Given: January 10, 2022
Note: This lecture included much source material read verbatim from the texts in Hebrew for the purpose of lending evidentiary gravity to the revolutionary ideas contained therein. In order to not impede the flow and to ensure intelligibility, some of the source material appears only in the English.
Last week I spoke about a topic which most people are completely unfamiliar with. It has great hashkafic implications, that there are four avos---patriarchs, not three, the fourth being Esav. It makes sense when you look at the story. A lot of people find this very difficult to accept. We’ve been taught that Esav was a tremendous rasha---evil-doer, which he was---there’s no question about that---so to introduce the concept of Esav as an av---patriarch (that’s how he started out and it’s what his spiritual potential is) is very difficult for many to swallow, to believe.
So, I want to quote sources to give it more credibility, what the RaMCHaL himself says, which I will read, and what Rashi himself indicates.
Patriarchy and Brotherhood
Last week, I also mentioned this midrash---exigetical commentary which says that, had Esav not become a rasha---evil-doer, he’d have produced six tribes and Ya’akov would have produced six. Clearly, this indicates that there is an equal “division of labor.” What is that labor?--whatever a person has to do as a patriarch. In order to give birth to a shevet--- tribe, you have to have the neshama---soul of an av---patriarch. A tribe cannot give birth to a tribe because the neshama of a shevet is much too low, so it requires the neshama of an av. Clearly, if Esav was to have had six tribes, this indicates equality, indicates unbelievable stature---at least when he started out.
The first source is a printed the sefer---book called “Ginzey RaMCHaL,” the writings of RaMCHaL. Within that collection is a book entitled “Kinas Ha’Shem Tsuvakus”
----Jealousy of the Lord of Hosts. What I will quote is in the second section, the topic entitled: “Inyan Esav”---the matter/topic of Esav. I’m going to read it. If you want to deny this, you can deny whatever you want but you will hear what RaMCHaL says.
Shorashim---Root Souls and Sefiros---Divine Forces
“Da”---know that “khi shoresh l’Esav”---root of Esav (who he really was) hayo b’rishona---was at first b’kedusha---in holiness. Originally, Esav, at the root, when he was a child, started out as a holy person. RaMCHaL continues about where Esav’s neshama was “located,” in which sefira. RaMCHaL says it was located, “b’gevuras tiferes”--- in gevurah of tiferes, as I mentioned last week.
Of the ten sefiros, there are what’s called the zion tachtonos---the lower seven. Of these seven, the first six are called “ze’ir anpin”---revealed aspect of G-D. we know that Avraham was chesed and Yitzchak was gevurah---as I mentioned last week---and Ya’akov was tiferes which is a “middle” sefira, a balance between chesed and gevurah. It is a sort of blend of the two, a product of their merger. Esav emerges from the sefira called “tiferes” but RaMCHal says he’s not tiferes but “gevurah she’b’tiferes”---gevurah within tiferes because tiferes has two “sides,” being a blend. It has a right and left side. The right side of the middle (Ya’akov) is chesed of tiferes and the left side of the middle (Esav) is gevurah of tiferes.
RaMCHaL is clearly saying that Esav’s neshama is located in, is the personification of, tiferes, but the gevurah of tiferes. We begin to see that Esav is no ordinary person. RaMCHaL continues to explain that, since tiferes is the balance, the “middle,” it is from the idea of of the “right side” of tiferes from which Ya’akov emerges. In other words, the neshama of Ya’akov emanates from the right side of tiferes. “Umibichinas ha’smahl, she bo Esav”---and from the aspect of the left side comes Esav.
Take a look at what RaMCHaL is doing, equating Ya’akov and Esav, both emerging from tiferes. The difference is that Ya’akov comes from the right side of tiferes, and Esav from the left. If both emerge from tiferes, they are equal in kedusha---holiness and, obviously, they are both avos---patriarchs. RaMCHal continues, “v’lochen haya t’umim”---therefore, they are twins. How can Esav and Ya’akov be twins? Now we know why.
We can ask how they can be twins when one is a rogue and one is a tzaddik. They are twins because they share the same origin---tiferes. I’m reading from the sefer---book of the RaMCHaL. See what he is saying!
Sefer “Malachi”says: “Haloh ach Esav l’ya’akov”---Behold! Esav is a brother to Ya’akov. That’s a tremendous relationship and alludes to a brotherhood which stems from the same origin. RaMCHaL continues: “ki b’emes b’madreiga achas hoyo b’techila”---because, in truth, they were, originally, on the identical level. What level? What area?---in kedusha---holiness.
RaMCHaL also points out that, though Yitzchak and Ishmael were brothers, children of Avraham, they were different. Yitzchak came from Sarah while Ishmael came from Hagar. They were not the same in kedusha. They had the same father but not the same mother. What the RaMCHaL is implying also is that Ishmael too was of tremendous stature, kodosh---holy in the beginning. Ishmael was a Jew just like Yitzchak but became a rasha. Although we know that Ishmael did teshuva---repented later on. We know that because he allowed Yitzchak to precede him in the burial-ritual when Avraham avinu died. Another indicator of Ishmael’s teshuva is that we have tanna’im named after him, for example, “Rabbi Ishmael.” He was the kohen gadol---high priest. How could you name a tana, name these exalted people, tzaddikim, after a rasha?---because he did teshuva, therefore, it could be done. These are all proofs that Ishmael’s origin was also in kedusha but it wasn’t as great as Ya’akov’s and Esav’s. Both are true avos whereas Yitzchak and Ishmael are not.
I must say, however, that Ishmael also had a formidable task of kedusha. The Chida (Chaim Yosef David Azulai 1724-1806), says this. If you take a look at the Ishmael’s children, we see that there are twelve children. Why? Since Ishmael was similar to an av, he also had to have twelve tribes. The Chida says this too. Ishmael is, obviously, not comparable to Yitzchak, but Yaakov and Esav are equal, at least at their inception, when they were born. These pairs of brothers are not ordinary people.
The RaMCHaL continues: “v’ta’avin”---You should understand “she’gam Esav hoya yochol l’hiyos kodosh”---that also Esav could have been holy “v’yehiyu shneihem bonim tovim l’Hashem”---and both could have been good children to G-D.
All this stuff is completely innovative and revolutionary but this is the RaMCHaL; this is kabbalah. By the way, the explanation as to who Esav really was, certainly in the beginning, answers hundreds of questions about what is going on. The interaction between Esav and Ya’akov shows us, as I pointed out in last week’s lecture, what the two tasks of the Jewish people are.
The RaMCHaL continues: “V’omer lach”---I will tell you “peulas kol echad meihem ma haya”---what the job was for each. First, RaMCHal tells you who they were in terms of what they could have been and now he will tell us what each one’s job was. In other words, why are there two? Why not just one, just Ya’akov?
What I’m about to share with you is very important; it explains a great deal of hashkafa. “Know that two things must be done,” says RaMCHaL. When both are done, they constitute the true tikkun---rectification of the briya---Creation. This is basic, that there are two fundamental jobs to be done and, together, they form true tikkun. One without the other would mean that half the tikkun is missing.
It says, the first aspect of the rectification is “tikkun ha’kedusha”--- rectification of holiness and is the “secret of the expansion of all the levels of holiness.” What is meant by this? Only a certain amount of kedusha, a certain amount of the gilui---revelation of the Ribono Shel Olam---Master of the Universe, the ohr---Divine Light, Divine flow of the sefiros---Divine emanations has come down. G-D wants to bring down all of the Light of the Divine forces. This is the first contribution of tikkun, to bring down the expansion of all the levels, the totality of the levels of holiness. This is the job of the Jews, to bring about the tikkun that this expansive flow can come down.
This is exactly what is going to happen during the messianic era; that is the tikkun. Suddenly, all the levels of holiness are brought down to this world through the merit of the avodah---service, the work of the Jews for 4000 years. “The expansion of holiness at every level” is the exact phrase RaMCHaL uses for this proliferation of holiness. That is the first objective of tikkun.
Now, he gives us the second objective of tikkun. It is “kefias l’sitra achra”---to subjugate the Satan “underneath” kedusha. What he means, therefore, is that the Satan---referred to as “the other side”--- must be rendered ineffectual, subjugated, dominated by kedusha, he and his entire kingdom. Kedusha rules. This is the tikkun of the entity called “Satan.” This entity must have absolutely no say whatsoever in diverting a person from holiness.
This explains what the two jobs are that constitute tikkun. What aspects of these jobs refer to Ya’akov and Esav? RaMCHaL tells us that the “expansion of holiness at every level” is Ya’akov’s job. The subjugation of the “other side” at all levels was Esav’s task.
As I said in last week’s lecture: Ya’akov’s job is to be involved in, to bring down, to expose, holiness, completely, at all levels. The second job, Esav’s, was to have been to do battle, and subdue, the evil inclination and the domination of kedusha, generally. Together, these two tasks, equally, constitute tikkun. This is why the brothers are equal.
The RaMCHal is saying this as a fact. This is not a drasha---commentary. Now he says a very interesting thing, referring to Esav. “B’emes she’haya eich yachol ze”---how can Esav do this? In truth, nobody could do this, subjugate the Satan “under” all the levels of kedusha. The only way it can be done is: “mi sheyotze mi shorsha”---only one who emerges from the root (of evil) can successfully do battle with the Satan. It’s seems that, in order to do battle with something, you must be of the same stock. Only then do you stand the chance to destroy it. “
“Joined at the Hip
We now begin to understand, which I will elaborate on, how Esav could do his job. Esav’s neshama, rooted as it was in the left side of tiferes, the gevurah side, emerges from the same root as that of the Satan. They were sort of “joined at the hip.” Esav could have destroyed the Satan had he remained righteous. This is a very important idea.
That’s why you find, later on, that when Ya’akov fights the malach---angel, Ya’akov wins. Who was that angel? Rashi says that the angel Ya’akov fought was the angel of Esav, the Satan himself. It’s amazing. Why is this angel the angel of Esav?---because they are “joined at the hip.” They both emanate from the same root. Esav is joined to the Satan. He can destroy the root of evil because his neshama is from that. He can vanquish the Satan or the Satan can vanquish him, take him over. G-D wants Esav to destroy the root of evil and its place relative to kedusha. Evil also emanates from holiness, from a Divine force. Since Esav comes from the root of evil, he has to be the one to destroy the root of evil to which he is connected. This is why Ya’akov fought Esav’s angel.
The problem was that Esav, we know, by that time, had become a rogue, a sinner. Therefore, instead of Esav destroying the Satan, the Satan dominated Esav, becoming sa’arei Esav---his angel. This is why Ya’akov had to fight him. It’s a beautiful understanding. We see who Esav really is, a holy person at a high level, an equal to Ya’akov.
RaMCHaL points out why Esav must be rooted in evil. It’s because it is Esav’s task to destroy the root of evil. Therefore, he must be connected to it. In that root where the sitra achra is located is the origin of the Satan and all the levels of evil.
Then the RaMCHaL says that the Satan himself is divided having a right and left side, “b’sod mitzrei v’ashur….”---in the secret of Egypt and Assyria, expresses that these two nations represent the right and left sides of the Satan. But the place wherein the Satan has to be subjugated to holiness is the same from wherein he emanates---tiferes, the “middle” sefira which is among the lower seven of the ten, called “zeir anpin.” That’s exactly who Esav was regarding the sefiros. RaMCHaL is not only telling us who Esav is, but he’s locating Esav and Ya’akov’s root sefiros and describing their avodah---tasks.
The RaMCHaL then says that he will explain this topic to demonstrate the incredible wisdom, the order, the structure of Creation that the “Emanator” created and how He conducts His world with unbelievable thought.
We know what tragedy ensued from Esav’s failure to subdue his sitra achra, culminating in his fall. The Satan was able to convince him to sin. As a result of that, of course, Esav became a rasha and his entire task to subjugate evil under holiness dissolved.
Torah and the Message from Moshe to Edom
I want now to read from the Torah itself. For those who doubt this, despite hearing from RaMCHaL, I’m going to read from parshas---Torah portion “Chukas” in sefer---book of “Bamidbar.” It’s after the chukas parah adumah---law of the red calf, fourth aliyah, chapter 20, verse 14.
Moshe sent angels from Kadesh, where they were at that time, to the king of Edom. The purpose of the message the angels carried to the kingdom of Edom was to gain permission to traverse their land which is Har Seir in the south of Israel. Their territory is in what we call the “Sinai Peninsula,” and Moshe wants to cross into their southern territory. What did the message say?
“Thus says your brother Israel”….you know all the difficulties and travails that found us. Our forefathers went to Egypt many, many days---alluding to 230 years---and they were bad to us and we screamed to G-D and He heard our voice and sent an angel to take us out of Egypt. We are now in Kadesh at the edge of your border. Please allow us to cross your land. We won’t enter your fields or touch your vineyards, won’t drink (your water)….
In other words, the king of Edom was being assured that the Israelites would not disturb, not harm anything and just wanted passage through their territory. Edom refused. They, instead, proceeded to confront the nation with their entire army to stop Israel from entering and, therefore, had to go further south, then east.
We notice here that the message Moshe sent to the king of Edom begins with “thus says your brother,” alluding to that relationship between Ya’akov/Israel and Esav/Edom. Rashi wonders why Moshe is mentioning “brotherhood” here. He should just say, “Thus says Israel.” Rashi wonders as to why it is worded this way.
Listen carefully to Rashi’s answer. He explains what Moshe really meant:
We are brothers---obviously---descendants of Avraham avinu. What was Avraham told? “Your children will be strangers in the land for four hundred years” is what G-D told Avraham, meaning that his descendants would be in Egypt for hundreds of years.
Rashi continues to explain Moshe’s intent: Who are Avraham’s descendants?---you and I, the Jews and Edom! Upon both of us has been the obligation to fulfill the prophecy, as brothers. You know all the difficulties that befell us because that is part of the prophecy. Esav too should have been involved with us in Egypt. The Egyptians should have been masters over us both, not just the Hebrews/Jews. It should have included the Edomites.
Esav, however, said, “No way!” I’m not interested in fulfilling this prophecy.
What Moshe meant, according to Rashi, is: your father, Esav, separated from our father, Ya’akov, because he didn’t want to be involved in the obligation to fulfill that prophecy. Esav left to his land abandoning Ya’akov, his brother, as if saying “I don’t want it; you take it!”
We understand, therefore, that the prophecy to Avraham fell upon his descendants which included Edom, the nation that came from Esav. Why both? As descendants of Avraham, both were part of the tikkun process, both had their respective roles. The exile in Egypt was a necessity in the process of tikkun.
I’ve mentioned before why the Jews were in Egypt for hundreds of years. What had they done to deserve that? Since Avraham took over the job from the nations of the world to enact tikkun, to rectify all the sins of all the previous generations before his, having failed, G-D removed both the task and their connection to the spiritual worlds required to enact tikkun. No longer mankind’s role, it fell to the Jews alone to be strangers in a land of enormous temptation and remain righteous. In so doing, they would rob the Satan of his nourishment, that which he got from the sins of the generations before Avraham. That’s the tikkun, isn’t it!
Esav’s Job Goes to the Jews
When you think about it, it’s the tikkun of Esav because the Jews went to Egypt to remain righteous---“that your children will be strangers in the land”---which means that they will avoid temptation, will take out the
shefa---flow, that holiness which the Satan had gleaned from the sins of the previous generations. The Jews went to Egypt because they had taken on the responsibility of tikkun, the same responsibility that was Esav’s.
The point here is that both nations---Yisrael and Edom--- were to have taken on the responsibility, were to have gone to Egypt, become slaves, done the tikkun. Moshe is alerting the king of Edom that your “father” abrogated it, “threw” it upon Ya’akov, our “father,” so do us a favor; since we took on the job that you should have shared because tikkun was Esav’s job too, let us cross your land. This is the logic of the statement Moshe communicated to the king of Edom.
This is what Rashi says. This is also what RaMCHaL says.
This underscores what the fundamental job of a Jew is, to bring down holiness in all its measures and expand its domination over the Satan. Ya’akov “dwells in tents,” learning Torah, while Esav is the “man of the field,” venturing into the world unsusceptible to temptations of the Satan, to the sitrah achra, to the evil around him. As I said in last week’s lecture, because Esav was connected to the shoresh---root of the Satan, as the RaMCHaL says, he could vanquish the Satan at the level of shoresh---the root soul! The only thing left would be the “branches.”
Who would destroy the Satan in terms of the “branches of tumah”--- the twelve tribes and its members down through time. When you look at Jews, you see this split between those engaged in doing acts of kedusha---learning Torah, involved in mitzvot, yeshivas, Torah education---and those involved in the world who have jobs, earn their living, fulfill other worldly pursuits while avoiding the temptations of the prevailing culture, avoiding assimilation.
Two Tasks, Two Brothers, Two Messiahs
Ultimately, these two tasks of the Jews are those that belong to the meshichim---messiahs, Mashiach ben Yosef and Mashiach ben David. Hispashtus kedusha---proliferation of holiness is the task of Mashaich ben David. The one to destroy evil, to remain righteous is Mashiach ben Yosef. This is why there are two messiahs; there are, have been, two tasks like there were the twin brothers, Ya’akov and Esav. As I’ve said previously, Esav’s task was transferred to Yosef which is why he went down to Egypt, remained righteous, dominated Egypt. That task is also that of Mashiach ben Yosef.
Now we understand how the story of Ya’akov and Esav is the forerunner to the entire history of the Jews.
Q & A
Participant: The only way to get to the root of the Satan, the root of Esav to destroy the Satan….
R’Kessin: When Mashiach ben David comes, the Satan is destroyed. That is really what t’chias ha’meisim---resurrection of the dead is. When he is thrown out of the physical world, the dead can arise because death does not exist. The zoama---degradation, disintegration, entropy that is the projection of the Satan in the physical universe, is expelled. That will be the actualization of the Satan’s death.
Participant: So, Esav’s job won’t ever be complete until Mashiach ben David comes.
R’Kessin: Yes. Correct. That’s why Mashiach ben Yosef is really the ultimate continuation of the job of Esav.
Participant: So, we need somebody from Esav to get rid of evil…that’s what Trump was trying to do.
R’Kessin: Well, yes, that’s a good point. Trump, as I’d mentioned, is a messianic figure---not that he’s mashiach---as I’ll talk about next week. That’s what Trump really is. He is part of Esav being restored because Esav, in the end---which I will also talk about next week---does teshuva. Trump is part of that repenting. He’s the tov she’b’Esav---the good aspect of Esav, not that Trump is perfect, obviously; he has many flaws but the overall job of Trump is to battle evil: the Democratic Party, the “progressives,” the “liberals,” the establishment, all of whom are very evil. It’s not just anti-Semitism versus anti-G-d---they’re against religion. Trump’s job is to fight the establishment but his other job is to assist the Jewish people by, for example, saying that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews, that Jerusalem and the Golan is theirs. He is to finish Esav’s job.
Participant: If Esav will do teshuva, there’s actually that prophecy; it’s in Sanhedrin 97 about doing teshuva and that’s when we get redeemed. Is that part of this? Is this Esav?
R’Kessin: Esav is part of the return.
Participant: When we do teshuva to be redeemed, that part of it, of Esav, meaning like all…
Participant: The Jews’ job is to do the tikkun. It’s not Esav’s job nor Trump’s job. He assists the Jews in doing the tikkun. It’s an important distinction. Esav cannot do it, but at least he’s no longer an enemy as he was for thousands of years. The prophecy says “rav y’avod tzair”---the elder will serve the younger.
R’Kessin: Chazal—sages tell us that the pig, which is treif---unkosher, represents Esav. We know that, someday, pork will be permitted for consumption. If Esav represents pork, and it will someday be kosher, then this suggests that Esav repents.
Participant: How can a pig become kosher if it doesn’t have the kosher signs?
R’Kessin: It means that either it will chew its cud, because it ordinarily doesn’t or its anatomy will change, or the commandment will be cancelled.
Participant: Isn’t Esav compared to the pig in that he pretended to be “kosher,” to be pious, religious, when he was, in actuality, sinning?
R’Kessin: Yes, that’s Esav the deceiver.
Participant: It’s like the pig, the same characteristic.
R’Kessin: Exactly. It’s like the pig sticking out his foot with the split hoof and saying: See! I’m kosher! I have split hooves. But he’s treif. Like that, Esav is a fraud, a deceiver, an imposter. Chazal tell us that, in the end, pig will be kosher in whatever way, because Esav will have done teshuva. It all lines up perfectly, integrated.
Participant: Just like Ya’akov was fighting the angel of Esav, the Satan, isn’t that, technically, what we’re doing now? As the Jewish nation, we’re fighting the Satan to overcome it, to finally finish the tikkun and reveal the mashiach.
R’Kessin: Yes, on one side. On the other side, the Jews are falling, disappearing. The only Jews doing the tikkun, if you think about it, are the religious right now.
Participant: By learning, practicing the laws of guarding one’s tongue (shmiras ha’loshon), that’s one of the main ways to fight the Satan and finish the tikkun?
R’Kessin: Yeah, I mentioned that last week, two weeks ago….the critical thing is to stop the kitrugim---heavenly prosecutions by not speaking loshon ha’ra. That’s why this subject has become prominent, has been given tremendous publicity, just like in Egypt, because G-D wants us to refrain from loshon ha’ra to stop the heavenly prosecutions.