(Torah Portion Toldos) Let it Go
The Torah relates that our matriarch Rivka was pregnant with twin boys, Yaacov and Aisav. She was informed through prophecy that Yaacov would be devout and pious, while Aisav would be wicked. Until the boys were fifteen years old their dissimilar personalities were not apparent.
However, on the day that their grandfather Avraham passed away, Aisav’s wickedness became clear. He committed the three cardinal sins; idolatry, adultery and murder. On that very day, Aisav sold and relinquished his first-born birthright to his brother Yaacov for a mere bowl of lentil soup.
Aisav was quite aware of the responsibilities and spiritual commitment that came along with filling the spiritual requirements of being the third patriarch of the Jewish people, and he eagerly surrendered it to Yaacov. G-d kept Aisav’s selling the birthright to Yaacov hidden from their father Yitzchok, however it was not concealed from their mother Rivka.
Yitzchok was blind and therefore Aisav, by honoring and caring for his father in a superlative way, was able to fool and deceive his father from recognizing his true evil colors.
Aisav had a personal agenda in doing so, for he knew that together with the spiritual first-born birthright there was an added benefit of special physical and material blessings. He desperately wanted those blessings from his father Yitzchok and acted piously when he was in his father’s presence.
When Yitzchok was prepared to bless Aisav, Rivka coached and guided Yaacov as to how to disguise himself as Aisav. Yaacov was successful in receiving the blessings and when Aisav found out that he was outsmarted by his brother and his evil ways became known to his father, Aisav vowed to kill his brother Yaacov in due time. At the behest of his parents, Yaccov quickly separated and hid from Aisav.
Aisav and Yaacov did not meet until 34 years later. Aisav was still steaming mad because Yaacov outsmarted him. However, Yaacov was able to appease him with lavish gifts and Aisav had a momentary reprieve from his anger.
How long can Aisav and his nation Edom be angry and hold a grudge against Yaacov and the Jewish people?
The Prophet Amos writes: “Thus said the Almighty; for three transgressions (cardinal sins) of Edom, I will turn away from punishment, but for the fourth, I will not pardon them, for their pursuing his brother (Yaacov and Jewish people) with the sword and suppressing his mercy; because his anger has raged incessantly and he has kept his wrath and fury forever.”
By the basic design of Aisav’s nation of Edom, they have an eternal incapability of shrugging off their grudge against the Jewish people. As we see, 1700 years after Aisav sold the birthright; his nation of Edom destroyed the Second Temple in Jerusalem.
During a wonderful lecture that Rabbi Matisyahu Solomon presented, he made a comment that made a profound impression on me.
“Holding on to grudges and resentment is not part of the basic makeup and nature of a Jew, for when one harbors and gets hung up on resentment, he is fundamentally embracing a trait of Aisav, which is the antithesis of a Jew.”
The Torah commands us, “Do not harbor hatred in your heart towards your brother.”
We are taught that the process of expressing repentance to G-d can only be effective in regards to sins that are between man and G-d. However, when one sinned against his fellow, he can only achieve repentance if he is forgiven by the person who was hurt.
The Halacha states that one should have a generous heart when approached by another for forgiveness.
This is only possible when we take a moment to reflect and appreciate that we all have the inner capacity and capability to overcome, work out and even expunge any feelings of hatred, grudges or other types of issues that we may be faced with.
Exercising this awesome power shows how truly potent are the wonderful genes that we have inherited from our righteous forefathers!
Wishing you a restful, peaceful and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks