand also for Yashar-El, "the straight one of G-d," as well as Li-Rosh, "to me is the head." Jacob received the blessing through machinations of someone that was at the heel. He now deserved them straight out, as someone that was at the head.

How come then, was Rebecca right in trusting Jacob's potential, yet Isaac so wrong in trusting Esau's? Perhaps the answer is as follows: it was something intrinsic to their nature. Our sages state that Esau was born "hairy," complete already, like a man. The Hebrew  name Eisav can be read as Assui, finished, complete. He was not interested in changing. He was already complete. The commentaries state that he didn't value the right of the firstborn, and was really to exchange it for a bowl of red soup, because deep inside he realized that he couldn't live up to its physical and spiritual demands, and that he wasn't going to change in order to make himself worthy.

Jacob, on the other hand, had smooth skin, he was like a child, still able to fulfill his potential. He was also willing to go along with his mother's request to dress like Esau and "deceive" his father, even though he was completely devoted to truth, and that seemed to go against his very nature. He was willing to change.

Perhaps that is all the difference. Willingness to change, to be young. That it what Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches. The evil inclination is called an "Old Fool," because it fools you into thinking that you are old, when in truth it is all in your mind. There is no such thing. Every day is a new day, and never be afraid to start again. Right now.

That is the secret of King David's success. As we mentioned last week, David was a "kosher" version of Esau. He had the "clothes of Esau" - the outward appearance, as he was red like Esau and had the same military prowess - yet he was completely righteous as well. More than that, he had inherited his forefather Yehudah's quality of being able to admit one's mistakes and repent. He never let himself stay down. He was always ready to start anew. Like his forefather Jacob, he was always willing to change. He therefore was the ideal, and so will be our future and last redeemer, Mashiach Ben David, the Messiah son of David.

When Rebecca takes the clothes of Esau and gives them to Jacob, they are described as Chamudot. The part of the verse reads: "Rebbeca took the clothes of Esau, her big son, the Chamudot (desired, plural).

Rashi explains that Esau desired (Chamad) the clothes and took them from Nimrod [after he killed him]. The Sifsei Chachamim further states that the clothes had originally been from Adam, who wore them in the Garden of Eden. Rebecca was now elevating the clothes back to their proper place.

The gematria of David ben Yishai is 14+52+320=396.
The gematria of the words, "the clothes of Esau," Bigdei Eisav, is 19+376 (+1 kollel) = 396.

The "great" son of David was Daniel, his direct descendant, who is called Ish Chamudot, the desired man. The Talmud in Sanhedrin states that if the Messiah comes from the dead, he will be like Daniel. The Messiah will bring the world back to its proper state, that of the Garden of Eden before the sin of the snake.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Blog Archive


Quick Start: