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Weekly Hashkafa Shiur #116 - Esav - The Fourth Av

Given 11/21/2022

There's a comment I want to make concerning last week's shiur, that the reason for the elections was to see if people would return and reject the amoral position of the Progressives; they had their chance. At least, apparently, the House is now Republican, Conservative, so that is a good sign. Hopefully, they can now launch many investigations against those who have, in many areas of the country, committed gruesome atrocities; the “January 6th committee” in terms of the Department of Justice, the FBI, all these agencies that have become politicized.

This could be a positive development indicating that, maybe, the Ribono Shel Olam does allow some aspect of America to try to redeem itself. That's important, that, somehow, there is an aspect of the country that has power for the good to restore good, to expose Biden and his family for the criminal activities that they've done. Biden’s acceptance of bribes isn’t merely greed on his own behalf; it's that he's taking bribes from an enemy country and that is called “treason.” It's far more than just a matter for impeachment due to being incompetent, ineffectual; it’s treason. Let's see what happens.


This shiur should be a merit for the health and success of the families of Regina bas Yosef Reuven and Yeshaya Ben Israel, Benyamin Wolf ben Zvi Hersch, and Baruch ben Benyamin Wolf. It is also a refuah shlemah for Rina bas Sol, and for the l'iluy neshama of Avraham ben Amsel and Sara Nina bat Ema, Amen!

Esav and Yaakov, the Hidden Story based on the RaMCHaL

This week is parasha—Torah portionToldos” which I’ve spoken extensively about, the story of Yaakov and Esav, especially in terms of current events. Since this week is parashas “Toldos,” which is about the birth of Yaakov and Esav, I think it'll be interesting to examine a very interesting aspect of the Chumash—Five Books of Moses. The narrative that is given over in the Chumash, especially in Bereishis—Genesis, is multi-layered. You could read the Chumash on one level, the narrative literal level, and, of course, it recounts the events occurring. What is also interesting about a parasha in the Torah is that there's a second layer, a hidden layer, of the story. The words that describe the “upper” layer are the same words used to describe the hidden story; that's very unusual. It would be very interesting, as a demonstration of what this means, to explore what the hidden story is.

What I'm going to say is going to be very surprising to most people because most people have never heard about who Esav really is. Obviously, the Torah describes him as a tremendous rasha—evildoer, which he is, but there's something else very interesting going on and it has a special relevance today in terms of current events. I’ll read from the RaMCHaL, what he says, because you need to provide credibility for these ideas.

I'm going to read from a sefer—book called “Kinat Ha’Shem Tzivokot”—Jealousy of the Lord of Hosts; that's the title of the sefer. The one who wrote the sefer is Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (RaMCHaL) and it is in a green sefer called the “Ginzei Ramchal.” In the “Ginzei Ramchal” there's this sefer called “Kinot Hashem Tzivokot” and it is on page, kuf-yud-aleph—111. I'm going to read it and explain and, from this basic idea that the RaMCHaL brings down, there forms an incredible understanding, not only of what happened thousands of years ago but also even of today.

The RaMCHaL starts a paragraph called “Inyan Esav”—the subject matter of Esav. It says the following: “da”—know, that the root of Esav, at first, was in “kedusha”—holiness. The true root of Esav, who is considered a tremendous rasha, really stems from great holiness. This, automatically, augurs what's coming, what this psak of the RaMCHaL says.

Esav’s root was not evil but was of tremendous holiness. He even explains where it was kabbalistically. The RaMCHaL says “gevuras tiferes zer anpin.” What this means and is important to understand is that G-D created the world using certain forces, spiritual forces, an understanding of which is beyond us. There are ten of them with the three upper ones called the “gimmel rishonos.” These forces create realities. The upper three create a reality called Olam Ha’ba—Future World. Those forces are so sublime, that they actually create the Future World.

The lower seven of the total ten create Olam Ha’Ze—this world which consists of several sections. We live in what's called the “Olam Ha’Shafel”—lower world, the physical universe, which scientists estimate is 13.7 billion light years across. One light year is six trillion miles. The distance that light can travel in a year is six trillion miles travelling at 186,000 miles per second. A light year is really a measure of, not time, but distance. Anyway, the seven lower sephiros which comprise this world are: “chesed,” “gvurah,”” tiferes,” “netzach,” “hod,” “yesod,” and “malkhut.” The upper three create Olam Ha’Ba, as I said, and those sephiros are called: “keter,” “chochmah,” and “binah.”

The seven that create Olam Ha’Ze manifest themselves in certain individuals in a very strong way. In other words, these forces, in certain individuals, dominate very strongly. The sephira of chesed, which is kindness, dominated very strongly in Avraham Avinu—very strong. That's why he was so much into hachnasat orchim—inviting guests, hospitality. He was an supremely kind and gentle person. He just loved to do acts of kindness for people; that was his nature. He was, very much, a concentrated form of the sephira of chesed.

Yitzhak was a very concentrated form of gevurah—strength, but not “strength” in terms of subduing an outside force. It's the sort of strength to subdue one's inner inclinations, a tremendous ability to restrain or restrict one’s behavior from doing they want to do.

The third of the seven called “tiferes,” or in kabbalistic language is called “ZA” which means “Zeir Anpin”—small face. the middle, between chesed and gevurah, is tiferes. Tiferes is a mix of chesed and gevurah.

Who represents tiferes? The answer is very strange. Tiferes is a middle, mediated between chesed and gevurah. Tiferes strongly represents—very strongly—two people because every middle has a right side and a left side of that middle. The right side of the middle of tiferes is represented by Yaakov Avinu. That spiritual force called “tiferes,” which is mediated between chesed and gevurah, focuses on Yaakov Avinu who is the right side of tiferes. The left side of tiferes focuses on Esav. Both of these twin brothers had this middle sephira, this spiritual force, manifest within them. Again, the right side of tiferes is Yaakov, and the left side is Esav.

That's the underlying basis for Esav’s originating from very great holiness because Esav's neshama was connected to, tied to, tiferes, but the left side of tiferes, that of gevurah in tiferes. Therefore, Esav had powerful internal strength. His origin, his “shoresh”—root is connected to one of the three sephiros, but on the left side. His origin is a direct sephira sohe has this incredible origin in holiness. That's what the RaMCHaL is saying; that's what it means that, in the beginning he was connected to superlative holiness. I'm just explaining some of the kabbalistic concepts.

The RaMCHaL continues with a perush, a commentary, which says “And from the right side, (chesed) Yaakov Avinu emerges.” His neshama is connected to the sephira of tiferes on the right side where chesed predominates. In the category or in the concept of “left side,” Esav emerges. What is so interesting is that Yaakov and Esav, both of them, emerge from the same sephira except one emerged from the right side of tiferes—Yaakov, and the other emerged from the left side of tiferes—Esav.

The RaMCHaL says, “'and that's why they were twins” despite the fact, which we know, that Yaakov and Esav had completely different types of personalities. How in the world could they be twins? Were they fraternal twins or were they identical twins? If they were fraternal, they were incredibly alike, and if they were identical, well then, of course they would be alike. Probably they were identical in some way because we know that, when they wanted to bury Yaakov after he died in Egypt, a whole entourage went with Yaakov to the Me’aras Ha’Machpelah, the cave of the avos—patriarchs. Unexpectedly, Esav appears and said: Wait a minute! I deserve to be buried here, not Yaakov, my brother! He was holding up, delaying, the burial. A person named Hushim, the son from the shevet—tribe of Dan didn't understand what was going on being deaf or hard-of-hearing, but he saw that Esav was impeding the burial. He came at Esav from behind and cut off his head, chopped his head right off. The head of Esav—this is a famous chazal—bounced and fell into the coffin of Yaakov and it lies at the feet of Yaakov, lies buried in the Me’aras Ha’Machpelah, the cave of Machpelah.

Why did he come from behind Esav to chop his head off? He couldn't look at Esav because Esav looked just like his brother, Yaakov, so beheading him was too much to bear. It would have seemed as though he were cutting off Yaakov's head. In any case, he cuts off his head and that's where it lies.

Therefore, it seems that Esav and Yaakov, in many ways, were identical. It’s interesting that the head of Esav of lies at the feet of Yaakov buried in the Me’aras Ha’Machpelah. Could you imagine that Esav is buried with the avo--patriarchs and the imahos—matriarchs! It's astounding! That, itself, is proof that some aspect of Esav—his head, not his body—was really kadosh because it was a direct connection to one of the sephiros; this is what the RaMCHaL says.

There's also a pasuk—verse, in Malachi, “Ach Esav l’Yaakov“—behold! Esav is a brother to Yaakov and this is before he became a rasha. This is the concept that Esav and Yaakov are really brothers and they're both kedoshim. In the beginning, they were holy people, both of them.

That's an incredible concept! The RaMCHaL continues, “Because, in truth, they were at one level in the beginning.” In other words, Esav was at the exact same level as Yaakov Avinu. We know that Avraham was an av—patriarch, which is the root soul of the Jewish people. We know Yitzhak was a patriarch, a root soul of the Jewish people, and a third av, is Yaakov Avinu. The RaMCHaL is saying something really astonishing, that, in the beginning, before Esav became a rasha, they were at the exact same level in holiness. That means Esav was an av—patriarch!

What I'm telling you most people never heard of, but it comes out that Esav was the fourth av, the fourth patriarch. So, there weren’t three patriarchs; there were really four: Avraham, Yitzhak, Yaacov and Esav, and they were equal, a very important concept. This was not the case by Yitzhak and Ishmael. Avraham Avinu had Yitzhak and, with Hagar, he had Ishmael. They were not equal in kedusha but Yaakov and Esav were!

Then the RaMCHaL says, “And you should understand that even Esav could have been a kadosh,” that even Esav, had he done his job, remained a tzadik—righteous individual, he would have remained an av. Could you imagine Esav as a patriarch among the Jewish people? The RaMCHaL adds, “And they would have been both banim tovim—good children to G-D.

You have to understand what the RaMCHaL says, that Esav was an av equal to Yaakov Avinu. There is also a midrash—exegetical commentary that says that, had Esav remained a tzadik, Yaakov would have had six tribes, not twelve, and Esav would have had six tribes. That makes sense because Esav is an av, a patriarch, so, logically, he would have had six tribes. It's amazing!

I'll tell you something more interesting. There's a rishon, meaning an “early author,” that lived about 800 years ago called the “Paneach Raza.” He was called a “rishon.” He says something remarkable, that the gematria, the numerical value of “Esav,” is twice that of “Yaakov.” If you add up the numerical value of Yaakov with the letter 'vav,’ then it's one half of “Esav.” Why? He says that, had Esav remained an av, a tzadik, he would have been twice as great as Yaakov Avinu. Could you imagine that! Esav could have been twice as great in holiness as Yaakov because he had an incredibly difficult task, which I will talk about. This, automatically, changes everything that you know about Esav.

We now have a completely different understanding of who Esav was originally, that he was the equal—if not the greater—of Yaakov Avinu and, had he done his job, he would have had six tribes. We would have four avos, four patriarchs.

The RaMCHaL goes on to explain about their jobs, their missions.

We know the job of Avraham Avinu. Avraham Avinu manifested, represented, symbolized chesed, tremendous kindness, right? His job was, basically, to bring the belief in G-D to the people of the world. He would travel, which is what G-D told him to do—"lech lecha”—go out, take yourself out from your land, and so on. The job of Avraham Avinu was to bring people to believe in G-D which he did as we see from the chumash where it relates about “all the souls that Avraham Avinu made, and Sara....”

The job of Yitzchak was different. His job was to shape his character to be inordinately G-D-fearing. He worked on himself. Whereas Avraham Avinu was there to convince others to believe in G-D, Yitzhak basically worked on himself because he was rooted in gevurah. He had the extraordinary ability to do this, an exceptional ability to say “no” to his drives and temptations. His job was to perfect his personality to an extraordinary extent; that's what Yitzchak did.

But Yaakov and Esav did not have either of those jobs. The job of Yaakov and Esav was rooted in tiferes, a very interesting job. One job was Yaakov's and the Torah actually hints at what his job is: “yoshev b’ohalim”—sit in tents. What does that mean, “sitting in tents”? It doesn't mean that he's a homebody; it means that he sat in his tent and learned Torah. His job was to bring down kedusha, holiness, by immersing himself in the Torah itself. We find that, when he fled after he took the brachos, the blessings—which I'll talk about—from Esav, he went to the yeshiva of Shem v'Ever. We'll understand why, later.

Yaakov’s job was to enhance, augment holiness, to bring down what's called the “shefa,” the flow of Divine energy or Divine force to this world by immersing himself in the Torah itself. That was Yaakov Avinu's job. It’s called “hispashtus kedusha b’chol madreiga zeha”—the expansion of holiness in all its levels.

You have to consider that there is only a certain amount of kedusha, holiness, that can come down from the sephiros. The job of a Jew is to bring down the rest. That will automatically perfect the world. The world was created by means of the ten sephiros, but these sephiros only gave out a limited amount of their Divine energy. That limitation caused the world to linger in a state of physicality. If you can influence the sephiros to come out with all their energy, this world would change into Olam Ha’Ba because the sephiros are the triggers that transform this world, radically, into Olam Ha’Ba, and that is the job of the Jew. That was Yaakov’s job and it is what he did, brought kedusha down to this world, an incredible tikkun—rectification. That's what hispashtus kedusha is, to bring down holiness. That was the job of Yaakov Avinu.

Now, that was Yaakov. What was the job of Esav? Esav's job was not in terms of bringing down kedusha, but in terms of destroying the Satan, because—remember—there are two fundamental forces in the world; one is kedusha from the sephiros, and the other is a tremendous amount of what I always label the 'zohama' of the Satan. So how do you destroy the Satan?

Esav’s job, which is very important, was to destroy the Satan. I had mentioned in last week's shiur that the Satan is a usurper, a thief. He steals the kedusha from the sephiros when the Jews sin. Therefore, the job of Esav as a patriarch, which means he had enormous spiritual strength, was to take back all the kedusha of the sephiros, called the “sparks of holiness.” He could take it back, away from the Satan and, in so doing, obliterate the Satan. It's an exclusive job. It's as if the job of Esav is to clean the house of all the filth and the dirt while the job of Yaakov is to decorate the house and bring in all the beautiful, fancy furniture. Esav was to contend with the Satan, ultimately, to subdue the Satan by taking back the profuse amount of Divine energy the Satan had procured because of the sins of the Jews.

Each one has a job in terms of the tikkun. The job of Yaakov in tikkun is to bring down holiness in enormous amounts which he did by immersing himself in Torah. He carried out what “yoshev ohalim” means. Esav was to subdue evil in all its levels by retrieving Divine energy, reversing the result of the theft, bringing the sparks back to the side of holiness. That was the job of Esav.

How was that to be done?—by not sinning. More than that, it could be accomplished by entering the environment of evil and withstanding its temptations. Automatically, this weakens the Satan, because, first, your kedusha will come to you. Second, by remaining steadfast in your mitzvos in the face of tremendous temptation, you take back the kedusha that the Satan has. Two specific jobs were to have been done.

The job of Esav was to take back the sparks by remaining incredibly righteous. That's why he was called “ish sadeh”—man of the field. That phrase is not a description of his occupation—no. He was a “man of the field” in that he would go into the world and be tempted by all the enticements the world has to offer and yet remain righteous. In this endeavor that way, he would restore all the sparks of holiness.

Both of them labored in terms of the tikkun. This is the fundamentals of who these two people were, basic information that most people have never heard of, but I am reading the RaMCHaL.

The RaMCHaL continues by asking: how is Esav able to do it? The Ribono Shel Olam connected Esav’s neshama, who is an av, to the evil of the Satan. Esav, as a patriarch, is actually connected to the root of evil. He’s connected to—it's not really a neshama—but, he’s connected to the “soul” of the Satan himself. That is why, when Esav acts, it directly affects the soul, so to speak, of the Satan. It comes out, therefore, that Esav is directly connected to the Satan in order for Esav's acts to subdue the Satan and, ultimately, destroy him. He would have had to be born connected to evil in order to subdue evil. This he could do by resisting temptations; to do so would destroy the Satan. His soul would have to come out of an evil place, the satanic domain, in order for his actions to successfully destroy the Satan and bring back all the sparks of holiness the Satan held. That's a very important idea. The RaMCHaL is saying this; I'm reading from the RaMCHaL.

Now we can understand many subtleties from parashas Toldos, subtleties which are challenging to understand. I'll give you one example. We know that Rivka, before she became pregnant with Yaakov and Esav, was barren and so she and Yitzchak prayed. She became pregnant and is experiencing tumultuous pains. Like it says in the Torah “v’yitrotzetzu ha’banim bekirba.” The two kids are actually struggling with each other inside her uterus. She doesn't know what's going on and, obviously, it must have been very painful.

What she experienced is something interesting, that whenever she went by a place that was holy, the one who would try to break out was Yaakov, as an embryo or fetus, which is incredible. He was attracted to the holiness of a place. Whenever she went past a location that featured avodah zarah, some place of idol worship, the one who would try to break out is Esav.

This prompts a question which would be hard for most to answer. Could you imagine that, not as an infant or a toddler, but as an embryo or fetus in utero, this life already has this yetzer ha’ra—evil inclination? We've never heard of such a thing before! How can an infant that isn't even born have this? It's incredible! It's not normal.

if he had this stupefying yetzer ha’ra before he was even born, what do you want from the guy? The man obviously has no free will. How can he conquer this type of inclination if he wants to break out before he's even born? He has no free will; he's finished! Why then is he called the “rasha”? Without free will, how could it be his fault? He didn't ask for this so how in the world can you attribute evil to this embryo?

Were you to ask these questions of most people, what they would answer? Let me tell you which I believe to be the answer. The questions are solid, like I said, because we've never seen anything like this—that’s number one—and he had no free will, so why is he called a rasha? This phenomenon contradicts the notion of how he became evil.

The RaMCHaL supplies an answer. In order for Esav to destroy the Satan, his soul had to be connected to the root of evil, which is the Satan himself. It's not that he wanted to do evil. His temperament had a powerful yetzer ha’ra, a spectacular inclination toward evil, because he's connected to the yetzer ha’ra in order to destroy the yetzer ha’ra! That's why, from before birth, as an embryo, he's connected to the Satan to destroy the Satan. He has an innate proclivity toward doing evil, including worshipping idols.

Of course, he's not held guilty because he's an embryo or fetus. He's not bar-mitzvahed yet, right? It's not that he committed a sin. The real question is: how in the world does an embryo have this kind of inclination? So, again, as the RaMCHaL tells us, since his job as a patriarch was to destroy the Satan, his soul was connected to the root of evil. If he would do an act which is a mitzvah, it would destroy the Satan by taking away the kedusha that the Satan was entitled to take due to the sins of Jews. That’s the beautiful answer. He wasn't considered to be guilty because he wanted to go to the avodah zarah because his evil inclination was prescribed in order to fulfill his job, as the RaMCHaL explains.

Now, you'll say: I can understand if Esav’s inclination is connected to the root of evil; fine, I understand. This is why he's running to places of idol worship because that is in keeping with his temperament. But if he's born with this incredible yetzer ha’ra, connected to the root of evil—even with good cause to vanquish the evil and so on, then he has no chance of kedusha! Imagine somebody having such a profoundly nefarious yetzer ha’ra—he's finished! It's like being addicted to heroin or fentanyl, right? How do you break away from that?

I will tell you something fascinating. Because Esav was on the side of gevurah, the left side of tiferes, he resembled Yitzhak. The left side gives you the awesome ability to control your drives, an ability which Yitzchak had. Esav had the same tenacity because he was connected to tiferes on the left side. Therefore, Esav could easily have controlled the yetzer ha’ra. Therefore, he had free will. The fact that he didn't control it was because he freely chose to do evil. It's a very important idea, that Esav had the ability to control the Satan because he had awesome gevurah, might, self-discipline. Esav did have free will.

I can show you something fascinating as proof. One of Esav's character traits was arrogance. I can assume that he must have walked around feeling that he was greater than everybody. We can discern that from the chumash, that he was an incredible baal gayvah—arrogant person. If you ask yourself: what is the most difficult thing for a baal gaavah to do, somebody with an enormous ego? The greatest challenge is to submit to authority. Think about that. Somebody who is very conceited has a very difficult time submitting to authority because they think: who are they to tell me what to do? I am greater than they! It is logical to presume that Esav would have great difficulty submitting to any authority, which would include his father, difficulty manifesting kibbud av va'em—honoring one’s father and mother.

Today we see teenagers telling their parents to jump in the lake. We know that one of the problems of today's time is that there's no respect for parents or grandparents or authority because teenagers think that they are G-D's gift to the world—not all of them, obviously—but this is part of the problem, without going into psychologically of what happens.

This should have been true of Esav, but it wasn't. One of the greatest of the rabbis, Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel said, “I was the greatest man in my generation who observed honoring father and mother but I discovered that Esav was much greater than I in honoring his father and mother, especially his father.”

Esav had profound respect for his father. In fact, he was the greatest man in the world; this is what Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel says. In fact, he was probably one of the greatest men who ever lived in regard to the extent of the honor that he gave his father, Yitzhak. It was boundless; that's what Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel says.

It’s counterintuitive. If true that Esav was this very arrogant person, how in the world did he subdue himself to honor his father who was, obviously, the authority figure in the household, directing him? When Esav wanted to control his tendency toward conceit and arrogance, he could control it. He wanted to control it with his father. He had the might, had the ability to restrain his arrogance when it came to his father. Where did he get that from? That's who Esav was, someone with great ability to exert self-discipline if he wanted to.

It's true that he had powerful inclination to sin because, for his job required it. His neshama was connected to the root of evil in order to destroy it. Also bestowed upon him, because he was a direct expression of the sephira of tiferes, was the power to restrain himself from evil. So, despite his arrogance, his egomania, he could control it if he wanted to and exhibit the greatest exhibition of love toward father and mother, particularly kibbud av, that the world has ever known.

Therefore, he had free will. Obviously, G-D is not going to assign him this type of job without some type of protection because then he’d have lacked free will. If you connect him to the root of evil, he doesn't stand a chance to be holy, to be impervious to temptation. Not only did Esav stand a chance, he was the greatest practitioner, according to Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel, to ever do kibbud av.

Could you imagine what that is? The Gemara gives a demonstration of that. How did he exhibit this? Whenever he wanted to speak to his father, he wouldn't just barge in. He would change into his bigdei Shabbos, the clothing that you wear when you attend a special event or dress up for Shabbos or a holiday, or a wedding. He would change into that clothing and only then enter his father’s room. To him, seeing his father was one of the greatest occasions one could experience. Who does that? That's how much he honored his father, how much he loved his father.

Returning to the prophecy given from the “house” of Shem v'Ever about two great nations, one always being superior to the other, never equal, the nevuah Rivka received ends with, “And the older will serve the younger.” It’s a very important idea that, ultimately, the older son, Esav, will wind up serving the younger. We know how this was expressed—which I will dwell on later—by providing persecutions of the younger, thereby providing atonement to Yaakov and his descendants, or service by means of doing teshuva. Esav would repent and assist in the tikkun process.

That pasuk, which I spoke about many times over many years, is the basis for my belief that Donald Trump is Esav doing teshuva. Based on his behavior, we see this in his recognition of Israel when he moved the embassy to Jerusalem, when he acknowledged the Golan as belonging to Israel, in his role in enacting the Abraham Accords. What he did was just absolutely amazing because Trump, in many ways, is a symbol of Esav. In fact, Esav came out all red and Trump is red, depicted as red. He has done tremendous good for the Jewish people. That happens at the End of Days. There is a chazal that says that, at the End of Days, Esav will do teshuva and help Yaakov Avinu which is a fascinating concept in light of current events.

Okay, I think we're getting a handle of Yaakov and Esav, who these twin brothers really were. What happens next? The pasuk continues. Esav is born all “red.” Why? Redness is associated with evil; I'm not saying, if somebody's a redhead, that they're evil, no, but the fact that Esav had a reddish complexion indicates he was a warrior, a fighter of wars, one who fights with the Satan; that was his purpose, to subdue the Satan. This task and its accompanying temperament was reflected in his physical countenance.

And then it says “v’yigdalu ha’nearim”—and the youths grew up. Rashi says that Yaakov and Esav were “equal.” Before they were 13-years-old, Yaakov and Esav were equal.

Could you imagine Yaakov at 13 years old? He's probably an illui—genius, and he's a tzadik. We are familiar with the older Yaakov Avinu but, when you think about it, the guy must have been an incredible kid. This is Yaakov Avinu, even at 13. The Torah tells us that the “youths grew up,” using one expression for both kids, implying equivalence. Rashi says you could not tell one kid from the other. It's astounding! It means they looked the same, were at the same level of kedusha when they were little and that's even though Esav had this strong tendency to do evil. Could you imagine how much he controlled himself? They were both holy as kids. Esav, obviously, began to change. He had free will.

Then it says that Yitzchak loved Esav. Why? It's hard to know if he loved him more than Yaakov, but he certainly had a soft spot, a very big soft spot, for Esav. It’s because the job of Yitzchak also stemmed from the side of gevurah, conferring the attribute of restraint and restriction. This attribute was necessary for doing the job of tikkun. It requires one to perfect one’s personality.

Esav, like his father, had this formidable ability to restrain himself from enticements compelled by the Satan. The Zohar puts it in a way that reminds us of the expression, “birds of a feather flock together.” Yitzchak loved Esav because Esav’s job was in the same “area” of tikkun that Yitzchak was. Yitzchak realized that there was continuity between Esav’s avodah—service and his own. That's why he loved Esav more. Esav was a reflection of him and his task.

When it says “ki tzayid befiv”—because game was in his mouth (Gen. 25:28), what it's alluding to is Esav doing the job. He was killing the Satan until 13 years of age. It says of Rivka that she loved Yaakov. Then we come to the story of the sale of the birthright, which I will get to next week.

You begin to see that there's a subterranean narrative. Most people look at the narrative of the Torah from what's called the “upper story,” but there's an entire hidden story. The psukim, the verses, tell both stories, the revealed one, the overt one, and the covert story. I'm trying to show you that the covert story is actually using the same psukim, the same verses, which intone the literal, upper one.

I will continue next week and then you'll understand that chumash can be learned at a whole different level where the real story is. The real story is, obviously, in many ways, very different from the literal, the “pshat” understanding. If studied in the context of the tikkun process, who these people really were, what their jobs were, what the success was—were they successful, were they not?—we discern that Esav, as an av, was not successful. That left the tremendous problem: who is going to take over the job of Esav?

Any questions?

Q & A

Participant: Why the head of Esav, why that part of the body, according to what you just spoke about, with the tiferes and the yetzer ha’ra that he had to overcome; why the head?

R’Kessin: Because the head is intellectual. The body is the seat of the emotions, especially the heart.The body is the seat of the taivas, the drives that get us to sin. The head, however, is the seat of logic, of rationality, or what's called the “yetzer tov”—good inclination. That was still pure. That faculty, Esav’s ability to reason, remained intact. It’s that he was a slave to his body, a slave to the drives that emanate from his guf—body. Those impulses took prominence, took over. Having been attached to the Satan, he was really an av. That was his origin, even though he sinned. That’s why it’s the head.

Participant: Did Esav and Yaakov know they were avot?

R’Kessin: Probably not. It's hard to know what they knew. I'm sure Yitzchak, in a certain sense, explained. He certainly explained what their jobs were, that Yaakov was to sit and learn, not that Esav didn't learn, but he was, predominantly, a person that liked to go outdoors. Today we would call Esav an “outdoors man,” and Yaakov is the homebody, right? They knew what their jobs were but did they know about their root soul? Did they know what their job was in terms of the sephiros and the tikkun process? It's hard to say. I'm sure that, at a certain point, they did know. Actually, it is true that, at a certain point, they did know, which I will explain next week.

Participant: Do we know what was the first thing that turned Esav to start following his yetzer ha’ra?

R’Kessin: We don't. I'm not aware what the turning point was. But we do know that 13-years-old was the turning point; we do know that. Chazal say that’s when he did become evil, when he was 13, but he concealed it from Yitzchak and from Avraham Avinu and, at 15, he didn't conceal it anymore. He became blatantly evil. That we do know. It says, “He went out to do evil.”

Participant: Don't they say that, when a boy is bar mitzvah at 13, the yetzer ha’tov comes into them? So, it doesn't make sense that, if he finally got the yetzer ha’tov, he’d be turning (good).

R’Kessin: Look, he had free will. Whatever reason he had to do that, that's what he did. Why? We don't know but, like I say, he did become evil at that point.

Participant: Do the imahot—matriarchs have anything to do with the sephirot also?

R’Kessin: Yes, they do because they are really, in many ways, composites with the avos. Sara would have also been part of the sephiros of Avraham. Rivka would have been with Yitzchak, and so on. That is true except they are represented by different aspects of the sephira, but they would have been part of the original configuration of sephiros.

Participant: Were they necessary, meaning are they as much a factor as the avot?

R’Kessin: Yes. In fact, I will explain next week, how. Esav became a rasha so somebody had to take over his job but who is his consort? Who would have been his wife?—Leah. That's why Leah was crying and her eyes are described as “dimmed.” As we will see next week, Yaakov took over the job of Esav so that is why he had to marry who would have been his wife, Leah. That's why Yaakov had two wives and everybody else has one. That's a very important idea. Since Yaakov had to take over the job of Esav, Leah married Yaakov. Leah was to have been the consort of Esav, his “match.”

Participant: Why was Yaakov in such a hesitation, didn't want to marry Leah? Didn't he know, at that point, that he had to take over Esav's position?

R’Kessin: Either he didn't know it or maybe it's very difficult to take over two jobs.

Remember, Yaakov did not give up his old job. He had to accept a new job besides his old job. That's a very difficult thing to do, to bring kedusha down and then to go into the world, interact with evil and subdue it. Maybe his hesitancy to marry Leah indicates his hesitancy to take on another job.

In fact, ultimately speaking, as we will see, you cannot take over two jobs for any significant length of time. Yaakov had to give up the job of Esav who he replaced and it had to be given to somebody else.

Participant: Was it given to Yosef?

R’Kessin: Right. Yosef took over the “half of the job” of Esav. That's who Yosef really was. Yosef was really a half-a-patriarch, not a full. That's why Yosef was greater than all the other shvatim—tribes because, in order for him to do that, he had to have the neshama of a chatzi av—half a patriarch, half an av. Since he took over that task, he had to go to Egypt, a place of enormous evil. All of this is explained, and you begin to understand what determines a person's mission is the root neshama, where he comes from, the origin. I'll explain all of this.

It's interesting to derive the covert level of the story because that's the real story which answers all the questions. It emerges from the real framework—not just a patch job—but a real framework.

Participant: Your connection to a sephira, does it go according to when you're born?

R’Kessin: Yes, is does. That's is one feature of the root of your neshama. You could be given additions to your neshama; those are called “ibur.” There's always the basic root of where you come from in the sephiros.

Participant: And how do you figure that out, or don't you?

R'Kessin: You don't. You have to go to a real great mekubal—kabbalist who can do this, figure out your root neshama. Even if you don't know, you can tell, in many ways, and I'll explain that. Do you have to do the job of Esav? Can you do the job of Yaakov? Everybody's divided. Some people are on the journey of Esav having to work in a world that's filled with temptations. They're clearly on that path. There are people who become rosh yeshivas so they don't have to contend with the type of evil in terms of the environment. They just have to give a shiur. They're clearly connected to a different root. Everybody is alloted his place along that continuum depending what they’re connected to.

Participant: So basically, also, you could tell by where you're born, what kind of society that you're born into, the community that you're born into?

R’Kessin: Yes, and you also can tell by your personality.

Participant: If you're born in a non-religious home, then you're probably in the camp of Esav?

R’Kessin: That could be, yes, or it also could be that you're not; you're really in the parasha of Yaakov except you have to struggle to do it. It can be given to some people with ease and some people have to really struggle with it. It all depends on previous incarnations. Look, it's complicated to find out where your root neshama really is.

Participant: How does Yosef become Mashiach ben Yosef if Mashiach ben Yosef is really coming from the yesod—foundation or is it malkhut—kingship?

R’Kessin: Mashiach ben Yosef is aligned with Esav. You have to remember: tiferes is the middle, but that means the ones below it—netzah, hod, yesod—are connected to tiferes because tiferes is higher than they.

Ultimately, they all have roots in tiferes so the Mashiach ben Yosef does have a root in tiferes except his full expression is in yesod. It's more than just one sephira; you're also connected to the roots, the upper sephiros, which are much more general, more fundamental. Okay. It's a very interesting way to learn the Chumash.


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