Weekly Hashkafa #80: Esav, The Root Soul of the Fourth Av

Given: January 3, 2022

We are now in that sections of Torah, the parshios about Mitzrayim---Egypt and the exodus so I thought it very good to elaborate on the basis for all this, different aspects I’ve mentioned. This important chapter as a reference point to what the Divine Agenda is.

G-D’s Middot and the Sefirot that Define Patriarchy

We know that the ribono shel olam---Master of the universe creates the entire world with the sefiros---Divine forces. We don’t understand their nature, but they are of the highest order. G-D uses them to create realities and He’s created many realities. There are ten of them, and three of them are very significant:

1- Chesed---kindness, compassion (though it means more than just that)

2- Gevurah---strength, restraint, discipline

3- Tiferes---beauty, splendor

Besides being forces that G-D uses to maintain the world, maintain Creation, these also describe characteristics of G-D, His midot---attributes.

Chesed describes a unique characteristic we attribute to G-D, the sending forth of a shefa, a holy energy of some sort, regardless of whether or not a person deserves it. In other words, the flow of kedusha---holiness that G-D sends forth is not connected to, not contingent upon, any act of mankind; it’s purely the Will of G-D to bestow tremendous tov---goodness, positivity, to a being. It’s purely what we can call a “gift.” This gift is holiness, but what it really is, is existence.

This is a midah of G-D and which is unique to Him.

Gevurah---strength indicates the opposite. It is how G-D withholds the energy, the holiness, that He wants to give. The power of withholding is gevurah.

Tiferes is a blend of chesed and gevurah which means that G-D will send forth tov but it is contingent upon the acts of a person. G-D gives and G-d restrains. The extent to which G-D restrains depends on the acts of the receiver.

These three characteristics have been manifested, expressed in three individuals. The first is Avraham avinu (Abraham, our father/patriarch), the model for chesed. He did acts of chesed in which he would extend great goodness to others. His tent had four doors by which you could enter it, enter from any one of four directions. This indicates his need, his desire, to give good to be hospitable to others. His hospitality has long been known to be an emblem of this characteristic. We see this in the story of the three malachim---angels that came to his tent when he was ill, having just performed the bris mila---rite of circumcision on himself. Despite that weakened condition, he immediately rushed to provide them the best food, catering to them. Avraham was into kiruv, into bringing people to belief in G-D. He and Sarah created many gerim---proselytes, converts due to their impulse of outreach and generosity.

His son, Yitzchak (Isaac) personified the midah of gevurah. He also did chesed but his predominant attribute was his incredible personal strength to resist temptation, to say “no” to himself, deny himself. He exemplified “self-discipline.” Yitzchak was in tremendous control of himself. That is apparent in “Pirkei Avot”---Ethics of the Fathers where it asks: “azehu gibor, ha’kovesh es yitzro”---who is strong?-he who can overcome his own inclination. Yitzchak worked on himself to reach the greatest height of serving G-D in terms of davening, prayer, channeling his desires the correct way, and so on.

In the “middle” of these two traits is Ya’akov avinu (Jacob). He exemplified the blending of chesed and gevurah. In the end, this is how the world works. It doesn’t work through pure chesed or pure gevurah. A person has to deserve what he gets. That’s the reality. This is the truth of the matter and Ya’akov was into what’s called “truth” or “reality” and that reality is really the Torah. The Torah is the clear description of all realities that G-D created.

We have, then, three characteristics of G-D as exemplified by the three avos---patriarchs. Chesed “has” Avraham avinu. Gevurah, strength or might, is exemplified by Yitzchak, and Ya’akov exemplifies tiferes, the harmonious blend.

Beauty can be said to describe the blending of many different elements into one unified entity. That’s what beauty really is. In music, it is the blending of notes, sound frequencies, so it is harmonious, a symphony. In painting, the elements of color, form, perspective, come together. That’s beauty. The elements may even be opposites of each other but, in forming reality, they become one.

The same principle presides over truth. Reality is a blending of many different forces that may be individual, even opposite but, in forming reality, they become one, each aspect acting in the way appropriate for it. What is important about this is that tiferes is a “middle” midah, between chesed and gevurah, blending and balancing the two. Since this is the case, we realize that that which is the middle has a right side and a left side. So, tiferes has two portions, each leaning either to the right or left. The right-leaning portion “leans” toward chesed. The left-leaning portion tends toward gevurah.

Since chesed is exemplified by Avraham, and gevurah is exemplified by Yitzchak, we know that Ya’akov exemplifies tiferes, but---wait a minute! I said that tiferes has a right and left side but is it true that the right side is represented by one person and the left side by another? If Ya’akov represents the right side of tiferes, the side that tends toward chesed, who represents the left side? The answer is incredible---Esav. It’s a fascinating idea.

Esav exemplifies the left side of tiferes. Whoever exemplifies a midah of the ribono shel olam at that level is an av---patriarch. That’s right! Avraham is a patriarch exemplifying chesed and Yitzchak is a patriarch representing gevurah. Ya’akov respresents the chesed aspect of this

blended unity and so---guess what?---Esav represents the left side, the gevurah side of tiferes so he too is an av, a patriarch! Most think of Esav as a rasha---evil-doer, a rogue, which he was, but Esav didn’t start out that way. We’ll get into that soon. He started out as the equal of Ya’akov.

The FOUR Patriarchs

We now begin to see something remarkable. There are really four avos, not three. Four are needed to exemplify the sefiros of chesed, gevurah, and tiferes. Most people find this shocking but that’s exactly what there are, four patriarchs. RaMCHaL talks about this in “Kinnaos Ha’Shem Tzivakos” and, believe it or not, by Rashi. Most people would be stunned to know that. I will mention things which, in many ways, are astounding to show how Esav is an av.

A midrash---exigetical commentary by Panayach Raza, a rishon---one of the early commentators on the Torah, says that, had Esav done his job as a patriarch, he would have been twice as great as Ya’akov avinu, which is incredible---and I’ll talk more about Esav’s job as a patriarch. Esav had a more difficult job as a patriarch, than Ya’akov. This is indicated by the numerical value of the name “Esav” being twice the numerical value of “Ya’akov” (in Hebrew) spelled with the letter “vav.” This shows that, not only was Esav a patriarch, one of four, but he could have been twice as great as Ya’akov avinu, which I will talk about.

The second confirmation is a midrash that says that, had Esav not strayed, not become a rasha, Ya’akov would have contributed only six shvatim---tribes, and Esav too would have contributed six. They’d have split the sum of twelve. Each brother had the neshama---soul of an av, so each could have a “lower” neshama called a “shevet.”

What does this tell you? Ya’akov and Esav were, minimally, equal in their origin, as the Paneach Rozer points out. Esav could have been twice as great as Ya’akov had he not strayed. This is not just a theory. It is a fundamental foundation of the hashkafa, of the blueprint of Creation, as we will see. We now begin to understand why Ya’akov and Esav were twins, identical twins, even though Esav was red-haired, etc.

Where do we see this? Esav withheld, denied the burial of Ya’akov by the shevatim after he died in Egypt and was taken to the Me’aras ha’Machpela. Esav objected, saying that he, himself, also had half, also had a plot in the Machpela. He actually stopped them from burying Ya’akov. Present at this attempted burial was a person called Achushen ben Dan, a son of Dan apparently, who was deaf. He was wondering what was happening, what the dispute was about, why Esav was intervening in the procession to bury Ya’akov. He didn’t understand the dispute, but he knew that this was a bezoim---expression of contempt. He brandished his sword wanting to kill Esav but, since Esav looked just like Ya’akov, he felt he couldn’t. He had to go behind him to behead him. Esav’s head falls into the kever---grave they were about to inter Ya’akov in---which is very symbolic---but, from this, we see that they were identical twins.

How can they have been so different, being identical twins? Now we have an answer. It was told to Rivka, their mother, that there were twins inside her. This was so because they both came from tiferes, the same sefira, the same origin. They both exemplified that sefira. Since they had the same origin, they were twins. It was no accident. They had the same spiritual origin. They had to be twins.

There had to be four avos, not three. Each sefira has to be represented by a person who is so great that he has the neshama of a patriarch. Since tiferes is in the middle, a middle characteristic that combines the previous two, you have to have two people. One person cannot represent that “middle” midah. Why? There are two sides to the midah.

Their Respective Missions

You’re going to ask: What’s the mission of these people? We know that Avraham avinu was chesed and Yitzchak was gevurah, strength, but what’s the mission of Ya’akov and Esav and what does it mean that they “merged in tiferes”?

The Torah tells us what their mission, their purpose, is. We are told that Ya’akov avinu was “yoshev ohalim”---dwelt in tents whereas Esav was a “man of the field.” Is this merely a description of their occupations?---no. Here’s what it means; the job of Ya’akov was to spread holiness, referred to as “hispashtus kedusha,” to promote righteousness throughout. That is why he was a dweller in tents, learning Torah all day long, learning Torah because his job was to bring down holiness. By being absorbed in Torah, he’d be bringing down its holiness into the world, as a patriarch.

What was Esav’s job? It is one thing to bring down holiness and quite another to vanquish evil. There was so much evil in the world; we know what that is! It’s the concept of the Satan, the root of evil, the zoama---contaminent. The Satan projects this into the world and someone has to challenge, fight with the Satan and destroy him. That’s Esav’s job. Someone has to go into the world, the “field,” the Satan’s residence, and challenge, destroy him. How?---by remaining righteous even while in the Satan’s environment. It’s called “kefias ha’ra”---subjugation of evil. As a “man of the field,” this was Esav’s task. To succeed is to take away a tremendous amount of strength from the Satan.

The terminology the Torah uses is a description of each’s mission. Ya’akov was to have brought righteousness and holiness into this world while Esav was to have cancelled out the tumah---defilement, the zoama “in the field.” He was to be a “travelling tzaddik” diminishing the yanuka, that which nourishes the Satan. The Satan is able to draw out a substantial amount of holiness from the sins of people. In order to diminish that, Esav had to be connected to the shoresh---root, essence of evil. Esav, as a patriarch, is a shoresh neshama---a root soul. As such, he can give rise to tribes. And, as such, he was connected to the root of evil. Therefore, if Esav did a mitzvah, it would severely diminish the power of the Satan. It would be a root soul destroying a another root soul, that of the Satan. Ya’akov and Esav had similar jobs in the sense that they both were dealing with the reality of holiness versus tumah, but Esav had to confront it and remain righteous. As a patriarch, he could destroy it.

Klal Yisrael’s Two Jobs as Derived from the “Split”

These ideas are critical because they form the basis of a great deal of the differences between Jews. Are you “in the field” fighting evil, entering the evil world fraught with temptations and where there is so much sinning, withstanding those temptations and remaining righteous?

To give you an example, a guy’s got to work on Wall Street or in the diamond district, worlds where there are so many temptations, so much sinning, to resist it. That’s kefias ha’ra, Esav’s job. Then there are the guys who don’t do that. They are rosh yeshivas---heads of yeshivas. They go to yeshiva, sit all day and learn, give shiurim---lessons, lectures, are responsible to proliferate Torah. That’s Ya’akov’s job.

You see how it’s divided? klal Yisrael, in general, as exemplified by Ya’akov and Esav, really has those two jobs. One person goes into the world of work, a world detrimental and tempting, and withstands the temptations. Another’s life is centered around Torah. He might be in a kollel. In the end, the goal of klal Yisrael is to weaken the Satan, to bring down holiness. Ya’akov and Esav are the origin of this split, the two types of avodah---service.

The Messianic Process and the Dual Mission

The avodah of Esav is, in many ways, the avodah of Mashiach ben Yosef. Now you begin to understand Esav’s task---the messianic process to destroy evil. The holiness that the Satan has taken must be restored to the “side of kedusha.” Then, the second job called “hispahstus kedusha,” the bringing down of the rest of the great shefa---flow can be done.

Therefore, there are two types of people, those who are always contending with their Satan; we know people like that. They have all kinds of drives, urges, temptations, and are always battling the Satan, the zoama. The others are somehow able to give shiurim, work in a yeshiva, becoming rosh yeshivas or a posek. Their lives are lives of kedusha. How do we explain this divergence? This is the origin of that divergence, the “division of labor.”

This goes to the fundamental aspect of the blueprint of Creation in terms of the two jobs. This is illustrative of Mashiach ben Yosef, which is Esav, and Mashiach ben David, which is Ya’akov. This information I’ve explained is unknown to most people. I will continue with this topic as we begin to see how this addresses the concept of “Egypt,” of current events.

Any questions?

Q & A


R’Kessin: Wow! I hope this means everybody understood it very well.

Participant: Yes, we did.

R’Kessin: Great! But I want to tell you something: this is not a drusha, a sermon. It’s a fundamental understanding of the fabric of the blueprint itself. And you begin to understand why Jewish people are “divided” into those two areas (of endeavor). Some contend with the Satan and some just have to worry about bringing down kedusha, increasing holiness in the world. Like I said, fundamentally these two jobs are carried out by Mashiach ben Yosef and Mashiach ben David. But then the story gets fascinating as you’ll see when I will continue next week. Then you will really see how it plays out.

Participant: Two questions: (a person’s) different tikkun (job) that you have to do in this world really originates from those two?

R’Kessin: Yes, it became split by those two.

Participant: Then the Eirev Rav….are they considered as if they are from Esav’s side?

R’Kessin: They are certainly people who have become the soldiers of the Satan, Jews that have relinquished their task of combating the Satan. They’ve just “thrown in the towel.” They’re doing the job of the Satan. In a certain sense, they are like Esav who became corrupt, which we’ll talk about because that’s what happened eventually. Instead of Esav destroying the Satan, he joined him, partnered with him. We’ll talk about that. The Eirev Rav have become like Esav.

Participant: I have a question about the sefira, with the ten makot from the parasha---Torah portion. I was reading that Ha’Shem designated different stars, designated them through the sefirot. If Ha’Shem moved them from a certain position to a different position, that’s how different makot came about.

R’Kessin: That’s the concept of “astrology” and we don’t understand how, but the shefa---the actual energies that shape the world or determine the direction of the world---is determined in heaven, obviously, and they originate in heaven, but how do they come to the earth? They come via the stars. We don’t know exactly how, but that is the study of astrology. If you know astrology, you could figure it out---the planets, the “houses,” the different times of the day, you can predict, based on the configuration of the stars, together with the planets etc., what that shefa is coming down from shamayim---heaven to the earth. That’s the real origin of astrology which we are completely “in the dark” about as to how it works. If you know about these, the zodiac, mazalos---constellations etc., you can figure out what is now being projected to the earth based on the configuration of the stars, planets.

This is what happened. If G-D wants to send a makah---plague/ blow, what that is, is the manifestation of a sefira. The ten makos were really ten sefiros aimed at Egypt to destroy it. He would configure the (position) of stars and whatever in order to convey that shefa, that flow of energy of that sefira.

There was a chochma---wisdom that the Egyptians used to know, including Moshe Rabbeinu, of course.

Participant: Stars have so much power in the sense that…

R’Kessin: They (stars) are a powerful vehicle for Ha’Shem’s power.

Participant: Is that why Ha’Shem compared us to the stars because, really, we too are vehicles. Through us, the world is affected.

R’Kessin: Yes, that’s true. Just as they transmit different energies, forces, so do the Jews. The only difference is that stars are conduits. Nothing originates with them. They just convey it. The Jews, however, are the origin. When you do a mitzvah, you send up a force to heaven activating, automatically, arousing, a sefira that sends a force in response to what your mitzvah is and it sends it back down. The Jew is the originator of the force of the shefa because we have free will. The stars, however, are, basically, what’s called “conduits” like pipes that just convey. The key idea is the origin of the type of force being conveyed. Since we have free will, we actually originate it whereas stars just convey. It emanates from both directions.

Participant: It is said that, in the beginning, when mashiach comes, the star of mashiach is going to be five times the size of Earth and it’s gonna show, appear, in the sky looking like fire in the sky but it’s really “kochav Ya’akov”---star of Ya’akov,” the star of mashiach and he’s going to be fighting against seven other stars and then, once the war in shamayim is ended, it comes down to the earth as physicality when he pronounces himself “mashiach.” So, would that happen first, as a star versus…..why would that happen first?

R’Kessin: Again, the star is the vehicle that conveys the force of the mashiach so it’s almost like an emblem that represents, signifies, the force of the mashiach that wars against the other stars that are emblems of evil, the evil of the world. Therefore, you have one configuration fighting---overcoming, I should say---another configuration. That’s the ultimate battle.

Recall that I once told you that there are eight persecutory agents, including the Eirev Rav who are Jews. If you don’t count the Eirev Rav, there are seven persecutory agents and those seven stars would represent, astrologically, those seven nations. Each one is a klipa---spiritual obstacles. It’s a battle between the star of mashiach and the stars of the umos ha’olam---“worlds” of the other nations.

Participant: We’re gonna see this, see this with our physical eyes?

R’Kessin: Well, yeah. That’s what it says. That will be interesting.

Participant: I was looking it up in the scientific way. I wanted to know what they say about it versus what we say about it and they’re just predicting that it’s like this huge planet that’s gonna come and destroy earth and, obviously, they make it sound very, very terrifying. But, for us, as Jews, knowing that that’s the star of mashiach is, actually, very exciting.

R’Kessin: That’s one way of looking at it, frightening but it’s exciting too.

Participant: But if you see that, then you know it’s here.

R’Kessin: But you have to know what it represents. If you don’t know what it represents, it looks like the earth is about to be destroyed.

Participant: Correct. That’s why we have you.

R’Kessin: Okay, I like that answer.

Participant: The other question I wanted to ask was about (that which is between the worlds), the firmament. I don’t understand what that is, technically, the seven firmaments.

R’Kessin: “Firmament” is the heavens.

Participant: There are seven?

R’Kessin: Yeah, well….you don’t divide it by “heavens;” you divide it by “olamos.” There are five, putting away Olam ha’Ba which is called “Primordial Man.” The five are: Atzilus, Beriya, Yetzira, Asiya. Asiya is the place we’re in and it has seven heavens, seven sub-sections. Then you have Olam ha’Shaful.

Participant: There are seven---levels, let’s say---in each world, and the higher you get to the next level….that’s how you could get to the next olam?

R’Kessin: Yeah, that’s right. In fact, a navi---prophet would travel through all the olamos---which was amazing when you look at Yechezkel (Ezekial), what he did by the Maaseh Merkavah---Divine Chariot. It says that he went through four different olamos to access Olam Atzilus. He would go through the heavens. His consciousness would see the different heavens as it moved through them, ultimately to gain insight into the highest world, not just the heavens, but he had to go to all of them to get to Atzilut. That’s where he would see his prophetic message.

Participant: Then it’s seven, okay, so does this have what to do with the 50th level of wisdom? Does it have anything to do with….to get through….

R’Kessin: No. That’s different. That’s the levels of Chochma.

Participant: Got it.

R’Kessin: Next week we’ll continue with this entire understanding of a major part of the blueprint which all starts with Ya’akov and Esav. You’ll see how many of the dots are connected. Have a great week.

Participants: Thank you; that was fascinating….really wonderful! Thank you!

R’Kessin: What’s interesting is that most people are unaware of this. If you tell people, “By the way, Esav is an av,” they will look at you and think you’re crazy.

Participant: Is that why his head was buried (in the Machpela)?

R’Kessin: Yes, because how in the world would G-D allow Esav’s head to be buried with Ya’akov avinu, right? It’s incredible when you think about it. We know the story but it’s far beyond the story. What’s his head doing by Ya’akov? The answer is: it’s because the head of Esav wasn’t a rasha; it was his body that succumbed to the Satan. His head was holy because the origin of his head was that of a patriarch.

Participant: That must be a terrible punishment, to die like that and not be buried together.

R’Kessin: Who, for Esav?

Participant: Yeah.

R’Kessin: But I want to tell you something. Esav has Gan Eden. I don’t know if you realize that.

Participant: No, I didn’t know. Why?

R’Kessin: There’s a midrash that says that, in the End of Time---we’re gonna talk about that, about Esav doing teshuva---Esav is gonna be in Gan Eden and sneak his way up to a higher level. That’s what it says. G-D will say to Esav, “What are you doing here? You don’t deserve to be here at this level. Get back down to where you were!” The question is: how did Esav get into Gan Eden in the first place? Forget about his climbing to the higher levels. What’s he doing here? That is a secret of Esav which I’ve been talking about extensively, the whole concept of the “tov she’b’Esav”—the good aspect of Esav that I identified with Trump. That shows you that, in the end, Esav does return, which I will talk about. Most people have no idea about this.