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A Timely Torah Message By Shaya Gross

 Parshas Vayishlach 5782


[Editor’s note: As a memory of my beloved brother Shaya, I would like to continue sending out his pearls of wisdom that he has shared with all of you in the past. For some of you this may ring a bell and for others it may appear to be totally new. May the learning of Shaya’s Divrei Torah inspire us to change our ways and thereby give an Aliya to the neshama of our dear beloved Shaya whom we miss so much. A special thank you to Aaron Friedman for always looking over the divrei torah.] 

When Eisav hugged and kissed Yaakov after not having seen Yaakov in many years, what were Eisav’s true feelings toward Yaakov? Rav Shimon Bar Yochai holds that Eisav hugged and kissed Yaakov out of love. How did that occur if Eisav was coming with the intent to kill Yaakov?

The Panim Yafos gives a marvelous explanation. The Pasuk in Mishlei says ‘ki’mayim hapanim lipanim kein leiv ha’adam li’adam,’ just as your reflection in water mirrors what you do-if you smile, it smiles back; if you frown, it frowns back- so too with people’s hearts: when you love or hate someone in your heart, the feeling will be reciprocated. So when Yaakov saw Eisav coming, he built up inside of himself a love for Eisav [perhaps by thinking things like ‘he’s my one and only brother and he has some kedusha in him’] and therefore Eisav loved him back and ran forward with love to Yaakov!

However, this approach is not always successful. In next week’s Parsha (Parshas Vayeishev), Yosef went looking for his brothers. He met an angel who told him that they went ‘dasoiyna.’ Rashi explains that they were sharpening their weapons to kill Yosef. What did Yosef do? Instead of fleeing in the opposite direction, he continued his journey toward the brothers! What was Yosef thinking? He knew they wanted to kill him! It was ten against one! What was his rationale?

The Panim Yafos explains that Yosef, the ben zekunim [protege] of Yaakov, was planning on doing the same ‘trick’ as his father had done with Eisav. As soon as he would see them, he would build up love in his heart for his brothers, so that they would love him back.

Why didn’t Yosef’s plan work in the same way that it had worked for Yaakov?

The Pasuk tells us ‘they saw him first and before he could come close to them, they despised him and wanted to kill him,’ hence, the ‘kimayim hapanim lipanim’ backfired and worked the other way. He now in some sense despised them back and was unable to love them! However, in regards to Yaakov, the Pasuk emphasizes that Yaakov saw Eisav first and therefore built up love in his heart for Eisav before Eisav would see him and build up hate in his heart for Yaakov!

This is a lesson for all of us, that if we are ever in a dispute with someone, the more we try to accept them and truly forgive them when we see them and think about them, the less hard feelings there will be, and true friendship can be [re]ignited without any need for discussion.

[Editor’s note: This past week, was the Yahrtzeit of Mrs. Esther Tendler z”l, the wife of my High School Principal Rabbi Yosef Tendler ZT”L. Mrs. Tendler was someone who personified this dvar torah to a tee. When people would meet her, they would immediately be struck by her warmth and caring, no matter what type of background they came from. Whether they came from the most religious or irreligious home, she treated everyone as if they were one of her own. It made no difference because to Mrs. Tendler, there was nothing other than a beautiful Neshama in front of her that was waiting to be nurtured and loved.

May we all take a lesson from this Dvar Torah and from Mrs. Tendler, to be accepting of people who may not be in our circles and to not look down at people; rather, we should see the beautiful Neshama that is inside each and every person, including our very own. Have a wonderful Shabbos!]

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