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Table Talk II: Toledot

He Ain’t All Bad, Is He? The prophet Obadiah addresses Edom, the descendants of Esau, and says: “If you place your nest among the stars, I will bring you down from there – the word of

God.” (Obadiah 1:4) The Midrash Tanchuma (Tzav) uses this verse to describe the scene when God will demand justice from Esau and his descendants: “Eisav will wrap himself in a Tallit as a wise elder and sit at Jacob’s feet to study Torah.” This is an interesting way to demand justice from Eisav. How will his sitting wrapped in a Tallit and studying Jacob’s Torah bring justice? – Perhaps, this parallels the Ramchal’s description of the Soul World, where we will sit enjoying all of our accomplishments, but constantly aware of how much more we could have accomplished had we redirected our strengths and worked harder at attaching to God. We are taught that even before Eisav was born that he struggled to escape the womb and enter the temple of idol worship. He was a mighty warrior and hunter. He could have used all his strengths to conquer his natural inclinations and achieved spiritual greatness. He could have emulated his father and used his strength to control himself, but he chose to not direct his desires in a constructive manner. His punishment is to sit at the feet of the “Tent Dweller” who transformed himself into the Jacob we know, who confronted evil directly, with great courage and determination. How well do we know our strengths and consider how to best direct them towards a better relationship with the Almighty?

Jacob first hesitated to pretend to be Eisav and steal the blessings. The Talmud teaches that he did not want to pretend to be someone else because to do so, is considered idol-worship. The Alei Shor defines Avodah Zarah – idol worship – as pretending to serve God. Avodah, service, Zarah, that is strange to me; I do not relate to what I am doing. Someone who goes through all the motions of a religious life but is disconnected, and does not feel that what he is doing is meaningful, or someone who studies Torah but does so as a stranger, distant from Torah’s lessons, or someone who goes through the motions of prayer without feeling, is a stranger to himself, and borders on Avodah Zarah. How connected are we to our Torah study, Mitzvot and Prayer?

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The Role of The Second Generation
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A Pool of Blessing
An Improved Blessing
Asking The Proper Question
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