A guest post by Rabbi Aaron Fink (my father), Dean of Ateres Bais Yaakov on Monsey NY. Part of a weekly Dvar Torah (Torah “Thought”) series.
Yaakov, Eisav & The Simple Things in Life
This week’s parsha presents the fundamental distinction between Klal Yisrael and the Umos HaOlam, defined by Yaakov Avinu and Eisav Harasha. Exploring these differences can help us understand what defines us and which values to seek and transmit to our children. One insight is especially relevant to the contemporary milieu.
Yaakov buys the Bichorah, the birthright, from Eisav for a bowl of soup. Upon receipt of such we are told—Vayochal, Vayeisht, Vayakom, Vayeilach, Vayivez: he ate, drank, got up, left and mocked. The mifarshim derive powerful messages from his behavior. The Kli Yakar notes that this phrase is the makor for the medrash that says Eisav committed 5 serious Aveiros on that day replete with heretical, immoral and antisocial behavior.
On a simpler level, however, one can come to understand from this phrase the superficiality of an Eisav which is mirrored by American life today. Eisav was constantly on the run: fast food, quick drink and a “get up and go”, instant, disposable lifestyle was all he made time for. There was no desire or effort to stop and smell the roses and appreciate what was truly his. Relationships were temporary and insights superficial. Even the gift of life grew tired. As a result he did not thoroughly deliberate his mission in life or his connection to Hashem. He became cynical and scorned the Bechora, his spiritual birthright. Torah and Mitzvos became a burden to be unloaded rather than a joy to be celebrated.
Unfortunately, these attitudes can creep into the contemporary Torah home. We expect instant gratification and wish for automatic success–effortlessly and with instant messaging! We get wrapped up in the here and now and anticipate immediate results with our children’s education, shalom Bayis and professional ambitions. Klal Yisrael should know better. When it comes to growing in Torah, Mitzvos, and personal development, the Gemarah tells us, “Yagatah Umatzasa Ta’amin”, if one labors and achieves, that is believable.
Yaakov Avinu personifies such growth. He was an “Ish Tam Yoshev Ohalim-a pure man who sat in the tent”, constantly pondering, deliberating and striving to serve Hashem with his entire being and as a result he achieved. It is this model that fuels the formation of the quintessential Jewish family, the 12 shevatim. His success yielded true lasting Simcha, the joy of accomplishment. That is the true Simchas Hachayim that we should all strive for and IY”H receive.