Parshas Toldos:
Underlying Motivations

by Yisroel Leichtman

It's important to note the way in which the Torah illustrates the essential difference between Yaakov and Esau. The description does not detail Yaakov's great deed nor mention his diligence and vast knowledge. The Torah only describes him as one who "sits in a tent". The Targum of Yonasan Ben Uziel explains this to mean that he had a powerful desire to learn Torah, that his strength was his desire to seek Ha-Shem.

This strength was the cause that ultimately brought Yaakov to all of his greatness. For when a person's motivation is strong his future is assured. Therefore this desire to be a seeker contained within it all of Yaakov's greatness.

Similarly, the Torah's description of Esau does not detail all of his misguided actions. Instead, he is described as a "man who knew hunting, a man of the field". Rashi explains this to mean he was a man of leisure. Again, the Torah finds that all of Esau's evil deeds were outcomes of his tendency to waste time. Even before he did anything wrong, his future had already been determined by this one powerful and essential quality.

A person must therefore think deeply to evaluate how great is the importance of an underlying motivation. Much care must be taken to guard oneself from tendencies that bring to sin. Even if they are completely permissible, within them all seriousness is already contained. All of Gehinnom is already complete within them.

All the more so when dealing with a positive tendency one should certainly reflect, take to heart and place importance on those motivations that are leading him to good. They should be dearer to him than anything else because within them all perfection is contained.


Reb Yeruchem Levovitz in Daas Torah Parshas Toldos as understood by Yisroel Leichtman, one of the members of the Kollel Mechanchim division of the Chicago Community Kollel.



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