Chicago Chesed Fund

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Toldos. Chinuch Before It's Too Late, and Forever Holding Eisav's Heel

These are from an old Journal of mine. Parts are well known, but there are things here that you won't find elsewhere.

25:25.  Admoni.  Rav Hirsch's daring criticism.

Chanoch lana’ar al pi darko.  The description ‘admoni’ is also used by Dovid Hamelech in I Shmuel 16:12, where Shmuel, right before Hashem told him to anoint Dovid, described him as “admoni im yefei einayim vetov ro’i.”  The Malbim there explains that Eisov and Dovid shared certain character traits of passion and violence, but Eisov followed the natural course of his personality, while Dovid sublimated his character traits to serve the Ribono shel Olam, he redirected his inclination towards battle inwards, and he became a tzadik gamur and a brave soldier of Hashem.

Expanding on this, Rav Shimshon Refael Hirsch in this parsha, on 25:27, says a wonderful thing.  The possuk says that “vayigdelu haneorim, vehinei Eisov...veYakov...”  Rashi says that while they were little, what they were wasn’t evident from their behavior, and nobody checked into them to see what they were, but as soon as they turned 13, one went to bais medrash, and one went to avoda zoro.  Rav Hirsch says that while the message and goal of a Torah life is relatively simple, the way it is transmitted has infinite variations.  The method of teaching for a child with a scholarly bent, if used for a ‘vildeh chaya’, is a recipe for disaster.  The Torah is criticizing how Yitzchok and Rivka raised their children.  They didn’t analyze their personalities sufficiently to discern what method of teaching would be best for each, and so Eisov just learned enough to enable him to duplicitously exploit a facade of  righteousness, while Yakov became a tzadik.  Dovid Hamelech’s parents did not make this mistake, and provided chinuch which encouraged Dovid to tame his ‘admimus’ and use it in the service of Hashem.

The fact that Eisav was attracted to avodah zara before he was born really doesn’t contradict this vort: as we know, some people are just aggressive and lebedik, and when faced with avoda zara, they are attracted to it without any motive, just because it’s wild and crazy.  They can end up either joining it or destroying it, but they can’t just ignore it.  And in any case, the point is that the education that is right for one child is not necessarily right for another.  The chinuch of a Yaakov for an Eisav is recipe for disaster.

This, I believe, is why Hashem made them twins.  The same stories and mussar haskeil could have occurred if they were born one after the other, as were Yitzchok and Yishmoeil.  The Ribono shel Olam did it this way to show that they were twins, they were born and raised together, they experienced identical circumstances, and they turned out vastly different. Again, the lesson is that each child needs very careful evaluation and constant scrutiny. Young people change, and you can not rely on any apparent trajectory.

R' Michoel Raitzik visited my Father zeicher tzadik livracha on September 9, 2006 and told me that the Pnei Yehoshua in Kiddushin 82b asks about the stirah between Rebbi Nehoro’i’s Meini’ach ani kol umnus... and the gemora that says that a father has to teach his child a craft.  He says that it depends on the child.  If your child is not ro’ui to sit and learn, then you are chayov to teach him a craft.  Reb Michel said that he asked Rav Hutner for reshus to go to college, and Rav Hutner told him absolutely not.  He asked, but you let so-and-so go!  Rav Hutner told him, first of all, it’s not your business what I tell other bochurim.  Second of all, the difference is that that boy cannot sit and learn three sedorim, and if he had to sit in Beis Medrash all three sedorim, he wouldn’t learn in any of them, so he has to do something else so that he can at least learn two sedorim.  You, on the other hand, can learn all three sedorim, and you can’t go to college.

Here is the Pnei Yehoshua.
 ר' נהוראי אומר מניח אני כל אומניות שבעולם ואיני מלמד את בני אלא תורה כו׳ 
לכאורה נראה דר' נהוראי לית ליה הא דאמרינן לעיל בפ"ק נדף כ"ט ע"א דחייב אדם ללמד בנו אומנות ואמרינן נמי בפרקי אבות (פרק ב' משנה ב') כל תורה שאין עמה מלאכה ודרך ארץ סופה בטילה
אלא דלמאי דפרישית בסמוך אתי שפיר דלא פליג דודאי מידת כל אדם ללמוד תורה ודרך ארץ דאין כל אדם זוכה לכך שיהא מלאכתו נעשית ע"י אחרים וא"כ ח"ו אפשר שיבא לידי לסטיות או לידי בזיון התורה אמנם ר' נהוראי כלפי עצמו אמר כן לפי שראה שבנו זריז וממולח ותלמודו מתקיים בידו בענין שיהא ת"ח גמור וצדיק גמור שמלאכתו יהא נעשית ע"י אחרים ומש"ה אמר דמניח כל אומניות שבעולם ואינו מלמדו אלא תורה ואין לו לחוש לפרנסתו בתורה עם דרך ארץ כיון שמלאכתו יהא נעשית ע"י אחרים דגם במעלליו יתנכר נער גם כי יזקין לא יסור ממנה 
ומסיק ואזיל שהתורה משמרתו מכל רע בענין שאין לו לחוש שע"י יסורין שיבואו עליו יצטרך לבטל מתורה שהרי התורה מצילתו מכל רע ואף מיסורין כדאיתא בברכות (ה׳ ע"א) ועוד דאף אם אפשר שע"י זקנה ויסורין של אהבה יבטל מתלמוד תורה אעפ"כ יאכל מפירות התורה שלמד בילדותו כמו שפרש"י 

והשתא נמי אתי שפיר הא דמייתי מהא דכתיב באברהם בזקנותו וה' ברך את אברהם בכל וקשיא לי דלפרש"י לא מייתי מידי דודאי אברהם בזקנותו למד תורה ואדרבה מהאי קרא ילפינן דאברהם זקן ויושב בישיבה היה אבל למאי דפרישית אתי שפיר דשפיר מייתי מיהא ראייה דבת"ח וצדיק גמור מלאכתו נעשית ע"י אחרים כדמצינו באברהם דכתיב וה' ברך אותו בכל ודרשינן מיניה שהטעימו הקב"ה מעין עולם הבא ויתכן יותר למאי דפרישית לעיל דהרעותי מעשי וקפחתי פרנסתי נגד חטא אדם הראשון קאי עד שבא אברהם ותיקן וצירף עד שכרת לו הקב"ה ברית והטעימו מעין עולם הבא כמו שהיה קודם חטא אדם הראשון וכן יהיה לעתיד שעתידה ארץ ישראל להוציא גלוסקאות וכלי מילת יהי רצון שיהיה במהרה בימינו אמן וכן יהי רצון 


25:26.  Ochezes ba’akeiv Eisov.  Rav Kook in the Ein Ayoh says that the name ‘Yaakov’ refers to Klal Yisroel’s task of holding back the natural inclination of mankind to give free rein to their yeitzer hora.  We brought the notions of mercy and pity on the weak and chesed to the world, and thereby held them back from the evil they would otherwise do.  There are times, though, that our duty is to confront and fight the exponents of evil who deny the validity of our moral teachings.  That is why we are also called Yisroel, the one who wages war.  Yaakov and Yisrael. Teaching by example and  persuasion, and fighting barbaric immorality.


  1. The implications of Rav Hirsch's vort are truly terrifying. It dovetails well, though, with the famous Brisker Rav on the possuk in this week's haftarah הלא אח עשו ליעקב, that while Yitzchok and Yishmoel's respective roles were predetermined, and of Yitchok's offspring only one was destined to be chosen, the one who would be the ביצחק ולא כל יצחק could as well have been Esav as Yaakov. Only once Esav left the proper path did it become ואוהב את יעקב ואת עשו שנאתי.

    Perhaps this even mitigates the implications somewhat: Esav and Yaakov were twins to force (to a degree) a unified method of education. Given their diametrically opposed proclivities, it was inevitable that whichever method of chinuch was chosen, one would emerge worthy of being an Av of the Nation of Hashem, and the other would go OTD, in the modern parlance. This was a necessary defining moment as to which direction the character of the Am Hashem would take.

    This fits well with Rav Kook's vort, too. וידו אוחזת בעקבעשו - these two titans are locked in an eternal struggle, with Yaakov restraining Esav from free reign and Esav undermining Yaakov's support, for neither can thrive while the other survives.

    1. Thank you for the good he'aros.
      Especially the second paragraph - that this was another "setup." The imperative was that one would be the progenitor of the Am Hanivchar, and the other their antagonist. By arranging that such different children would have the same chinuch, that outcome was practically guaranteed.
      I should put that into the Teleology post. I really don't like that word, but I can't think of a better one. Reverse causality doesn't cover it all.
      Yasher Koach!

  2. "The fact that Eisav was attracted to avodah zara before he was born really doesn’t contradict this vort: as we know, some people are just aggressive and lebedik, and when faced with avoda zara, they are attracted to it without any motive, just because it’s wild and crazy. They can end up either joining it or destroying it, but they can’t just ignore it." Might this answer the Maharsha's kashye (Sanhedrin 91b)?

    1. Thank you for bringing up that Mahrsha. I think my approach is valid, but of course it's the tip of the iceberg.
      For those that don't have the Mahrsha in front of them, here's a basic survey. The Gemara is one of the dialogues between Rebbi and Antoninus, including "When is the Yetzer Hara injected into the person."
      ויש להקשות מהא דאמרינן בפ"ב דיומא (פב:) ההיא עוברה דארחה ביוה"כ, אתו (כצ"ל, וכ"ה בגמ' שם.) לקמיה דר"מ. א"ל, לחישו לה. ולא אלחישא. קרי עליה, זורו רשעים מרחם. מהא מוכח ששולט יצה"ר גם במעי אמו. ובהא יש ליישב, דע"י אמו כי התם אפשר דשולט בו יצה"ר קודם היציאה אבל בולד עצמו אינו שולט וכו' אך קשה מהא דדרשינן גבי ויתרוצצו הבנים בקרבה שהיתה עוברת על פתח עבודת כוכבים והיה עשו מפרכס לצאת.

      The Maharal asks the same question, and also asks on Rashi here ממעיך יפרדו מן המעים הם נפרדים זה לרשעו וזה לתומו. משמע, דוקא מן המעים נפרדים ולא בעודם בבטן.
      So he answers
      שבאמת יצר הרע הגורם לאדם לרצות לחטוא בא משעת היציאה וכמ"ש בסנהדרין (שם), ומה שפרכס עשו לצאת כשראה בית עבודה זרה אינו משום שיצרו השיאו לכך אלא משום שהיה עשו מתאוה לשוב אל מינו ואל טבעו. וכן גבי יעקב שפירכס לצאת לבתי מדרשות לא מצד יצרו הטוב אלא משום שנתעורר לשוב לטבעו ולמינו.
      I'm not experienced in Maharals.

      Reb Mordcheh Joffe there, in the Levush Ha'orah, asks that first of all, it's still shver on the Gemara. Second, it would excuse reshaim. So he says that Yaakov and Eisav were unique in this respect. This is also clear in the Sefer Chasidim, that says that Yaakov and Eisav were created along with the Torah, long before the world was created.

    2. From the fact that Avrohom was already told כי ביצחק ולא כל יצחק, we see that one of the children was predestined to not follow in Avrohom's ways even before conception. This is obviously not a function of the regular yetzer horah's implantation.

    3. I agree. But as you said, which direction each child would take was not necessarily destined. The על פתח עבודת כוכבים היה עשו מפרכס לצאת seems to stack the deck.