Torah Fax

Friday, November 21, 2004 - 28 MarCheshvan, 5765
Torah Reading: Toldot (Genesis 25:19 - 28:9)
Candle Lighting time: 4:21 PM
Shabbat ends: 5:23 PM
We bless the new Month of Kislev

Reflections

Our Parshah tells the famous story of Jacob, at the behest of his mother, disguising himself, and misrepresenting himself to his father Isaac, who wanted to bless Esau before his death. Instead, Isaac gave the blessings to Jacob, thinking he was really Esau.

Understandably, Esau was upset at having been cheated out of the blessings that he imagined belonged to him. But Esau was not merely upset, he plotted to murder his brother Jacob. When Rebecca discovered that Jacob's life was in danger, she sent him away to her brother Laban.  Rebecca advised Jacob to stay with Laban: "until your brother's fury turns away; until your brother's anger turns away from you, and he forgets that which you have done to him."

Commentators wonder why Rebecca repeated the words "until your brother's anger turn away from you"? One answer is that just as Esau hated Jacob, Jacob also harbored negative feelings towards Esau.

Granted, Jacob's feelings were justified in light of Esau's blatant rejection of all the moral teachings for which his parents and grandparents stood. In addition, Esau had sold his "birthright" to Jacob that meant that he rejected all that being Isaac's first-born son stood for. The distress he caused his parents caused Jacob to harbor negative feelings towards Esau. But, as the wisest of all men declared, "As water reflects the image of a face, so the heart of man corresponds to the heart of his fellow man" (Proverbs 27:19). This suggests that when a person has negative feelings towards another, that individual will likewise experience negative feelings towards him in return.

So when Rebecca told Jacob to go to her brother Laban, her motive was twofold: First she wanted him to be far from Esau, lest he carry out his evil designs against Jacob. But Rebecca also wanted to heal Jacob's negativity towards Esau. The distance between Jacob and Esau would give them both time to "chill out" and allow their feelings to subside.

Thus, when Jacob asked his mother: "How will I know that Esau's anger has subsided?" His mother told him: "When the anger you carry will depart from you, then you can be sure that your brother Esau has forgotten what you did to him, and no longer has animosity against you." As long as you have not expunged the negative feelings from your system, it will be reflected in Esau's attitude towards you. But once you purify your heart, Esau's heart will also soften.

The Talmud relates that the reason we are in exile is because of the lack of love for our fellow Jew. The negative energy that is generated by the hatred and animosity that we see directed against one another prevents us from getting out of exile into a world of peace and holiness.

The way to change this is to begin with ourselves. Even if we were justified in our anger against another, we must never allow that anger to seethe in us. The anger should be directed into a course of action geared toward correcting the mistakes of the other, but never should the anger be allowed to remain in our conscious and even subconscious mind. By expunging any and every trace of hatred towards our brothers and sisters, we will also make it easier to have them get rid of their negative energy. This will then have a ripple effect on the entire world. 

This doesn't mean that we should never take strong action to defend ourselves, change the other person, etc. when it is possible to do so. And we are not talking about the vile anti-Semites that threaten the existence of the Jewish people. It does mean that when we've exhausted all other avenues-or alongside them-to change the attitudes of others towards us, we ought to cleanse ourselves of those negative feelings.

Putting the above in a more positive light, the positive energy that we generate by purging ourselves of negative thoughts about others, will prepare us for the Redemption, by making our hearts, minds and souls receptive to the revelation of G‑dly light in the
     
     
Moshiach Matters

A person must be zealous in his faith in Moshiach's arrival, one of the 13 Principles of our Faith.
It is fitting for one to have a strong desire, a great love and a boundless devotion to the extent that he will say, "Will I be given Redemption in my days?" Just as one has a desire which is so strong that all his thoughts and longings are totally captivated by this desire, so should one desire the Era of the Redemption in order to reach perfection in body and soul. With this complete desire, one fulfills the "duty of desiring the salvation." (Shevet Musar, chapter 51) (L'CHAIM)  
Moshiach - It’s a Jewish issue. For more info, visit www.moshiach.com

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