Thursday, November 19, 2009

Vision, part 1

First of all, I must say that Toldos is a powerhouse parsha with tons of great sichas and talking points. I won't be able to get through all of them this week for you, but trust me that it's a favorite of pulpit Rabbis everywhere. Two of the greatest sichas of all time (a personal list of approximately 20 sichas from Likkutei Sichos (and no, I didn't actually compile a list, though maybe I should) are right here in our very own Parshas Toldos.

The Torah tells us that Yitzchak, in his old age, had lost the strength of his eyesight. Although he was 123, he still lived for another 57 years. A blind person is considered like dead, and it probably brought with it hardships and pain for Yitzchak. The flip side was of course the wonderful opportunity for our forefather Yaakov to take Eisav's blessings for himself. All he needed to do was to put on a furry coat, and have his mother cook up some goat just the way Yitzchak likes his deer.

Rashi gives three explanations for why Yitzchak became blind:
  1. From the smoke of the incense burning that Eisav's idol-worshipping wives
  2. During the Akeida, the heavens opened up, and angels saw the sacrifice about to take place. Their tears fell from their eyes into Yitzchak's, blinding him.
  3. To give Yakov the blessings.
In a great sicha, the Rebbe explains why all three are needed, and why this explanation is the first one, why this is the second, and why this is the third one. It's pure genius how the Rebbe rips this Rashi apart, down to its core.
At the end of the sicha, the Rebbe points out a powerful lesson we can take from the third explanation. Hashem chose to blind Yitzchak for the last 57 years of his life, instead of simply telling him that his son Eisav was a Rasha. This wouldn't have been a total surprise to Yitzchak, either. Hashem wouldn't have needed to say, "Yitzchak, you better sit down for this...". Yitchak already knew Eisav's wives served Avoda Zara, and that Eisav spoke coarsely and didn't mention G-d, which is why Yitchak remarked that it sounded like Yakov speaking.
So too, we must distance ourselves from speaking any sort of Loshon Hara about another Jew.

That's the sicha in a nutshell, but not the main point of this post. Well, fine. There are two main points, and that was the first.

The sicha can be found in chelek Tes Vov, the third sicha.