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Ya\u2019akov and Eisav grew up, Eisav became an \u201cish yodeya tzayid\u201d \u2013 a man who knew trapping, while Ya'akov became an \u201cish tam, yoshev ohalim\u201d \u2013 a complete man who abided in tents. \u201cAnd Yitzchak loved Eisav, because trapping was in his mouth, and Rivkah loved Ya'akov\u201d (Bereishis 25:27-28). The difference between Yitzchak and Rivkah in their respective love for their children appears, at first blush, to be disturbing, and needs to be understood.
Rabbi Avraham ben HaRambam explains that Yitzchak loved Eisav because he provided him with food, as the Targum explains. R. Avraham adds that some midrashim explain \u201cki tzayid
mouth\u201d) to mean that Eisav trapped Yitzchak with his mouth by saying things that deceived Yitzchak and led him to believe he was careful about keeping mitzvos. This midrash clarifies
the flow of the passuk: Yitzchak was able to retain his natural love for Eisav (despite his general deviation from God's path) because Eisav had been representing himself as being obser- vant of the mitzvos. Even according to the midrash, however, Yitzchak's love came as a natural result of the physical benefit that he derived from him. Rivkah, however, loved Ya'akov beyond the natural love of a parent, because he spent more time at home, being a dweller of tents, and she there- fore simply saw him more than she saw Eisav.
Rashi first cites the explanation of the Targum, just as R. Avraham does. He then cites the midrash, but he seems to understand it differently. Whereas R. Avraham finds a way to reconcile the midrash with the simple meaning of the verse, Rashi seems to understand it as being in contradiction to its simple meaning. Eisav, says the midrash,
asked his father how one tithes straw and salt. In point of fact, only things which grow from the ground need to be tithed, and, so, Yitzchak was impressed by Eisav's scrupulousness in trying to fulfill the mitzvos. Rashi's apparent understanding of the midrash, explaining it to mean that Eisav deliberately fooled Yitzchak, is very difficult because it is in conflict with his approach to other midrashim about Eisav, as reflected in his com- mentary later in the parsha.
When Eisav discovered that Ya'akov deprived him of their father's bless- ings, he said in his heart: "The days of mourning for my father will draw near, then I will kill my brother Ya'akov" (Bereishis 27:41). Rashi there writes that this is to be understood 'as it sounds,' meaning, in its literal sense, that Eisav did not want to cause his father pain.Therefore, he would wait to kill Ya\u2019akov until after his father's
with the story in which Ya\u2019akov buys the firstborn privileges from his older brother Eisav. In this passage, Eisav declares: \u201cHere I am about to die \u2013 what good is the birthright to me?\u201d (Genesis 25:32). The Chafetz Chaim explains this declaration to mean that Eisav
knew that just like all other men, some day he too would die. Eisav, however, saw his day of death as a reason to enjoy this world as much as possible while he had the chance. In this manner, Eisav justified his hedonism and lazi- ness. The burden of the birthright did not fit into Eisav\u2019s reason for living.
The Chafetz Chaim notes that the manner in which a person approaches his day of death is indicative of what kind of person this individ- ual is. In Jewish literature, the day of death is viewed as a source of motivation to inspire people to life full lives. May we all strive to attain such levels of spiritual growth.
taxes were collected for the purpose of enriching the king. Based
Parshas HaMelech in Sefer Shmuel, the Rabbis formulated the princi- ple of dina demalchusa dina, literally, the \u201claw of the land is the law\u201d: everyone must pay taxes. In Shulchan Aruch, the Rishonim are quoted as having pointed out that if the taxes are unfair, or discriminatory (which is also unfair,) this would not constitute \u201cdina\u201d demalchusa \u2013 \u201cthe law of the land,\u201d but rather \u201cgazlanusa\u201d demalchusa \u2013 \u201cthe embezzlement of the land,\u201d and such tax laws are not binding. A system of grad- uated income tax is considered fair and reasonable.
There was a theory among some of the Baalei HaTosfos that the idea behind paying
during a famine, Hashem instructs him to stay there and promises to fulfill the covenant that He made with Avraham. This promise is appropriate, says
"because Avraham obeyed My voice, and he kept My decrees, My com- mandments, My regulations, and My instructions." (Hebrew: "vayishmor mishmarti mitzvosai chukosai vesorosai" - Bereshis 26:5).
Rashi, following a Midrashic precedent, adopts (in this con- text) what Rabbi Hayyim Angel has called the "open canon" approach. This means that an unidentified person, place, or object need not refer to an
Thus, Rashi defines "mishmar- ti" as rabbinical ordinances, such as forbidden secondary relationships and shvus prohibi-
tions on Shabbos, which pre- vent people from violating the Torah commandments them- selves. "Mitzvosai" are logical commandments, such as the prohibitions against murder and theft, that would be ethically imperative even if the Torah
them. "Chukosai" are the seemingly illogical commandments, such as the restrictions against eating pig-meat or wearing sha'atnez. "Torosai" include the tradition
of the Oral Torah and halacha le-Moshe mi-Sinai \u2013 laws that were given to Moshe on Har Sinai of which there is no refer- ence to in the Torah.
Ramban, like most medieval commentators, adopts the "closed canon" approach. This
means that the "mitzvos" that the Torah says Avraham kept must be limited to the instruc- tions that appeared earlier in the Torah.
Thus, at the end of his com- ment, Ramban identifies "mish- marti" as Avraham's belief in one God. "Mitzvosai" are once- only personal instructions, such as "lech lecha" (leaving his homeland), Akeidas Yitzchak, and banishing Hagar and Yishma'el. "Chukosai" repre- sent the mission to follow and to teach Hashem's noble attrib- utes of mercy, justice, and the like. "Torosai" include all per- manent family-wide command- ments, which are circumcision and the seven mitzvos bnei Noach \u2013 commandments given to non-Jews.
Ramban writes [that] the
family of Avraham did not
keep all 613 mitzvos before
taxes is the principle of rent. The land of each country belongs to the ruler (or the government) of that particular country, and the owner of any real estate is entitled to charge rent from all those who want to live on their property. The one exception to this rule (according to this view) is Eretz Yisroel, which the Torah declares belongs to Hashem. Since Hashem is the true proper- ty owner, and he has encouraged all of Bnei Yisroel to live in Eretz Yisroel, no government in control there ever has the right to charge taxes (rent,) because they are not the right- ful landlord. The Landlord (with a capital \u201cL\u201d) has granted permission for all of Bnei Yisroel to live in His country (what is called the \u201cpaltin shel melech\u201d \u2013 \u201cthe palace of the king.) This view is quoted by the Ran in his commentary to Nedarim. There are many religious people who are not that knowl- edgeable of any other comments made by the Ran in his commentary on Nedarim, either before or after this and are only famil- iar with this one position of the Ran. The truth of the matter is that not only has this view not been accepted in Shulchan Aruch, it didn\u2019t even gain honorable men-
tion. The Shulchan Aruch quotes verbatim from the Rambam that one is obligated to pay taxes both in Eretz Yisroel as well as in other countries.
It is important to note that today the basis for taxation is totally different from what it was in Talmudic times. Today, all modern countries provide a variety of services: They provide streets and highways, and main- tain forests and museums. They provide fire, police, and military protection. They collect garbage and deliver mail. They do medical research to discover cures for dis- eases, etc. The taxes are collected for the purpose of covering the annual budget, which pays for all of these projects. The halacha views all of the people living in the same neighborhood as \u201cshutfim\u201d \u2013 \u201cpart- ners,\u201d sharing a common need for a shul, yeshiva, mikveh and an eruv, and there- fore, the \u201cpartners\u201d can force each other to put up the needed amount to further their partnership. So too, all people who live in the same city, state, and country are consid- ered \u201cshutfim\u201d with respect to the services provided by that city, state, and country. The purpose behind the taxes is no longer
\u201cto enrich the king\u201d in the slightest. In addi- tion to all the other expenses, the govern- ment officials have to be paid as well, but it is because they serve as the employees of all the citizens for the purpose of looking after all these services, and seeing to it that they are properly taken care of. In our modern world, one who does not pay his proper share of taxes is no longer viewed as cheating the king (or the ruler) of the country, but rather as cheating (i.e. stealing from) his partners. The amount of money not paid by the one who cheats will have to be taken care of by having the rest of the \u201cpartners\u201d put up more money from their pockets to cover all the expenses of the partnership. And even if much of the tax money goes towards expenditures that are not to one\u2019s personal liking and that one gets nothing out of, such is the halacha of any partnership: the majority of the part- ners have the right to determine what are the reasonable needs of the partnership. Therefore, this majority has the legitimate right to force the minority to contribute their share towards properly furthering the partnership.
Nechama Leibovitz, in a seminal essay on Rashi's approach to citing midrashim, points out that there are often many midrashim to any particular verse, but Rashi very seldom tells us this. When he does, he means to reject those midrashim as not being in conformity to the simple meaning of the verse. In this particular instance, the other midrashim view Eisav as representing an additional stage in the development of evil in the world. Why did Eisav wish to wait until after his father\u2019s death to kill Ya\u2019akov? Eisav thought that when Kayin killed his brother Hevel, he made a mistake in not waiting until their father had passed away and could not fur- ther divide his estate. Therefore, Eisav decided to wait until after Yitzchak died, and then kill Ya\u2019akov, so he would not lose his inheritance.
Rashi disagrees in that this view of Eisav represents him solely in a negative light, as a symbol of evil. Rashi maintains that Eisav, in fact, had a variegated
personality, as he really did care for and honor his father. Therefore, Rashi felt that the midrash, while important for the message it conveyed, did not reflect the simple meaning of the Torah, which pres- ents people as human beings, with all of their com- plexities.
In light of Nechama Leibovitz's insight, it seems very difficult to understand why Rashi in the begin- ning of the parsha would cite a midrash that seems to contradict the simple meaning of the verse, and, moreover, calls into question the love Eisav had for his father.
Rabbi Yerucham Levovitz answers that, in reality, Eisav was sincere in his questions. Indeed, both Rabbi Yosef Rosen (the Rogatchover Gaon) and Rabbi Chaim Kanyevski point out that Eisav\u2019s ques- tions were valid: there are situations in which one must, in fact, tithe straw or salt. One could add that Eisav specifically asked his father detailed questions about tithing because this was a mitzvah that Yitzchak took special care to keep, as pointed out by
the Rambam in his Laws of Kings. Eisav, then, was not consciously trying to fool his father. However, one cannot ignore the fact that his scrupulousness in performing the mitzvos of honoring his father and tithing his crop were exceptions in his general demeanor.
Rabbi Levovitz says that this is the meaning of the words \u201cki tzayid befiv\u201d \u2013 Eisav's mouth and his heart were not consistent. When speaking to his father and tending to his needs, he did and said all the right things. However, in his heart, he did not have an overall dedication to God. Ya'akov, on the other hand, is described as an \u201cish tam,\u201d a complete man, in that everything he did was fitting and con- sistent with his overall demeanor. Ya'akov, unlike his brother Eisav, did not adopt stringencies in one area of divine service and completely neglect other areas; rather, he was a complete and integrated person, and thereby merited to be the one to carry on the tradi- tion to future generations.
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Ramban writes before this that even according to Rashi, the family of Avraham did not keep all 613 mitzvos before Matan Torah. For example, Ya'akov married Rachel and Leah, who were sisters of each other, even though in Vayikra 18:18 this is prohibited. Rather, Avraham learned the entire Torah through ruach hakodesh \u2013 divine inspiration - and chose to keep its commandments only within the land of Israel. Ya'akov was thus allowed to marry two sisters outside of Israel.
As mentioned before, Rashi clearly states that Avraham and his family began to keep the entire Torah before it was commanded. Rambam, however, essentially agrees with Ramban, and says that Avraham's partial Torah observance was a step in the organic process that led to matan Torah at Sinai. Rambam writes (hilchos Melachim 9:1):
six things\u2026[Hashem] added for Noach [the prohibition against eating] limbs of a living animal\u2026So it was throughout the world
until Avraham. Avraham was commanded, besides the foregoing, to do circumcision, and he prayed in the morning. Yitzchak sep- arated a tithe and added a prayer in the after- noon. Ya'akov added [the prohibition against eating] the sciatic nerve and prayed in the evening. In Egypt, Amram was given additional commandments, until Moshe Rabbeinu arrived and the Torah was com- pleted by him."
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