Toldos/Remembering Har Nof - The Tents of Torah
Parshas Toldos/Remembering Har Nof - The Tents of Torah
In this week’s parsha, Parshas Toldos, after years of childlessness, Yitzchak and Rivka have twin boys, righteous Yaakov, who becomes our third patriarch, and wicked Eisav. As the boys grow up, their divergent personalities become apparent: וַיִּגְדְּלוּ, הַנְּעָרִים, וַיְהִי עֵשָׂו אִישׁ יֹדֵעַ צַיִד, אִישׁ שָׂדֶה; וְיַעֲקֹב אִישׁ תָּם, יֹשֵׁב אֹהָלִים - and the lads grew up, and Eisav was a man who knew trapping, a man of the field, and Yaakov was a simple man, a dweller in tents (Bereishis 25:27).
What does the pasuk mean to tell us, that Yaakov was a tent-dweller? Rashi (ibid) comments: ישב אהלים. אָהֳלוֹ שֶׁל שֵׁם וְאָהֳלוֹ שֶׁל עֵבֶר - he sat in the tents of Torah of Shem and the tents of Torah of Ever.
While Eisav spent his days idly roaming the fields, trapping and tricking his father with his mouth, and frequenting houses of idol worship (see Rashi, ibid), Yaakov, the quiet, simple, pure man, spent his days immersed in a life of spirituality and avodas Hashem, in the holy tents of Torah.
R’ Shalom Rosner writes, “The Torah described Eisav as a hunter, a man of the fields, and Yaakov as a simple man, a tent-dweller. R’ Pincus zt’l wonders about the terminology of the pasuk. Chazal tell us what a terrible person Eisav was and about his many sins, and yet, the Torah chooses to capture his essence by calling him “a man of the field”?! Yaakov, a righteous man, is labeled by the Torah as a “tent-dweller”.
“Does ‘a man of the field’ capture all of Eisav’s flaws, and does ‘dweller of tents’ really define Yaakov’s greatness?
“R’ Pincus suggests that the true litmus test of a person’s greatness is what he does during his free time. When it comes to what we must do, there’s no choice, so we do it. So where do our true colors show? When we choose our extracurricular activities, how we fill our time.
“Before I made aliyah with my family, I had to go to the Israeli consulate in N.Y. I blocked a couple of hours out of my schedule for it, because it usually takes a lot of time. When I got there, though, it was almost empty. It was unbelievable! As I filled out the paperwork, I overheard a guy who was sitting across from me. He was on the phone talking to his friends, saying, ‘You’re not going to believe it! I blocked out the entire morning to come to the Israeli consulate. I thought I would be here all morning! And you know what, I’m finished here, and I don’t have to go back to work for three hours! Isn’t that unbelievable!? I have this whole morning free!’ Then he called another person. Then another. He spent two hours, the entire time I was there, calling people to tell them how much free time he had because he had blocked out the whole morning for the consulate trip and had finished earlier than expected.
“‘Killing time’ is not a Jewish perspective. What did Eisav do in his spare time? NOTHING. He hung out in the field, and that led him to sin, as doing nothing often does. Yaakov used his time to sit and learn. That’s what we have to do: use our time and not waste it. The most valuable gift Hashem gives us is time, and as we get older, we realize how valuable every second of life is. Hopefully, each year of life gives us a greater perspective and recognition of the value of using our time well” (Shalom Rav, p.118-119).
This past Shabbos, 25 Cheshvan 5780, was the 5th anniversary of the Har Nof massacre. Bnei Torah enrobed in their talleisim and tefillin, standing in devotion and prayer before HKB”H, were taken in the most brutal and horrific fashion, by bnei Amalek y’s.
Of R’ Kalman Ze’ev Levine HY”D, R’ Daniel Y. Travis was maspid and related that, “R’ Levine was a complete and devoted eved Hashem. He cared deeply for his children and would make sure that they always got enough sleep. Yet his family related that he was always still up learning at 2 a.m., and that he would wake up every morning without exception for a neitz minyan.
“R’ Levine was a zariz. Wherever he went it was with alacrity and enthusiasm, and with total devotion to serving Hashem. He went from mitzvah to mitzvah like an arrow being shot from a bow heading straight for the target. He lived and breathed the Borei Olam. R’ Levine headed a weekly Mesilas Yesharim chaburah in the kollel. He lived the ideals of that sefer, and mussar was the essence of his life. Everything he did was one straight path of righteousness” (Living On, Feldheim, p,72).
Of his rebbe, R’ Mosheh Twersky zt’l, R’ Eliezer Menachem Niehaus, was maspid, “Once rebbe came in to shiur on erev Shavuos with a glow on his face. ‘Last night,’ he said, ‘we counted the 49th day of sefiras ha’omer. We should have been so full of joy after finishing a mitzvah that took forty-nine days to complete that we should have started to dance!’ That small exclamation made such an impact on me that today, almost twenty years later, before I count the last night of sefirah, I recall what he said, and it makes such a difference in the way I count!
“As a rebbe, he had the ability to instill in his talmidim little ideas that would continue to grow and grow… We recognized that every word he said came from his remarkable middas ha’emes and his burning desire for perfection in everything he did - his Torah learning, meticulousness in mitzvos and avodas ha’tefillah… It is possible to say that Hashem took him in such a horrifying way not only to arouse everyone to do teshuva, but also to reveal his greatness to the entire world. Now everyone saw that it is possible in our times to reach levels of greatness that are reminiscent of previous generations” (ibid, p.88-89).
וְיַעֲקֹב אִישׁ תָּם, יֹשֵׁב אֹהָלִים - And Yaakov was a pure man, who dwelled in the tents of Torah, and who utilized every moment of his time to its fullest.
L’zecher nishmasam - R’ Avrohom Shmuel Goldberg, R’ Aryeh Kupinsky, R’ Kalman Zeev Levine, R’ Mosheh Twersky, and Chaim (Howie) Rotman - HY”D, zt’l; and in memory of Zidan Se’if, may his memory be for a blessing.
בברכת בשורות טובות, חודש טוב, ושבת שלום