By Rabbi Dovid Nussbaum
The Ultimate Struggle
Rivka was perplexed. Although she davened for children, there was a tremendous commotion occurring inside her which she didn’t understand. She approached the Beis Medrash of Shem to ask him to explain what is taking place. Shem received a Divine message that two children of opposite nature are in Rivka. One, Eisav, only wants to pursue a life of evil, serving idols. While the other, Yaakov, desires to study Torah and become closer to Hashem. Therefore, they were locked in combat over which type of life is the correct path of life, this world with all of its trappings, or the next world where a person will bask in the radiance of the Divine Presence?
As we know, Eisav remained evil and never repented for his corrupt and immoral behavior. However, perhaps our condemnation of Eisav is unfair. After all, he was born with a propensity towards wickedness and he was unable to control himself. Yaakov, on the other hand, was the ideal child always wanting to further his education and please his parents.
Obviously, even though Eisav was not going to live with the same guidelines as Yaakov, nonetheless he still had the capacity to function within a certain realm of conduct which would fulfill his minimum responsibility. Eisav was not going to be the unassuming next door neighbor that places your newspaper in front of the door. Neither was he going to offer to clean the snow off your windshield on a frosty winter morning. However, within his ability to be non-offensive and somewhat pleasant, that was his built-in limitation.
Perhaps, the bigger struggle is not just for the individual with limited scope and capacity, rather the person who has to deal with such a person, he has to train himself to cope. Although in reference to Eisav, there was mortal danger since he was an expert marksman and therefore a lethal threat to Yaakov. Nonetheless, Yaakov contended with his wayward brother to the best of his ability.
When Eliezer came to Lavan and Besuel to explain to them that Rivka was appropriate for Yitzchok, he didn’t know what to expect. After all, they were idol worshippers and certainly they did not subscribe to Avrohom’s brand of religion, monotheism. Nonetheless, at the end of the conversation they both agreed that Hashem’s providence was visible. After all, what were the chances that Eliezer would immediately locate someone from Avrohom’s family and she would be an excellent match for Yitzchok? Undoubtedly this demonstrated that Hashem was orchestrating the events.
Once when the Chofetz Chaim was travelling, he was in the same dining room with a former soldier in the Czar’s army. This man had been conscripted many years earlier as a child and was torn away from his family. Therefore he had scant knowledge of Judaism and was not a practicing Jew. The Chofetz Chaim wanted to strike up a conversation with him and try to somewhat warm him up to follow the many rules and regulations we have to keep. As he got up to talk to him, others tried to dissuade him from doing so. After all, he definitely was not interested in a rabbinic personality talking to him. However, the Chofetz Chaim approached him and mentioned to him in a very soft tone of voice how difficult it must have been all those years away from his family and friends. But now he was together with fellow Jews and they would assist him to discover his lost religion. This mighty warrior broke down and cried. The Chofetz Chaim remarked that words that emanate from the heart can enter the heart of another. When we understand to accept others at their level, then they sense our sincerity and respond in kind.
A BYTE FOR SHABBOS
Why did Yaakov’s blessing from his father need to come in such an unusual manner? Yaakov was the progenitor of all future generations of Jews that their actions would give power and coherence to the entire world. Therefore, a blessing which would be of such monumental significance, had to originate from a Divine source.