Friday, November 17, 2017

Rachmana Liba Ba'ei

A sichah I gave via Skype to a Girls High School
Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parashas Toldos

Shalhevet Guest Lecturer Series
Each week at Shalhevet we are privileged to hear divrei Torah from a Rabbi in our community or a visiting guest speaker. The inspirational words they share with us will be written in this column to enhance your Shabbos.
This week Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer, Rabbi in Monsey and author of various seforim, spoke to our students (via Skype!).

Rabbi Bechhofer once asked Rav Simcha Zissel Broide zt"l, the Rosh Yeshiva of Chevron Yeshiva, what Eisav looked like according to Slabodka tradition. Rav Simcha Zissel answered that if Eisav would enter a Beis Medrash (house of Torah study) today, he would look look a Rosh Yeshiva. In the days in which he lived, he looked like a talmid chacham (Torah scholar), perhaps even a tzaddik (righteous person)!

The Arizal says that the reason that Eisav's head merited to be buried in Me'aras Hamachpeila (the Cave of Machpeila) is because he had a spark of holiness in his head. The Torah describes Eisav as being a person who was "ציד בפיו - his game was in his mouth," which we generally understand to be a negative description. However, says the Arizal, he really did have the capacity in his head to be involved in serving Hashem

The Gemara, when describing the two officers of Shaul Hamelech, tells us that they have no portion in Olam Haba (the World to Come). It also describes their greatness in Torah learning: how they were able to analyze 300 laws in one aspect of halacha (Jewish law). Their knowledge was so vast, yet they had no portion! The great Sages of the Gemara were nervous; what about them?! The response given is so powerful: Rachmana liba ba'i - Hashem desires the heart...

Of course a person needs to know and learn, but in the end it's all about how much the Torah we learn affects us and changes us... 

According to the Alter of Slabodka, Eisav was a great talmid chacham. The questions he used to ask his father Yitzchok were sincere; he really wanted to know. But his questions were abstract, the answers didn't change him, didn't move him in any way. They didn't spur him to become one of our Avos (forefathers) in the way that the Torah learning that his brother Yaakov did. Eisav had the moach (the brains), but Yaakov had the lev (the heart), and that's what Hashem really desires from us in the end: to take the Torah we learn and let it mold us, change us and grow with it.

Daily Davening Discourse #12: Re'eh B'Anyainu