Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Just Be Straight, That is the Real Wisdom

One of my favorite expressions in English is "hoisted by his own petard".  Even if you don't know what a petard is, its a great sounding expression.  In fact, a petard is a small bomb with a short, slow burning fuse.  Well, its supposed to be slow burning, but mistakes happen.  Now that expression really presents quite the visual, no?  And much better than simply saying, "Injured by the device with which he intended to injure others." (yawn)

The Beis HaLevi asks why, when presented with "the voice is the voice of Yaakov, the hands are the hands of Eisav" (b'reishis 27:22), Yitzchak Avinu simply concluded that it was, indeed, Eisav.  There seems to be two bits of contradictory evidence here with two equally plausible explanations (Yaakov with disguised hands or Eisav with a disguised voice).  The Beis HaLevi answers that Eisav, being the sneak that he was, assumed that Yaakov wa\ also a sneak and would try to steal his bracha just like he had "stolen" his birthright.  Therefore, Eisav told his father, "When I return, I will speak like Yaakov -- being polite, using HaShem's name, all that stuff.  That way you'll know its me."  Eisav figured that if Yaakov tried anything, he would naturally disguise both his hands and his voice; ie, Yaakov would speak gruffly.  Therefore, says, the Beis HaLevi, this posuk should be read as a simple statement by Yitzchak Avinu acknowledging (and revealing to us) the nefarious signs of Eisav.  So why, in fact, did Yaakov Avinu not disguise his mode of talking?  Very likely Yaakov Avinu appreciated that his brother was going to do something sneaky and even set some sort of trap, so he decided to just speak normally.  That, says the Beis HaLevi, is why Onkelos translates "b'mirma" (usually translated as craftily, sneaky) as "b'chach'm'sa" -- with wisdom.

The Torah presents Eisav to us as a hunter, while Yaakov was a simple talmid chacham spending as much time as possible in beis medrash.  It seems from this Beis HaLevi, that the Torah is not just telling us their occupations, rather it is telling how how they viewed the world.  Yaakov Avinu saw the world as a great yeshiva and his job was to sit an learn; to draw wisdom from every action and every moment.  Eisav, on the other hand, saw the world as a field filled with game and himself as the hunter.  Everything about Eisav was "kochi v'otzem yadi".  Talk about hoisted by his own petard.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…