Meaning of Dots

ויפל על צוארו וישקהו ויבכו (לג,ד)

The Rav said the following vort from his father.

Rashi explains why there are נקודות on the word וישקהו. The first opinion is שלא נשקו בכל לבו. The second opinion of רשב"י is הלכה היא בידוע שעשו שונא ליעקב, אלא שנכמרו רחמיו באותה שעה ונשקו בכל לבו. The first explanation is according to the general rule that the נקודות are coming to minimize the meaning of the word that they are on. So usually when it says וישקהו, it is wholeheartedly so comes the dots to tell us that he was not נשקו בכל לבו. But according to the second explanation that it was a real נשיקה, the dots are not coming to reduce and takedown from the simple meaning of the Pasuk, which is inconsistent with the general rule that נקודות come to reduce the meaning of the work. Furthermore, what is pushing Reb Shimon Bar Yochai to see Eisav in a positive way as really being נשקו בכל לבו? And even more so since it’s not just that Eisav disliked Yaakov but רשב"י says that הלכה היא בידוע שעשו שונא ליעקב, it’s even more of a reason to say that it was not נשקו בכל לבו and nevertheless, Reb Shimon Bar Yochai is going out of his way to explain that it was נשקו בכל לבו?

The answer to these questions could be that since רשב"י says that הלכה היא בידוע שעשו שונא ליעקב and it wasn’t merely a disliking rather it was a שיטה that he hates Yaakov, so by saying once again that it wasn’t a wholehearted kiss wouldn’t be reducing anything and would be obvious. But by saying it was נשקו בכל לבו, it is really reducing the נשיקה because we are highlighting that Eisav was inconsistent with his own ideology. A נשקו בכל לבו in the context of Eisav who had a שיטה of hating Yaakov is really a meaningless נשיקה. It’s not a נשיקה on any level because it was inconsistent with his ideology that he hates Yaakov. If one holds of the ideology of עשו שונא ליעקב but loses himself in a weak moment and is overcome by emotions and is נשקו בכל לבו that shows that he is inconsistent and that’s the גנאיthat עשו can’t stick to his own ideology.

As a ראיה, the אבות דרב נתן פרק לד אות ד writes about how נקודות reduce the meaning of the word and regarding עשו it says רבי שמעון בן אלעזר אומר נשיקה זו של אמת וכולן אינן לאמת. But where were there other נשיקות to say that וכולן אינן של אמת? The explanation could be that since he kissed him a נשיקה של אמת, that makes it that all other נשיקות are אינו אמת because all the actions of an inconsistent person are not real and אמת. אמת means a person who stand for something. But a person, who in a moment of weakness succumbs to emotion and kisses his brother which goes against his שיטה to hate him makes everything he does in to a non אמת.

There are many paths a person can choose, some good and some bad. But to switch paths and not be able to stay consistently on one path is the issue. As the Pasuk says in Yirmiyah chapter 2 כי שתים רעות עשה עמי אתי עזבו מקור מים חיים לחצב להם בארות בארת נשברים אשר לא יכלו המים. Rashi there writes אם המירו יראתם בכיוצא בה יש כאן רעה אחת ועכשיו שאותי עזבו שאני מקור מים חיים ללכת אחרי העכו"ם. Even if a person ח"ו turns to עבודה זרה, the fact that he isn’t loyal to his false beliefs and he is inconsistent in his way of life is in itself a חסרון. Therefore it says שתים רעות עשה עמי, that besides for the רעה that they betrayed Hashem and served Avoda Zarah, the initial רעה is that they are inconsistent in their belief.

Putting It All Out on the Table

In the beginning of the Parshah, Yaakov tells the Malachim to tell Eisav ויהי לי שור וחמור צאן ועבד ושפחה וכו'. Why is he telling Eisav about all his possessions that he amassed and why would Eisav care to know about that? Additionally, Yaakov tells the Malachim to tell Eisav עם לבן גרתי which Rashi says תרי"ג מצות שמרתי. Why should Eisav care to know about all of this? Sometimes, when a person conceals information and he has secrets about himself, it’s difficult for people to connect with him. But if a person shares all the information about himself, puts it all on the table and says this is who I am and what I am up to, then it makes it easier for someone to connect to him. So Yaakov is telling him that he isn’t hiding anything from him, rather this is who he is and this is what he has been up to. Therefore even if they might have their differences, but if they are open with each other and everything is known, then they can bridge the gap.

There is a Halacha in Yoreh Deah 89:1 that if one person is eating meat and one person is eating milk on the same table, it is only an issue if they are מכירין זה את זה. The Taz explains in the name of the Maharshal that מכירין is משמע שאוהבין זה את זה בלא הקפדה. מכירין means we like each other. What’s the explanation? The reason is because when I don’t know you I can’t like you. But if I know you, even if you are different from one another, I can like you. Knowing someone is important in order to get along with someone. The more a person knows about someone, the easier it is to connect with him.

Regarding Yaakov telling the Malachim to tell Eisav עם לבן גרתי. Rashi brings two explanations on the word גרתי. The first explanation is that Yaakov was saying to Eisav that it’s not כדאי to hate me because I’m only a גר and the ברכות of הוה גביר לאחיך were not מתקיים. The second explanation is גרתי בגימטריא תרי"ג that I lived with לבן and I still kept all the מצות. But why would עשו care if Yaakov kept the תרי"ג מצות or not to the point where Yaakov felt the need to tell him this information?

We could suggest על דרך דרוש that both these explanations should be read together. The Brachos of Yitzchak were on condition that only if Yaakov keeps the Mitzvos would the Brachos be fulfilled as the Pasuk says והיה כאשר תריד ופרקת עלו מעל צוארך. Therefore, by saying not to hate me because the Brachos were not fulfilled doesn’t mean anything because maybe he didn’t fulfil the conditions. Therefore, the second reason is needed to say that I did keep the Mitzvos and still the Brachos were not fulfilled and therefore there is no reason to hate me. The second explanation is needed to explain the first explanation. Therefore, Yaakov needed to tell Eisav that he kept the תרי"ג מצות in order for the first explanation, that the Brachos were not fulfilled, to be even though he fulfilled the specific conditions.

Rebbetzin Kreindel, the wife of the שו"ת זכר יהוסף and sister of ר' ישעיה (פיק) ברלין would say that it says הוה גביר לאחיך, שהרי לא נתקיימה בי. If you take out the בי, the ב and י from גביר, you are left with גר. The Brachos were not מתקיים בי because Yaakov was only a גר.

Can’t Prove Anything from History

ותמנע היתה פילגש לאליפז בן עשו ותלד לאליפז את עמלק (לו,יב)

Rashi says להודיע גדולתו של אברהם כמה היו תאבים לידבק בזרעו. תמנע wanted to be the פלגש of Avraham but he rejected her so she went to אליפז in order to be דבק בזרעו. One could have said that Avraham was justified in his decision to reject תמנע because after all, עמלק ended up coming from her and the Mechilta writes that the only people that it’s prohibited to take converts from is from עמלק. Out of all nations specifically Amalek we don’t accept as converts because they are so evil so one would say that Avraham Avinu was for sure right not to marry the mother of this nation. Yet the Gemara in Sanhedrin 99b says that there was a טענה on Avraham for not marrying her because maybe had he married her, עמלק would not have been born. The message is that we cannot prove anything from History because perhaps history would have been different had they acted differently. Of course, the Gedolim of each generation make decisions based on the information they have in front of them, but one can’t point to a moment in history and say they were right in how they acted based on what ended up happening because who knows what could have been had they acted differently.

The same idea can be found in the Kuzari in מאמר שני סעיף כד. He discusses the reason why בית שני did not become a גאולה שלימה, and there was no השראת השכינה and ארון, was because most of the תלמידי חכמים did not come up with Ezra and they remained in בבל. The people that went up with the Ezra, the עשרה יוחסין were from the lower end of the Jews and those that remained in Bavel were כסולת נקיה because they were the purest of Jews and Ezra brought up the intermarried Jews. After the חורבן, the Gedolim in Bavel could have said to themselves that they were right to not go up but rather to stay in Bavel because, in the end, nothing came of it. But the Kuzari is pointing out that it’s really the opposite of what we should think that really had they gone up, it would have been a different story and the fact that it only became what it became was because they didn’t go up. This is another prime example that you can’t prove anything from history.

יט כסלו

This Shabbos is י"ט כסלו which is the Yahrzeit of the Maggid Mmezrtich and the day the Baal HaTanya got out of prison and it is a very special day for Chassidus. It is worthwhile to see what Reb Yerucham had to say about Chassidus in the Sefer Daas Chachma Umusar Volume 2 (78) and he writes as follows:

מי שידועה לו שיטת החסידות וקורותיה, איך שבמסירת נפש גדולה קנתה לה מעמד, ואיך שמו נפשם בכפם נושאי דגלה אך ורק בכדי להכניס תורת חסידות בתוך הכלל ישראל, יוכח מזה על ה"לשם שמים" שכונו בזה מיסדיה ומחוקקיה. כי הנה שיטת החסידות עכ"פ אינה תורה חדשה, נוכל לקראה רק בשם הדגשה חדשה (א נייער קנייטש) שמצאו בתורה, וא"כ מה המריצם כ"כ כד כדי להשליך נפשם מנגד בעד הפצת “קנייטש” זה בעולם, וכי לעיכובא הוא, שלא סגי בלאו הכי? אלא זה גופא הוא המופת היותר גדול על שיטת החסידות שהיתה לשם שמים, וכיון שהיה זה לשם שמים הרי זהו “תורה"ק” ותוה"ק הרי כל תג ותג שלה, כל דגש ונטיה קלה מחייב מס"נ וכו'. וכן רואים בענין לימוד ה"מוסר". ר' ישראל מסלנט ז"ל המציא “קנייטש” של מוסר ונלחם בעדו עם כל העולם במסירת נפש, הרעיש עולמות והשליך נפשו מנגד. לכאורה מה כל הרעש הזה בשביל לימוד מוסר של רגעים אחדים ביום, רק רגעים מצומצמים שדרש להקדיש ללימוד זה, שלכאורה לקטנות יחשב בעינינו, והוא ר' ישראל ז"ל מסר כל ימיו וחייו רק לתכלית זה להפיץ לימוד מוסר בעולם, וזה מורה שהיה כלו לשם שמים וראוים אנו מזה מהו “הקנייטש” בתורה וכמה מחייב זה מסירת נפש. גדולים הכירו וירדו לסוף עומקן של דברים, הבינו מה זה “קנייטש” בתורה, וע"כ מסרו נפשם לכוננו ולהכניסו לתוך כלל ישראל, בידעם עד היכן מגיע ענין זה וכמה הוא נוגע בנפש.

Throughout history, different places developed different approaches and methods of learning and דרוש. The דרוש of Morocco was different from the דרוש of Hungary and so and so forth for every place. Each place had its own unique approach. The difference in approach might have to do with what the Gemara in Kidushin 30b says בראתי יצר הרע ובראתי לו תורה תבלין-the Torah is a counterbalance to the Yetzer Hara. People in various cultures needed to hear and experience specific types of דרוש in order to improve themselves and the תבלין in each of these places was catered to the specific יצר הרע of those places and culture. However, nowadays that we live in a global community that on one block you could get Chinese food, French cheese, and Italian wine, therefore the תבלין also needs to be global in order to combat a global יצר הרע. Therefore it became that all the various types of דרוש have come together like we find Chasidus, Mussar, Machshava, all meshed together in order to have a global תבלין in order to combat a global יצר הרע.

The Ramban in the beginning of Parshas Vayera quotes the Rambam in Moreh saying that all the interactions with Avraham Avinu and the Malachim and Yaakov and the שרו של עשו were dreams. The Ramban asks on the Rambam if that were the case, how was it that Yaakov was limping afterward? Avraham Ben HaRambam explains that you see sometimes a person can have a dream and wake up in pain.

In כללי הרמב"ם, it says the following from the רמ"ע מפאנו (ס' קח):

חס ושלום להעלות על הדעת כי הקדוש הראב"ד כיון חלילה למעט בכבוד הרמב"ם. אך חשף זרוע קדשו לחלוק עליו בכח אמיץ בכמה גופי הלכות כי היכי דלא ליסרכו כ"ע אבתריה ללמוד וללמד בדעות מעל ס' המורה וכו'.

So just like the Chassidim and the Misnagdim fought tooth and nail against each other, we find such tension between the Rambam and the Raavad. But at the end of the day they both are part of the same discourse and we hold them both in high regard. The same is with the Chasidim and the Misnagdim.

Yaakov as the Synthesizer

ואתה אמרת היטב איטיב עמך ושמתי את זרעך כחול הים אשר לא יספר מרב (לב,יג)

Rashi writes on the words היטב איטיב the following: היטב בזכותך איטיב בזכות אבותיך. The שבע רועים (Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Yosef, Moshe, Aron, Dovid) correspond to the שבע ספירות and to the days of the week. Yitzchak, who is מידת הגבורה is יום שני and Yaakov who is תפארת is יום שלישי. On the third day of creation, the Pasuk says כי טוב twice, once for day three and once for day two. Rashi gives two reasons why it didn’t say כי טוב on the second day. One was because the מלאכת המים wasn’t completed until day three and something that is not complete is not טוב and also because the חלוקת מים עליונים מתחתונים is not a good thing. Therefore once the מים was completed on day three as well, one כי טוב was for the completion of the מים and the other כי טוב was for the creations on day three. Therefore, the טוב of the second day is really שייך to the יום שלישי. Therefore it’s היטב בזכותך איטיב בזכות אבותיך because the טוב of Yitzchak who corresponds to יום שני was really שייך to יום שלישי which is Yaakov’s day.

Avraham Avinu was the Midah of Chessed, and Yitzchak was the Midah Gevurah. These midos are the opposites of each other, but Yaakov, the Midah of Tiferes brings them together. Regarding תפארת, the RaMak speaks about how the combination of various colors is what creates beauty and he writes the following: צריך שידע עוד כי מפעולות התפארת הפאר וההדר ושמה יעיד על זה. והטעם כי ההדר והיופי הוא מורכב מהלובן והאודם כאמרו דודי צח ואדום. וכן כל הענינים שיורכבו מהאודם והלובן והאש והמים והחמימות והלחות והדין והחסד הם בסוד מידה זו עכ"ל.

Additionally, at this point, Yaakov is trying to tell Eisav that he is the בעל הברכות because he is saying by Yitzchak it doesn’t say the איטב and it only says the איטיב בזכות אבותיך by Yaakov. So the טוב of Yitzchak is only coming out by Yaakov, just like the טוב of יום שני only came out by יום שלישי. But Eisav has the גבורת יצחק but only the יראה aspect of it without the combination of אהבה, meaning the Chessed and therefore it deteriorates and he gives up the בכורה. But Yaakov who synthesizes the יראה of Yitzchak with the חסד, the אהבה of Avraham is able to bring it to the right place and is able to have the בכורה and the Brachos.

Thursday Night Parsha Shiur