Classics and Beyond Chukas – Yisrael’s Potential: Sheim Mi`Shmuel

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    Classics and Beyond Chukas – Yisrael’s Potential:
    ויאמר ה’ אל משה ואל אהרן בהר ההר על גבול ארץ אדום לאמר יאסף אהרן אל עמיו
    Hashem said to Moshe and Aharon at Hor HaHar on the border of the land of Edom, saying, “Aharon shall be brought to his people” (Bamidbar 20:24).
    Rashi explains that the location, the border of Edom, is stressed to indicate that the Jews connected with the wicked people of Eisav; because of this wrongdoing, their venture was unsuccessful and Aharon died. Earlier in this perek (V. 14-21), Moshe sent messengers requesting passage through the land of Edom, who were the descendants of Eisav, yet this petition was rebuffed.
    There are several questions here. First, the pasuk indicates that they joined with Eisav, but how can this be true if we know that they were rebuffed? And even if we are to understand that they were being blamed for attempting to come close to Eisav, we know that they made similar peaceful overtures to the nations of Moav and Sichon when requesting passage, so why were they held accountable at this time?
    One simple explanation may be that after the first messengers were sent with their request (pasuk 14-17) and were rebuffed (pasuk 18), the Bnei Yisrael made a subsequent request, as it says in pasuk 19, “Va’yomru eilav Bnei Yisrael – And the Children of Israel said to him [the king of Edom],” which was also turned down (pasuk 20). It seems that they ran this operation behind Moshe’s back. When Moshe’s attempt failed, he did not try again. However, the Yidden did not give up but tried once more. Thus, it seems that there was some sort of effort on the part of the Yidden to join and come close to the people of Eisav.
    And that is why Aharon died.
    According to the Sheim Mi’Shmuel (670), the problem was actually in the terminology the original messengers used. They said (V. 14), “Ko amar achicha Yisrael – So said your brother Yisrael.” They were invoking their kinship and trying to curry favor by saying, “We are your long-lost brothers.” They were indeed trying to join and come close.
    The difficulty with saying this is that the Torah itself describes Edom as our brother! We are enjoined not to hate the people of Edom: “Lo sesa’eiv Adomi ki achicha hu – You shall not reject an Edomite for he is your brother” (Devarim 23:8). If we are supposed to be “brotherly” toward Edom, how can the Jews be faulted for describing themselves to them as brothers?
    The Sheim Mi`Shmuel explains that even though Yaakov and Eisav were brothers – since they were the biological offspring of the same parents – Yisrael and Edom have no relationship.
    The name Yisrael was given to Yaakov after he spent the night fighting with Eisav’s malach. The angel told him, “Lo Yaakov yei’amer od shimcha ki im Yisrael ki sarisa im Elokim ve’im anashim vatuchal – No longer will it be said that your name is Yaakov, but Yisrael, for you have striven with the Divine and with man and have overcome” (Bereishis 32:29).
    The name Yisrael represents the ability to handle all challenges. To struggle with life and its temptations and prevail. To deal with any adversity and succeed. This is what Yaakov demonstrated that night, and was therefore named Yisrael – one who strives and overcomes.
    We are all born as Bnei Yaakov, but we have the potential to activate the quality of Bnei Yisrael, which lies within us. It is this innate potential that separates Yisrael by a quantum leap from Eisav and his descendants. We are capable of so much more than others. We can prevail in every struggle.
    When they brought the message, “Ko amar achicha Yisrael – So said your brother Yisrael,” they lost sight of the fact that there is no connection between Yisrael and Edom.
    Yaakov and Edom are brothers, and Yaakov cannot reject Edom. But Yisrael and Edom do not even play in the same ballpark. We play in the majors; they play in the peewee league.
    In failing to grasp the concept that the potential of Yisrael is unlimited and that he cannot possibly be a brother to a mere Edom, what should have been two distinct and disparate entities were now coming closer. To speak of Edom and Yisrael in the same breath was a way of evening the playing field, which constituted a joining, a coming close, as Rashi writes. This caused the tzaddik to die.
    We must never lose sight of our potential!


    Can yisroel keep away from the tumas and middos of Edom starting from the internet and all its doing to klal yisroel hurting our kiddusha and ruchnius etc…. To everything else including toiaiva and abortion and tznius etc…..



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