Toldos…As Kosher As Its Source

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“When Esav was forty years old, he took as a wife Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite; and they were a source of spiritual rebellion to Yitzchok and to Rivka.”

Bereishis 26:34-35

Esav was forty when he married. Up to that point, his focus in life was living vicariously by seducing married women from their husbands. Turning forty, however, he wanted to show off to his parents. Just like Yitzchok married at forty, so too would Esav. Due to his nature, he couldn’t do it in a holy way and had to give into his desires. He married Hittite women. 

 “Esav is compared to a swine that, when it lies down, stretches out its cloven hoof, as if to say, ‘see, I am a kosher animal!’ Similarly, the princes of Esav rob and extort while they pretend to be honorable…so it was with Esav.”

Rashi on the Medrash

Just as the Bnei Yisroel are imprinted with the Avos and Imahos, so too the nations of the world are imprinted with the unholy actions of their sources. Esav’s robbery and extortion was passed to his children and all of their subsequent generations. 

Near the end of the sidra, we see that Esav married a Yishmaelite. The Rashbam highlights that Esav did this only to ingratiate himself with Yitzchok and regain a blessing he felt he had lost because of being married to Hittite women. 

Even when Esav attempts to do something that outwardly appears good, he really only has selfish intent and the action itself is wholly treif. It’s all about benefiting himself, especially when it comes to the ultimate harm of Klal Yisroel (this is why he planned to kill Yaakov once his aveilus for his father had concluded). 

Fast forward to society today, and we still have this problem. 

Before the War, it was considered assur for a yid to move to America. It was considered bereft of yiddishkeit and a place where yidden went to go off the derech. There was no mesorah, no Gedolim, no tzaddikim to keep a standard of kedusha. After the War, when much of the communities Galicia and Europe were decimated, America appeared to be one of the few safe havens for survivors. 

In the past seventy years, much has been done to rebuild yiddishkeit in a nation lacking Torah values. While there are bastions of Torah learning and development, there has also been the growth of a modern approach to Orthodoxy, embracing practices and leniencies that would never before have been tolerated or accepted within a community. 

We have been on a downward spiral of observance as a people.

The number of yidden lacking meticulous observance in kashrus or shabbos, or ch”v, off the derech, has dramatically increased. Even those who keep the basics of observant life have taavos in areas that they fail to see as an issue, such as television and assimilation into goyish society. 

To be sanctified means to be set apart. 

To accept Har Sinai means to accept Har Sinas. 

Serving HaShem requires mesiras nefesh; both accepting and embracing that we will be hated by all those that don’t follow HaShem. 

There is no physical means by which Klal Yisroel will have a victorious win that lasts, nor should there be. Since we are not governed by mazal, we do not have the power it brings. We instead are governed by HaShem, which also implies our weapons are spiritual in nature. 

This is a very good thing. As Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk points out, Esav was born first but Yaakov held onto his heel. We also have this power. Esav will have the immediate and initial victory in this realm, but the Tzaddik can annul his authority and prevent his next steps. The “hand” grasping the “heel” of Esav is precisely this – the Tzaddik has the final call on a situation and can prevent events from transpiring.

This is accomplished via spiritual working with the upper heavens, not by negotiating with politicians, protests, and rallies. 

In every generation Esav will strike when Yisroel appears weak and will attempt to finish us off.

Make no mistake. Esav is not our friend.

The Tzaddik holding him back, according to Rebbe Elimelech, “causes great mercy to be awakened to aid the Jewish people.” This cycle is to be repeated every generation until the final one. We would be foolish to forget this and think that we can influence and be complicit with Esav at any moment. 

This is a reality of the world. We need to stop expecting acceptance and tolerance. These are slogans of the rashayim that want justification for their many aveiros. We can’t use the same argument and be able to hold them accountable. 

We need to be above that. 

To be better. 

To be holy. 

We need to accept that Esav is an opposition to us. He married into Yishmael. No matter what actions he attempts to take, he has no yetzer tov. He will not do good simply because it’s the right thing to do. There must always be a selfish motive. And since his intentions are treif, all the actions related to it are also treif and cannot be trusted. 

Let’s stop fooling ourselves that Esav cares. It doesn’t and we can’t expect it to. It’s time to ignore Esav, to stop ingratiating ourselves with evil, and to operate wholly independent. 

It’s time to stop pretending that we belong here.

America has been a safe haven for temporary season for us to rebuild, but in order for Moshiach to come, HaShem will force us out of chutz l’aaretz and back home. The way that is accomplished is the same method done in every other nation, as told by the Baal Shem HaKadosh.

As we collect sparks of kedusha to return to Eretz Yisroel for rebuilding the Beis HaMikdash, sinas will increase as the kedusha is removed from the aino yehudim. This lack of kedusha from us absorbing their sparks causes them to feel opposition. Since they are from Esav, their core intention is self-centered and to give into base desires. It’s just their nature. And so, without these sparks to elevate them, they can only function on a base level. HaShem made this design for us to travel from nation to nation, collecting all their sparks, until we return home. Paro knew of this and levied rules against mitzvos and limud haTorah by brutal work in order to slow this process. 

In the end, the world is destined for a final Temple. Klal Yisroel is destined to be shomer mitzvos and Torah.

And Esav…is destined for what he’s been sowing for thousands of years…