Friday, November 20, 2009

The Best Sicha Ever, on Parshas Toldos

Before I begin, there are a few things you must know.
  1. I didn't know if I should write this, since it could very well be my Dvar Torah at my Shabbos Day meal. Then I realized it's selfish, because most of my readers will not be eating with me, so why deny them a great sicha, just so I can wow a few others?
  2. This may not in fact be the best sicha ever on Parshas Toldos. I love it, and it is definitely high up there. I titled my post that just so you would open up the link from google reader.
  3. It's pretty late at night, and I only just finished learning it over the phone (with someone who reads my blog, by the way). I really should spend more time thinking about the best way to summarize it, and decide which points to emphasize, but I'm not, and I haven't.
  4. This is one of my 'tradition sichas'. No matter how busy I am in the week, there are some special sichos scattered throughout the year that I must learn, year after year. This is one of those.
  5. Whatever I write on the sicha, it's not doing it justice.
  6. I'm getting carried away with this numbering thing.
  7. See what I mean?

Rivkah was pregnant, and there was a bitter battle taking place inside her. Yakov and Eisav were fighting over their inheritance.
What did they stand to inherit? Everything. This entire physical world, and the infinite World To Come.
The Rebbe asks, "What was the fight about? Eisav wanted this world, and Yakov wanted the next. Simple."
(This question is the most beautiful critique of the classical commentaries on this episode. If you don't appreciate the subtlety and beauty of this: sigh. It's not you. It must be me. I haven't transmitted it to you properly. It is my fault, for which I'm truly sorry. It is the most magnificent piece of art, and with my feeble description of it, you are not appreciating it.)

Here's another question the Rebbe poses: How can it be that Eisav was a wicked person? Okay, after he was born, he made some wrong decisions in his life, and left the path his righteous father and grandfather led him on. But in the womb??? It says he was drawn towards places of Avoda Zara, before he was even born! How could the holy Yitchak beget a child who has the nature and inclinations, from birth to be an evil person?
Besides for this problem, if we say Eisav was drawn towards evil as a baby, that he had an innate tendency for bad, how could this possibly be fair? What ever happened to free choice? Can we really say that someone is a bad person B'Etzem? Essentially he is evil, and therefore he makes decisions to do bad things??

The Rebbe explains that there are two types of Avoda: the Chassid HaMeula, and the Kovesh Es Yitzroi. Someone involved with only Kedusha, and then the person who is involved with the world, overcoming both the bad around him, and the bad within him. Included in the Avoda of the Kovesh Es Yitzroi is the avoda of Tshuva. Not only does a person subdue his inclination when thoughts and desires to do bad arise, but even if a person acts on those passions, and transgresses, he can right his ways, and through tshuva regain control of his Yetzer.

Everything we do, it is only because the possiblity for it was given to us by our Avos.
So where do we get the strength to do Tshuva? We cannot possibly say that the Avos acted on bad desires, or even if they had any bad desires at all!
The Rebbe explains that although the Avos had no internal conflicts with which to overcome, they most definitely had external struggles with the world around them. The reason they were able to overcome obstacles around them was because of their strong connection to Hashem. That is what gave them the strength. This strong connection was bequeathed to us, that even if we fall so low and do Aveiros, our connection to Hashem is strong enough to shine through, and help us do Tshuva.

Let's now take a look at Yitzchak. As on of the Avos, he had both ways for Avoda: Chassid HaMeula and Kovesh Es Yitzroi. When he had children, however, each one became the epitome and poster child for one of the two avodos.

Now guess which of the twins had the purpose of dealing with the world and with all the bad and cleaning it all up, to make a dwelling place for Hashem here?
It was Eisav, of course.

(Here's where the Rebbe comes in with an astounding chiddush. A fresh, new way of looking at things.)
When the Torah tells us that Eisav was drawn towards Avoda Zara, even as a baby, this is a compliment! It is not bad! He was not bad! He had a tendency for bad; not for doing bad things, but for overcoming and refining the bad things.
Of course, because of free choice, he messed himself over, and got too sunken into the very world he was supposed to refine.

So why did he want Olam Haba as well, and Yakov want Olam Hazeh as well?
First Yakov: If your goal is to reach the highest elevations for yourself, part of doing that is to work with the world. Working to refine the world actually helps you get to higher levels in Kedusha.
Now Eisav: If your goal is to refine the world and overcome the bad, you must also 'visit Olam Haba' from time to time. You must get the power and strength of Torah, of spirituality, and of Yiddishkeit, in order to properly refine the world.

What happened in the end, though?
Eisav became a Rasha, and it was Yakov who received Yitzchak's brachos.
The only way to refine the world, and not get pulled in too deep from the bad influences you are working on to overcome, is if your main priority is Torah. Like Yakov. You can't have the 'olam haba' as your secondary goal. First you must be a Yoshev Ohel, and learn lots of Torah and become steeped in spirituality. Only then will you have the strength to work with the world, and stay above it, at the same time.

Yakov therefore received the brachos, and took upon himself the responsibility for both types of avoda, in both of the worlds.


This sicha can be found in chelek chof, sicha beis, page 108. I encourage you to learn it for yourself. You'll see that I didn't do it justice, and there are some more points I didn't include here.