Man on a Mission

Rav Natanel Lebowitz – 5768

After years of being unable to have a child, Rivka has a very difficult pregnancy. However, instead of seeking medical help, she goes to the religious leaders of the time for advice; she was confused not by the physical pain but rather by what she considered a religious anomaly. As Rashi (25:22) explains, when Rivka would walk past a beis medrash, the womb stirred as if the baby wanted to come out; and when she walked by a house of avoda zara, the womb also stirred as if the baby wanted to come out. How can the same baby want to run to a House of Study and also want to embrace idolatry? Hashem clarifies for Rivka that she actually has two babies in her womb: Ya’akov is destined to spend his time in study and Esav is destined to spend his time in the house of idol worship. [I once met someone in shul that had two boys. One sat next to his father and davened very nicely while the other wreaked havoc. The father quipped, “I too have a Ya’akov and Esav.”]


How can it be that already from the womb it was destined that Esav was going to turn out a rasha. What happened to his bechira? Did he even have a fighting chance to turn out okay or was he fated to play the rasha role from his very conception?


I heard the following idea from Rabbi Carmi Ingber.  Esav really did have a fighting chance. Hashem’s plan for the world was that Ya’akov was to have six tribes and Esav was to have six tribes. They were to undertake two very different responsibilities, both of them crucial to fulfilling Hashem’s “master plan.” Ya’akov and his half of Am Yisrael were to spend their time in the beis medrash. They were to dedicate their lives to studying Torah. However, while they were in the beis, Esav and his crew were to be out in the world spreading the word of Hashem to those who didn’t realize His greatness. Being in the beis medrash is crucial for the world’s existence but someone needs to take care of the outside world as well. This was to be Esav’s role. He was not stirring to get out of the womb to worship avoda zara but rather to enlighten those who were in the house of idolatry that there is a more correct way to live their lives. When Esav decided that he did not want this role, Ya’akov took responsibility for the void that he left. Therefore, Ya’akov had all 12 shevatim: those that were beis medrash bound and those that were kiruv bound.


This idea also answers many other questions that surround the story of the berachos. After Ya’akov “steals” the berachos from Esav, Yitzchak says to Esav that there are no berachos left. Let’s say that Esav really fooled Yitzchak into thinking that he was a tzaddik. But even if that is true, how could Yitzchak not realize the righteousness of Ya’akov? If Ya’akov would not have moved in on Esav’s beracha, would he have been left with no beracha the same way that Esav was now left with no beracha? The Torah tells us that Ya’akov spent his days learning Torah. Why would Yitzchak not have given him anything? If we look again, we see that before Ya’akov leaves to Lavan’s house, Yitzchak calls Ya’akov in to get “birchas Avraham” (28:1). Yitzchak had always intended to give this beracha to Ya’akov. The birchas Avraham was the beracha designated for the one who would remain in the beis medrash. The beracha that Ya’akov “stole,” a beracha that was filled with physical wellbeing and dominion over enemies, was the beracha designated for those who undertook the role of going out into the world and making the outside world closer to Hashem. Ya’akov had to take this beracha with trickery to show his ability to deal with the difficult characters that he would encounter in his kiruv work.


This also explains why Rachel was supposed to marry Ya’akov and Leah was supposed to marry Esav. The Torah later says “Vatezei Dina bas Leah” (and Dina the daughter of Leah went out – 34:1). Rashi comments that the Torah calls her bas Leah and not bas Ya’akov because Dina was similar to her mother in that they were both “Yatzaniyos”, people who went out. Leah was supposed to marry the brother who had the role of being out in the world and spreading the word of Hashem. When that role fell to Ya’akov, so did the wife that was to help him fulfill that role.


Hashem’s original plan for the world order was that Ya’akov and Esav were to work together to bring Hashem into the world but Esav used his bechira to opt out. Hashem puts everyone in the world in order to play a role in bringing Him into it. Very often in life Hashem sends us many signs for us to see what He put us on the world to do. Are we even looking for those signs? Are we on the road toward fulfilling our mission?


Yehi ratzon milifnei Avinu shebashamayim that we should realize our importance in His world order and carry out our responsibilities to the best of our abilities.


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