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The Majesty and Tragedy of Eisav

The Struggle Against Evil is Not Evil

1 hr 28 min

Class Summary:

Rashi says that trying to impress and deceive his father Isaac, Esau would ask his father: “How does one tithe the salt and the straw?” Yet this seems strange. For this question implies not extra piety, but absolute ignorance! For it is a clear law that these items are exempt of all tithing obligations.

The class goes on to explore this Rashi on two levels—the literal and the mystical. In the first we discover the intelligence and depth of Eisav’s question, considering the unique properties of salt and straw. Then we go on to explain this question from a deeper perspective, analyzing the majesty and tragedy of Eisav, whose struggles were unique and who attracted the deep love and empathy of his father. The prophet says that G-d loathes Eisav. But the Kabbalists show us how easy it is to miss the real message of the verse.

The class aims at liberating us from the erroneous notion that struggling with evil is evil. It is the other way around: Our struggle with evil is where our unique spiritual potential and greatness lay. 

Please leave your comment below!

  • AB

    Aaron Blackman -4 years ago

    President Trump is a model of Esau, who recognizes his role to serve Yaakov. I find it fascinating that he is a builder, one who knows the secret of trurning straw into something permanent. No one the rest of Esau hates him so, the body is waging war

    President Trump is a model of Esau, who knows that his role is to serve his younger brother Yaakov. It is fascinating using the Rabbis teaching that he knows the secret of turning straw into buildings.

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  • RMP

    Roger M Pearlman -7 years ago

    I like using the straw to represent Eisav as straw man arguments is what those who are ignorant of/deny
    Moshe Emes resort to :)

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  • P

    PRS -8 years ago

    Is this something we can apply to our current global struggle with evil as well as on a more personal level?

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  • P

    pninaleah -8 years ago

    yesterday I was listening to this very intense parshas toldos shiur,
    regarding Eisav and his maaser question on straw and salt. Two
    of my boys are extremely hyperkinetic/ADHD, and a behavioral
    therapist recommended that I take them out before and after
    school for one hour of intense physical activity. When I went
    to take them after school yesterday, one of their friends
    joined us. So we got in the car, the shiur picked up, and you
    started talking about out-of-the-box kids: how - like Eisav -
    this is their created nature. How they don't fit in the
    system, and sometimes get kicked out. How awesome and creative
    they are. The deep challenges they face, with G-d giving them
    many loving opportunities to do teshuva. You were LITERALLY
    talking to all 3 boys in the car. We all sat silently
    listening, and I could tell the boys were deeply affected. It
    was such beautiful hashgocho protis, and I am thankful to both
    G-d and you for making that moment happen.

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  • S

    Shmuly -8 years ago

    Nice shiur! ...small correction, the word "pach" is spelled with "ches" which means "trap".

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Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • November 8, 2015
  • |
  • 26 Cheshvan 5776
  • |

Leilu Nishmas Reb Eliyahu Tzion ben Reb Chananya Niasoff ז״ל
And in the merit of our partner in Torah, Yigal Yisroel ben Sofia, שיחי׳

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