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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Yonah Burr

Toldos: We All Need a Bit of Help

Our Sages teach that all the Avos were tested. Each test underlined certain strengths and established certain middos. For example, Avrohom Avinu was tested with the fiery furnace: would he give up his life for Hashem? And "Lech Lecha": to leave everything behind and follow Hashem into the unknown. Would he trust Hashem and follow Him wherever He would take him? These tests actualized these strengths in Avrohom. And he, as our spiritual father, endowed these strengths to us.

This explains how Jewish People were willing to give up their lives for Hashem during our many persecutions. And this explains how sometimes people are taken with the call to move to Eretz Yisroel, Eretz Hakadosha, leaving creature comforts behind to enjoy the Kedusha of the land.

Yaakov was also subjected to tests. The epitome of truth, "stealing" the berachos from his brother Eisav went against his very nature. Yet, aware that it was presently his job, he dutifully followed his mother’s prophetic words.

Still, Yaakov tried as much as possible to mitigate the deceit. "It is I, and Eisav is your first born, I followed your instructions (on other occasions) and brought you this meat..." Words that misrepresent the facts, which, under normal conditions could be considered ‘half truths’ at best -- were the perfect rejoinder under the circumstances when his challenge was minimizing the lie. Perhaps this exercise solidified Yaakov’s commitment to truth even more, and perhaps the need to strive for spirituality even through convoluted, unconventional means brought out this concept for us, endowing us with the inspiration and ability to fight for what is right.

Whatever the test was, the desired result was achieved, and passed on to us, the Jewish Nation, descendants of Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov.

What was the test of Yitzchok? Rav Dessler writes that one of the tests was actually the giving of the berachos in this week’s Parsha. Yitzchok sensed that the son standing before him was more refined and spiritual than Eisav was: "The voice is that of Yaakov" and Yitzchok originally wanted to give the berachos to Eisav. Rav Dessler explains that Yitzchok represented the middah of Din, strict justice. He sensed that Eisav, who was not on the loftiest of levels, indeed needed the extra help of the berachos to stay on the right path. But he felt that Yaakov, who was clearly the more righteous son, should have the opportunity to strive and grow on his own, with the strength of his conviction, without help or external support. That was how Yitzchok himself had grown, by carving out a new path and serving Hashem without any outside help. Yitzchok’s test was actually to look beyond this worldview and acknowledge that even a tzaddik needs the extra help of mercy, and the encouragement and support of the berachos. This episode validated the notion of adding chessed and rachamim to the din, and viewing the world through a softer lens.

May we all merit to view each other with an ‘ayin tov’ generously, and give each the benefit of the doubt. And the more we practice this middah regarding others, the more we can expect Hashem to act towards us!

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

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