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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.


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