Vertluch: Parshas Toldos


Parshas Toldos begins recounting the birth of Yaakov and Esav. When describing Esav the pasuk states that he came out of the womb ‘extremely hairy and red’. Rashi (25) comments that he was completely developed with hair, as someone who was already a mature adult. Rashi notes that he was referred to as Edmoni because it was a sign that he would grow up and become a murderer.

Ba’al Haturim says that Esav was born complete, he was physically mature. He then adds that the numerical value of Esav is 276 which is equivalent to the numerical value of the word Sholom, which means peace.

Later in the parsha Yitzchok said to Esav that ‘by your sword you shall live’; his sword would be his bread and butter. This seems a bit odd because that is the exact opposite of the numerical value of his name, equating to peace. What can be an explanation as to how these two seemingly opposite thoughts can be reconciled?

Rav Simcha Zisel Zt’l says that the sholom over here isn’t referring to the peace as in living in harmony amongst others but rather it refers to the peace that he was at with himself. He was content with what he was doing and the level he was currently on. He had absolutely no desire to improve on anything.

Such was the recipe for a lifelong path of utter failure and disaster. If a person’s ears are closed to other people’s ideas, criticisms and suggestions, then such a person walks around as if he has no need to make himself better; these types of people will ultimately end up murderers. Just as Esav was born complete in his physical sense he also was at peace with himself-and complete-as to the direction he was headed; he was born like that; he was at peace with who he was.

A person has to always keep his eyes and ears open for suggestions. Criticism can be accepted if given over properly and one should never shun from it.

R’ Moshe Feinstein, Zt’l, once wrote a teshuva which was viewed by some as controversial. To the extent, that there was a certain individual who wrote a whole entire pamphlet against the teshuva arguing with Reb Moshe. It would be one thing had he attacked the halachic principle alone but this person had also attacked Reb Moshe personally. It was written very harshly and border lined nasty. His family thought that Reb Moshe would be hurt had he seen that kuntris so they tried to keep it away from him. But of course he heard about it and he wanted to see it. They tried every excuse, but he was persistent. Finally, he got a hold of it and he read the whole entire pamphlet. When he was done he simply dropped it on the table and he said ‘eh, it’s nothing.’ He wanted to see it for perhaps he misunderstood something and he thought he may have erred in his halachic view. He didn’t care if it was sandwiched between rubbish and personal insults. He wanted to hear the truth and was open to criticism because he demanded perfection. This was the complete opposite of Esav who didn’t want to hear anything from anybody.

The message here is clear. No one is happy with where they are today; we all strive for greatness. Deep down inside each and every one of us yearns to become greater and greater.

The best advice I was ever given was from a Rebbi of mine in Eretz Yisroel. As I left his house for the airport to return to America and begin a new journey of life, he said to me: ‘remember, you’re going to start dating now and the most important aspect to look for in a girl is growth. Ask yourself and then ask her-are you looking to grow? To continue growing even after the wedding bells die down….that’s the most important question’.

We cannot stop yearning. We must keep moving forward. A little bit today and a little more tomorrow will ultimately lead us in the proper direction where we will show Hashem that we are ready for him to take us out of this terrible galus and escort into Eretz Yisroel, speedily in our days.