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Monday, November 20, 2017 2 Kislev 5778





LIVING WITH
THE TIMES

The first Lubavitch/Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, author of the Tanya and Code of Jewish Law, once remarked that a Jew must "live with the times." His son explained the meaning: A Jew must live with the Torah portion of the week - i.e., he must assimilate the lessons of the weekly Torah portion
B"H
 
 

Restoring Integrity
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In the beginning of this week’s Parsha, the Torah relates that Esav came in from the field famished and asked Yakov to feed him some of the lentils that he was cooking. Yakov asks for Esav’s birthright in return, to which he readily agreed. The Torah derides him for this: “…he ate and drank; he got up and left. Esav despised the birthright.”
 
The Midrash explains that on that very day Avraham had passed away. The lentils cooked by Yakov were the traditional food served to mourners.
 
The Midrash states that while Yitzchak and Yakov were mourning the loss of Avraham, the paragon of virtue, Esav was out on a crime spree. That day, the Midrash states, Esav committed three major sins: murder, violation of a betrothed maiden and disgracing his birthright.
 
With these three crimes, Esav repudiated three fundamental principles of Judaism, upon which the 13 Principles of Faith enumerated by Maimonides are based: The existence of G-d; the Divine origin of the Torah; and the immortality of the soul.
By committing murder, he denied the existence of the immortal soul. He rejected the birthright because he believed there is no life beyond the physical world. By violating a betrothed maiden, he denied the Torah as the word of G-d. The Torah is called morashah, an inheritance, but can also be translated as m’orasa—a betrothal. It is the engagement contract between us and G-d. Denying the Divine dimension of Torah is tantamount to violating the integrity of the Torah; a betrothed maiden. Esav’s rejection and denigration of his birthright is a subtle rejection of belief in a G-d who precedes all else and who brought all else into existence.
 
The three principles denied by Esav were already under assault, starting at the very dawn of humanity. When Adam and Chava (Eve) ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, they denied G-d’s omniscience. They lusted after the fruit, similar to the sensual desire that causes one to engage in illicit relations. Moreover, their transgression and submission to the serpent, the embodiment of evil, injected impurity into the human condition, which infected Cain and caused the death of Abel.
 
The Patriarchs and Matriarchs were the first to reverse the damage caused by Adam and Eve’s sin.
 
Avraham devoted his life to promote belief in and awareness of one G-d. Isaac, by allowing himself to be a sacrifice, atoned for the bloodshed that was introduced into the world as a consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin. Yakov brought further atonement through his intense study of Torah, our betrothal to G-d, which atones for the sin of immorality.
 
However, their joint accomplishments were not without some formidable challenges. On the last day that Avraham, Yitzchak and Yakov lived contemporaneously, Esav attempted to sabotage their joint accomplishments by violating these three fundamental principles, whether by actual deed or in his perverted theological mindset.
 
And the rest, as they say, is history.
 
Throughout the last 3,700 years, since the days of the Patriarch’s and the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, we have been laboring in our efforts to reverse Adam and Chava’s shortcomings. We now stand on the cusp of the Geulah (Final Redemption) through Moshiach, when these three cardinal sins, in all their incarnations and nuances, will be removed permanently.
 
The message for us is that in these last moments of Galus (Exile) we must prepare for the Geulah by, among other preparations, focusing on the three primary tenets of Judaism: the belief and awareness of G-d as the First; second, our intimacy with Torah; and third, realization that the soul is eternal and so is its life with the body in the Age of the Resurrection.

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