Parshat Toldot By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס”ד
לשכנו תדרשו Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
Newton’s Third Law of Motion
Newton’s Third Law of Motion states: When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body. There is a spiritual “law”, very similar to this physical law, that states that for every positive action/mitzvah there is the opposition of the Side of Evil to prevent one from performing such an action. Also, just as in the physical law, the greater the magnitude of the mitzvah the greater “effort” the Side of Evil “exerts” to prevent the fulfillment of the mitzvah. It should be noted that this opposition is also meant to give one more reward when one overcomes this opposition.
Nevertheless, even though there is similarity between the spiritual and physical in this respect, the spiritual realms are definitely not confined to these “rules.” For example, there is always the Divine Aid that can help one overcome the Side of Evil, and so Hashem wants, especially when one asks for aid in prayer and hope for Hashem’s salvation. There is Torah study which is also a major weapon against the Side of Evil, and there are also many other exceptions to this “rule” as well.
According to the Kabbalists, it is especially in the relatively “lower spiritual levels” that this “rule” is more relevant. This may be better understood by saying that these “lower spiritual levels” are closer to the physical world than the “higher spiritual levels”, and thus they act more similarly to the physical laws we mentioned. One example of this is the recitation of the Amida prayer in a whisper. The Arizal explains that in the Amida prayer one reaches a high spiritual level that the Side of Evil tries to “tap into”. Therefore, the Amida prayer said by an individual must be said in a whisper in order to make this prayer more “secret.” This is not meant to be understood literally, for also “secrets” are not “exempt” from the power of the Side of Evil. Rather, Hashem mandated that, relatively speaking, matters that are more “revealed” are more prone to danger from the Side of Evil, while matters that are hidden/secretive are relatively more secure. However, the Amida said by an individual is on a “lower spiritual level” than the Amida said by the hazan in the “Repitition of the Amida” in a congregation. Therefore, the Arizal explains, the “Repitition of the Amida” is to be said out loud, for at this lofty level there is no more “fear” of the Side of Evil to “tap into” this prayer.
These teachings can be seen in this parsha, when Yakov sneakingly takes the blessings meant for his brother Esav. Esav remarks that Yakov’s name indicates this sneaky outsmarting in the term “ya’akveni” (similar to “Yakov”) – to “outsmart.” This parsha teaches us that sometimes positive actions must be done secretively in order to avoid the combat of the Side of Evil, associated by our Sages with the power of Esav. Neverthless, we will see in two weeks from now, in parshat Vayishlach, that when the spiritual side is more highly developed a face-to-face, i.e “revealed,” combat may be engaged and won by the Side of Good, as when Yisrael (Yakov’s other name) combatted the angel of Esav face to face. However, it should be remembered that this may only done on a higher spiritual state, as is indicated by the name Yisrael, considered a “higher” state than “yakov” according to the Kabbalists.
Hebron reminds us of these two states, both the revealed and the hidden, for in Hebron is the Machpela Cave which hides our Godly ancestors in its midst. With the same token Hebron also represents the Cradle of the Davidic Monarchy which strives to express God’s Majesty upon the world in the most pronounced and revealed way. Today, we clearly see “Newton’s Third Law of Motion” in Hebron in action: how the great antagonism of anti-semites to Jewish presence in Hebron only indicates how great and important the spiritual energy inherent in Jewish presence in Hebron really is. Also, in the present day we have seen episodes such as the return to Beit Hadassah by women and children secretly (initially) which represent the secretive inspiration of Hebron, along with the brave spirit of the settlers here in a very revealed and pronounced way, proclaiming Israel’s deep connection to this city and the entirety of the Holy Land, before the entire world.
Real Stories from the Holy Land
It was a couple of days before Pesach and Rabbi Chaim Zaid was on his way back home to Bnei Brak from Elad. Sitting on the bus, Reb Chaim watched a man board. He put his hand in his pocket and withdrew it empty. He must have left his wallet at home. “I travel this route every day at this hour. Please let me get on without paying today. Tomorrow I will pay double.” The driver refused. “Either you pay or you get off the bus!” Hearing the argument, Reb Chaim jumped out of his seat and ran to the front of the bus. He withdrew some cash from his pocket, gave it to the driver on behalf of the anonymous fellow, and then returned to his seat. After this fellow pressured him for his name, the rabbi admitted, saying “My name is Chaim Zaid.”
Reb Chaim was heavily involved in a Kimcha d’Pischa, the incident with the bus fare completely forgotten. When his route for Kimcha d’Pischa was done, when Reb Chaim removed his jacket, he realized that his wallet was missing! He checked the pocket of his coat, where he had last placed it, but it was empty. He rummaged through all his pockets, but the wallet was gone!
About three hours later, Reb Chaim received a curious phone call. “I’m calling from the shop at the gas station in Bnei Brak,” the caller said, “Your wallet was found and it is here. You can come get it.”.He arrived at the store, hardly catching his breath, and approached the cashier. The cashier looked familiar. Reb Chaim looked again and it dawned on him that he was none other than the anonymous man for whom Reb Chaim had paid the bus fare just two days earlier! “It was just about night when a man drove up to the gas station to fill up his tank. He approached the little window of the shop to pay. He passed a credit card inside and called out, ‘Three hundred shekels.’ Then he turned to his car and I could not see his face at all. I picked up the credit card and the name on it jumped out at me, ‘Chaim Zaid!’ I was so excited! Hashem sent you to me so I would have the opportunity to repay you! ‘Zaid, Zaid,’ I called out after the man’s retreating back. But he continued to walk toward his car, without turning his face at all. At that second, it dawned on me that perhaps the card was stolen. I called out on the speaker system, asking the customer to return because there was a problem with his card. ‘I need your Teudat Zehut (Israeli identification number, similar to a Social Security number in the United States),’ I said. The man entered the shop, placed his wallet on the counter, and pulled out the Teudat Zehut card from inside. He began to read the numbers off the card. This raised another red flag as most Israelis know their numbers by heart, given how often it is needed. ‘Is this your Teudat Zehut?’ I asked him in the sternest voice I could put on. Meanwhile, I turned the security camera to shine on his face. The man panicked, realizing that his theft had been discovered. He turned around and ran out of the shop, jumped into his car and sped away from the gas station, leaving the stolen wallet on the counter. Here! The wallet is yours!” The cashier finished his story and handed the wallet to Reb Chaim. He was astonished to find every last bill, check, and document inside!