By R’ Mordechai Young
There is a famous story of a Yid who traveled and lived among the Native Americans in his younger years.
He came to one of the chiefs, a special leader who realized his guest was a Jew; the chief told him to go to his leader, the man with the white beard on top of the mountain (alluding to Moshe Rabbeinu). It was a message this Yid took to heart.
He found his way back to his roots and came to learn in Sh’or Yoshuv. The rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Freifeld, zt’l, was amazing at connecting to his students and bringing out their potential. He went to Rabbi Freifeld’s office to meet him. The Rosh Yeshiva had to leave the room briefly, so the student looked around, enamored by all the sefarim. As he walked around looking, he noticed something unusual—some of the sefarim were on the floor near Rabbi Freifeld’s desk. How could holy sefarim be left there, he wondered? He went to take a closer look and was shocked by what he saw. Those weren’t sefarim on the floor but books about Native Americans.
He realized that Rabbi Freifeld got those books in order to relate to his new student!
In Parashas Toldos, we learn about the birth of Yaakov and Esav and how they grew up. It states that Yitzchak loved Esav because “tzayid b’piv—game was in his mouth.” Rashi brings two explanations; one is that he loved Esav for hunting and bringing him from that food to eat.
Rav Dessler, zt’l, asked: Do we give to our loved ones or do we love those to whom we give? What causes the love? He says the word “ahavah,” love, has the root “hav,” which means to give. So we love those to whom we give. The love is built and increased by giving.
According to this, shouldn’t the Torah write that Esav loved Yitzchak, because he gave to him? Why does it write that Yitzchak loved Esav?
At the end of the parashah, Yitzchak wants to bless Esav and asks him to go hunt and bring him a tasty meal to eat. Rav Avigdor Miller, zt’l, asks why he didn’t just bless him; why did Esav have to go prepare a meal? Surely, Yitzchak didn’t need such lavish delicacies. Rav Miller answered that of course, he didn’t need it, but human nature is such that when one is happy, his mind is expanded and he can give the best possible blessing to another. So Yitzchak didn’t need the geshmak barbecue. He made himself appear to really like it in order to connect to Esav. It gave Esav a chance to shine and do a mitzvah. Yitzchak was giving of himself to Esav, which is why it says he loved Esav when receiving the food.
Yitzchak was emulating Hashem. Hashem doesn’t need our mitzvos and davening and, b’ezras Hashem, our korbanos when the Beis HaMikdash is rebuilt soon. But Hashem makes it seem like He needs our avodah.
Let us learn from Yitzchak and lift another up, find the good in him, and give of ourselves.
R’ Mordechai Young is a remedial rebbe and tutor. He can be reached for comments at HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org” \t “_blank” email@example.com.