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Parashat Toledot

Rabbi Raymond Beyda

Hopeless Case

"Behold I am going to die, so why do I need the birthright?" [Bereshhet 25:30]

The sale of the "firstborn rights" by Esav to Yaakob is one of the most significant transactions in history. Not only did Yaakob purchase the rights to the double portion in his father's estate, more importantly, he acquired the rights to do the holy service in the Temple. One of the glaring questions about this transaction is the reaction of Esav to Yaakob's offer to buy the option to be the holy attendants in G-d's house. You might expect that with so much at stake and with Yaakob's ridiculously low offer of a bowl of lentil soup that Esav would laugh off Yaakob's first offer and begin a long negotiation for the valuable asset, which he owned. Esav instead replies, "I am going to die. What use to me is a birthright that gives me spiritual benefit?"

Our sages teach that Esav was extremely tired from a day of mischief. His misdeeds included 5 of the most serious transgressions a man can do including abduction of another man's wife and murder. He also was a little depressed because the soup that Yaakob was preparing was lentil soup, the soup prepared for mourners, as it was the day that the twins holy grandfather Abraham Abinu A "H died "If even the great Tsadeek, my grandfather is dead, then certainly I will also go the way of all flesh," thought Esav to himself.

The thought of death was unbearable. Esav's reaction was live for today. Enjoy what you can while you still can. The pleasures of this world must be grabbed before life comes to an end. It gave him a sense of hopelessness and despair so strong that he was willing to sell his spiritual eternity for a bowl of "now".

In Pirke Abot our Sages teach that a person should repent one day before one dies. Obviously, no one knows when that day will arrive. The intent of our wise teachers is that a person should reflect on one's actions and repent daily. A sense of sobriety is required for spiritual success. But that seriousness has a limit. One must be careful not to allow reflection and sobriety to become depression and despair.

In today's climate everyone is a little nervous and some are actually very frightened about the prospects of violence, chemical and biological warfare, and the unknown. These possibilities, unfortunately, have become part of our daily lives. What is important, however, is not what can happen and what steps we take to prevent them from happening. What is crucial is that we take the positive rather than the negative road going forward. One must use the fear and the air of uncertainty and say, "One must repent one day before one dies." There is a big difference between the person who when confronted with danger and fear says," pour me a stiff drink' and the person who feels the same way but reaches for his or her Tehillim [Psalms] and begins to pray for divine assistance. Hashem constantly tests the faith of his people and the times we live in are certainly testing the fabric of everyone's belief in the just, kind nature of our maker Let's all consolidate our strength, work together on our Emunah and show Hashem just how much trust and faith we have in His true, just conduct of our world.


One is not permitted to carry an object in the public domain 4 cubits [approx 6-8 feet] on Shabbat. It is also forbidden to transfer an object from the public domain to the private domain or vice versa. One should not go out with a jacket worn over one's shoulders without the arms in the sleeves since this is not the normal way to wear a jacket and it is considered carrying. It is better not to wear gloves on Shabbat for fear one may remove them and carry them in the public domain. Someone who has gum or food in his or her mouth is not permitted to walk 4 cubits in the public domain. [Source Yalkut Yosef Vol 4, Siman 301:1,19,23,28]


The Tifereth HaKodesh says that one who sanctifies oneself in his or her weekday activities finds it easier to accept the holiness of Shabbat. He compares it to one who was in a totally dark room who suddenly goes out into bright light. The person cannot enjoy the beauty and the benefit of the light because of the stark contrast between his dark existence previous to his exposure to the beautiful light. Similarly, a person who is dirty with the impurity of one's sins during the weekdays has difficulty enjoying the spiritual beauty and pleasure of the holy Shabbat. A person should, he suggests, concentrate on pure thoughts, avoid forbidden speech and immorality during the week so as to prepare oneself to enjoy the true beauty of Shabbat.[ Sefer Tifereth Hakodesh page 9b]

Shabbat Shalom

Text Copyright © 2003 Rabbi Raymond Beyda and



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