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No child is born evil, and Esav, too, was not born evil

Friday, 5 November, 2021 - 4:37 am

 In this age of WhatsApp various proverbs are passed around within the groups. It is always fascinating to me to watch the power of mass media: according to the number of times that you get these words of wisdom from different sources, you can understand the extent to which they touched, amused or merely interested the public.

One of the more special ones, which appeared repeatedly last week, says: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” It’s obvious why this is going from group to group, for who of us is not fighting a battle that only he knows about? Who doesn’t have a challenge that is his alone?

I thought about this in the context of the story of Yaakov and Esav, who are born in this week’s Parasha. I don’t know about Yaakov, but Esav certainly would have agreed with this sentence, and would done a “cut and paste” with it.

Both of them were born in a special, elevated household. The two of them were together already in Rivkah’s womb, and even started to fight there: “The children agitated within her.”

Chazal tell us that each one of them pulled in a different direction. Yaakov’s nature was to be “a wholesome man, living in tents”; he felt pulled to any place where there was good, holiness and spirituality. In contrast to that, Esav was a person who “knows hunting”; he felt pulled towards anything material, earthly – and to evil as well.

No child is born evil, and Esav, too, was not born evil. He just came into the world with a challenge very different from that of Yaakov. The role of Esav in the world was not to do evil acts – not at all. No – Esav came into the world with the special goal of dealing with this material world, sifting through it, correcting it, bringing it to a state of holiness. He also received special tools: “A man who knows hunting”. That is a man who has the ability to hunt down materiality, pick out the good from the bad, as one picks out the wheat kernels form the chaff covering it. This is a sublime role, but not at all easy, apparently.

Yitzchak Avinu knew the sentence spinning through WhatsApp. He knew that Esav was fighting a war that no one else knew about it, and he was kind to him. “Yitzchak loved Esav because game was in his mouth”. Yitzchak recognize Esav’s potential. He knew that he had the power to hunt, and he understood that that is his challenge, so he loved him, accepted him and tried to be there for him so that he would succeed in his task in this world.

Friends, we should learn from Yitzchak.

A moment before we judge people, badmouth them or condemn them, it would be good to remember to “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” 

 

Shabbat Shalom,

 

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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