שבת טעם החיים תולדות תשע”ב
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Toldos 5772
Why was he called Yaakov?
וְאַֽחֲרֵי־כֵ֞ן יָצָ֣א אָחִ֗יו וְיָדֹ֤ו אֹחֶ֙זֶת֙ בַּעֲקֵ֣ב עֵשָׂ֔ו וַיִּקְרָ֥א שְׁמֹ֖ו יַעֲקֹ֑ב וְיִצְחָ֛ק בֶּן־שִׁשִּׁ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה בְּלֶ֥דֶת אֹתָֽם, after that his brother emerged with his hand grasping on to the heel of Esav; so he called his name Yaakov; Yitzchak was sixty years old when she bore them. (Bereishis 25:26)
Have you ever met someone called finger? How about a person named ear? You probably never met anyone referred to as elbow. OK, what’s the point of all these questions? In this week’s parashah we learn that Yitzchak and Rivak had two sons. It is said (Bereishis 25:26) וְאַֽחֲרֵי־כֵ֞ן יָצָ֣א אָחִ֗יו וְיָדֹ֤ו אֹחֶ֙זֶת֙ בַּעֲקֵ֣ב עֵשָׂ֔ו וַיִּקְרָ֥א שְׁמֹ֖ו יַעֲקֹ֑ב וְיִצְחָ֛ק בֶּן־שִׁשִּׁ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה בְּלֶ֥דֶת אֹתָֽם, after that his brother emerged with his hand grasping on to the heel of Esav; so he called his name Yaakov; Yitzchak was sixty years old when she bore them. Rashi writes in one explanation that Yitzchak called him Yaakov because Yaakov was grasping on to the heel of Esav. Rashi also writes that Yaakov was hoping to be born first and receive the birthright, and his grasping onto Esav’s heel was a sign that prior to one of the brothers completing his dominion, the other brother would snatch the kingship away from him. We still need to understand why Yitzchak called his son Yaakov and that was the “name that stuck.” There were three Patriarchs, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, and only Yaakov received a name that has negative connotations. When Esav discovered that Yaakov had received the blessings from Yitzchak, it is said (Ibid 27:36) וַיֹּ֡אמֶר הֲכִי֩ קָרָ֨א שְׁמֹ֜ו יַעֲקֹ֗ב וַֽיַּעְקְבֵ֙נִי֙ זֶ֣ה פַעֲמַ֔יִם אֶת־בְּכֹרָתִ֣י לָקָ֔ח וְהִנֵּ֥ה עַתָּ֖ה לָקַ֣ח בִּרְכָתִ֑י וַיֹּאמַ֕ר הֲלֹא־אָצַ֥לְתָּ לִּ֖י בְּרָכָֽה׃, He said, “Is it because his name was called Yaakov that he outwitted me these two times? – He took away my birthright and see, now he took away my blessing!” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” Why was Esav so infatuated with Yaakov’s name that he found this to be a point of contention between him and Yaakov? Esav could have sufficed with saying, “My brother is a cheat. He cheated me out of the birthright and now he stole my blessings.” What was Esav implying by referring to Yitzchak calling Yaakov with that name?
עֵ֣קֶב also refers to the reward at the end
The word עקב, heel, has other meanings. One meaning of the word עקב is reward. One instance where we find this meaning is when it is said (Devarim 7:12) וְהָיָ֣ה ׀ עֵ֣קֶב תִּשְׁמְע֗וּן אֵ֤ת הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים֙ הָאֵ֔לֶּה וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֥ם וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֹתָ֑ם וְשָׁמַר֩ ה’ אֱלֹקיךָ לְךָ֗ אֶֽת־הַבְּרִית֙ וְאֶת־הַחֶ֔סֶד אֲשֶׁ֥ר נִשְׁבַּ֖ע לַאֲבֹתֶֽיךָ, this shall be the reward when you hearken to these ordinances, and you observe and perform them; HaShem, your G-d, will safeguard for you the covenant and the kindness that he swore to your forefathers. Another instance where we find this definition of reward is when it is said (Tehillim 19:12) גַּֽם־עַ֭בְדְּךָ נִזְהָ֣ר בָּהֶ֑ם בְּ֝שָׁמְרָ֗ם עֵ֣קֶב רָֽב, also, when your servant is scrupulous in them, in observing them there is a great reward. However, the word עֵ֣קֶב also implies end, as the reward comes at the end. The Medrash (Devarim Rabbah 3:1) states this clearly. Regarding the mitzvah of Shabbos, the Medrash states that if one sanctifies the Shabbos with food and drink and clean clothing and one benefits himself on Shabbos, HaShem will give him a reward. Proof of this is because it is said (Yeshaya 58:13) וְקָרָ֨אתָ לַשַּׁבָּ֜ת עֹ֗נֶג, and afterwards it is said (ibid verse 14) ‘ה אָ֗ז תִּתְעַנַּג֙ עַל, then you will delight in HaShem. The Jewish People then ask HaShem, when will you bestow upon us the reward for the mitzvos that we perform? HaShem answers them, “the mitzvos that you perform you benefit from their fruits now, but the reward will come only at the end, as it is said וְהָיָ֣ה ׀ עֵ֣קֶב תִּשְׁמְע֗וּן, translated as: and in the end (the reward will be) when you hearken.”
Yaakov was the choice of the Patriarchs because of his humility
Yaakov was considered the בחיר שבאבות, the choice of all the Patriarchs. How is it possible that the choice of the Patriarchs was given what would appear to be an unsavory name? Is Yaakov, the epitome of truth, like the heel of the foot and referred to as a trickster? This cannot be the explanation of his name, even if Esav seemed to think so. Rather, we must view Yaakov’s name as the definition of the Jewish People. It is said (Devarim 32:9) כִּ֛י חֵ֥לֶק ה’ עַמֹּ֑ו יַעֲקֹ֖ב חֶ֥בֶל נַחֲלָתֹֽו, for HaShem’s portion is His people; Yaakov is the measure of His inheritance. The word חֶ֥בֶל, (when interchanging the letter ח for the letter א and the letter ב for the letter פ) is similar to the word אפל, which means darkness. How is Yaakov the measure of HaShem’s inheritance? The answer to this question is that Yaakov, i.e. the Jewish People, must undergo much suffering and darkness before they receive their final reward. Yaakov grasped onto the heel of Esav because he understood that there would be a constant struggle between the Jew and the gentile, until the Ultimate Redemption with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu. The means to survive this struggle is through lowering one’s self before Esav and accepting Esav’s dominion in this world. Yaakov only “stole” the birthright from Esav because he determined that Esav was not fit to serve as a Kohen in the Bais HaMikdash. Yet, despite the exalted position of the Kohanim in the Bais HaMikdash, they are the consummate servants of HaShem. The true Jewish leader is the one who humbles himself before HaShem and His Torah. This idea is reflected in the verse that states (Ibid 7:7) לֹ֣א מֵֽרֻבְּכֶ֞ם מִכָּל־הָֽעַמִּ֗ים חָשַׁ֧ק ה’ בָּכֶ֖ם וַיִּבְחַ֣ר בָּכֶ֑ם כִּֽי־אַתֶּ֥ם הַמְעַ֖ט מִכָּל־הָעַמִּֽים׃, not because you are more numerous than all the peoples did HaShem desire you and choose you, for you are the fewest of all the peoples. Rashi writes that this can be interpreted to mean that you are the lowest of all the peoples, meaning that even when HaShem bestows a Jew with greatness, they humble themselves before him. The gentiles, however, when granted greatness from above, become even more arrogant in their behavior. Thus, Yitzchak, by naming his second son Yaakov, was foretelling the destiny of the Jewish People. We are likened to the lofty stars of the heavens, but we humble ourselves like the dust of the earth. Esav, furious at having been outwitted twice, accused Yaakov of being devious. Nothing was farther from the truth, however. Yaakov was the epitome of humility, and although HaShem and the angel later changed his name to Yisroel, a title of glory and leadership, he remained Yaakov for eternity. It is said (Amos 7:5) וָאֹמַ֗ר ה’ אלקים חֲדַל־נָ֔א מִ֥י יָק֖וּם יַעֲקֹ֑ב כִּ֥י קָטֹ֖ן הֽוּא, and I said, “Lord HaShem/Elokim, please refrain! How will Yaakov survive, for he is small?” The essence of the Jewish People is that we are small in our own eyes, and specifically for that reason, HaShem loves us from amongst all the nations.
In summary, Yitzchak named Yaakov because of the heel, as this was a reflection of Yaakov’s nature. Yaakov was small and low in his eyes, and the humble one is the true great person.
The Shabbos Connection
The Gemara (Shabbos 118a-b) states that one who delights in the Shabbos will receive a boundless heritage. This reward will be like Yaakov, of whom it is said (Bereishis 28:14) וּפָרַצְתָּ֛ יָ֥מָּה וָקֵ֖דְמָה וְצָפֹ֣נָה וָנֶ֑גְבָּה, and you shall spread out powerfully westward, eastward, northward and southward. The explanation of this Gemara is that although Yaakov was deserving of infinite reward, he humbled himself before HaShem, as we find later that Yaakov said (Ibid 32:11) קָטֹ֜נְתִּי מִכֹּ֤ל הַחֲסָדִים֙ וּמִכָּל־הָ֣אֱמֶ֔ת, “I have been diminished by all the kindnesses and by all the truth.” When we observe the Shabbos correctly, we are demonstrating our humility before HaShem, and then we will surely merit an infinite reward, which will be a day that is completely Shabbos and rest, for eternity.
Shabbos Through the Prism of the Parashah
It is said (Bereishis 27:15) וַתַּלְבֵּ֥שׁ אֶֽת־יַעֲקֹ֖ב בְּנָ֥הּ הַקָּטָֽן, and [she] clothed Yaakov her young son. The last letters of the wordsוַתַּלְבֵּ֥שׁ אֶֽת־יַעֲקֹ֖ב, when rearranged, spell the word שבת. This alludes to the idea that one should change his or her clothing of the weekday for nicer clothing on Shabbos.
The Missing Korban
With Korbanos, the sacrifices, there is a concept within certain categories of Korban called olah v’yored – where the animal offered will vary, dependent on the person’s status. For example, Parshas Tazria deals with a woman who gives birth – olah v’yored applies, and as such, a woman from a wealthy family offers a חטאת and עולה of sheep, and a woman from a poor family offers a חטאת and עולה of doves.
But what if a poor person decides to save up, and instead of bringing the doves, he chooses to offer a wealthy man’s offering of sheep/cows? In other words; are people confined to their social status?
The Halacha according to all is that if a wealthy man were to bring a poor man’s offering of doves, he has definitely not fulfilled his obligation. So the, olah v’yored applies to the animals, and it applies to the supplicant if he attempts to downgrade his responsibility. So the question becomes: can a person upgrade their responsibility?
The Sefer Hachinuch says that a poor person who upgrades his sacrifice from the birds to the cows has not fulfilled his obligation. The Rambam disputes this, and says that he has.
What is the basis of the dispute?
There is a story told about R’ Meir Schapiro, at a gathering of all the pre-war Gedolim. He presented this very question, and asked how the Sefer Hachinuch could suggest he hadn’t fulfilled his obligation, possibly contradicting various Gemaras.
Present at the gathering, was the Imrei Emes, the Gerrer Rebbe. He simply muttered, “There is a missing Korban.” Those gathered were puzzled what the Rebbe had meant. Among his attending disciples was R’ Menachem Zemba of Warsaw, a renowned genius, who took the floor. “Let us analyze where the Sefer Hachinuch says his Halacha. There are 6 applications of the concept of olah v’yored:”
1. A ritually impure person who enters the area of the Beis HaMikdash
2. A ritually impure person who eats kodshim (produce set aside for Kohanim)
4. A person who falsely swears he did not witness an event, thereby avoiding needing to testify
5. A woman who gives birth
6. A person stricken with tzara’as (a metzora)
“5+6 are different. The wealthy person brings one animal, as does the poor person. Not so in 1-4, delineated in Parshas Vayikra, wherein the wealthy person only bring the חטאת , and no עולה , thereby only needing one animal. The Gemara that the Sefer Hachinuch seemed to go against, that a poor person who brings a rich man’s offering has indeed fulfilled his obligation, was regarding 5+6, where there were two animals, brought by both the rich and poor.”
“However, in Parshas Vayikra, where the passuk discusses cases 1-4, it is insufficient for a poor person to bring a wealthy man’s offering – he’s missing an animal!”
“The Ibn Ezra discusses the possible causes for the discrepancy in how many animals a person would bring, based on his social standing.”
“1. A poor man would by definition be unhappy with his standing in life, and he would bear a grudge against Heaven for his misfortune. This necessitates an additional animal.”
“2. A wealthy person’s offering has a large enough portion to burn on the Mizbeiach by itself, a cow is a very large animal. Not so with a bird, with a woefully small portion to burn. It is disrespectful to offer such a miniscule portion, and this necessitates a whole new animal to satisfy the demands of the Mizbeiach.”
The genius continued; “So the Sefer Hachinuch would agree with the first possibility. It doesn’t help for a poor person, who must bring the second to atone for his grudge against Heaven, to bring one animal. He has not addressed this feeling within, and as the Rebbe said, there is a Korban missing.”
However, the Rambam would hold with the second option, that the second animal is not brought because of the person, but rather, by the nature of the animal being offered. If he were to bring a cow, there would be no need for a second animal, and he would indeed have fulfilled his responsibility! (http://gtorah.com)
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Toldos 5772
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Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos
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Zmanim for Oak Park, MI for Shabbos
November 26 (according to http://www.ou.org)
Sof Zman Krias Shema: 9:21/9:57
Sof Zman Shacharis 10:45
Tzeis Hakochavim: 6:16 (72 minutes)