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Table Talk II: Vayishlach

“For I crossed the Jordan with only my staff.” The Midrash explains that Eliphaz was sent by Eisav to murder Yaakov, but Yaakov gave him all his money and said, “A destitute person is considered dead. It’s as if you killed me.” Halacha certainly allowed Yaakov to kill Eliphaz in self-defense, and Yaakov was also noted for his super human strength. Why did he not just kill Eliphaz and keep his money? The ben Ish Chai explains that Yaakov foresaw that Onkelos the Convert would descend from Eliphaz and did not want to prevent him from appearing and teaching Torah.  Is that a practical way to deal with an enemy? Would we ever be able to kill someone knowing that he would have a righteous descendent? 

I was once visiting Galway, Ireland, when the man with whom I was negotiating, showed me that he had a separate house on his property for people who keep kosher. He did not have a key. His father had been a major in the Gestapo and his brother wanted to understand why his father was willing to do such evil things to Jews. The brother began studying Judaism and converted. The house was for when he visits Galway. The brother moved to Israel, where he teaches hundreds of students and funds numerous charities.

Would I have been able to kill his father during World War II if I had Yaakov’s vision, and could see that this son would become what and who he is?

“We don’t do that.”
Why did the brothers after describing a horrible and disgusting thing done to Dinah, add, “And such is just not done?”

Perhaps this describes actions that are permitted but simply not done. My father zt’l would often say that we know that we are living a life of Halacha when our observance trains us to know; “We don’t do that.”

What are things that you consider “not to be done?”


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