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PARSHA PONDERINGS-TOLDOS

THE “RIGHT” BROTHER  THAT DIDN’T FLY

וירא עשו כי רעות בנות כנען בעיני יצחק אביו.

וילך עשו אל ישמעאל ויקח את מחלת בת ישמעאל בן אברהם אחות נביות על נשיו לו לאשה.

And Esav saw that Canaanite women were bad in the eyes of his father Yitzchak, and Esav went to Yishmael, and took Machalas, daughter of Yishmael the son of Abraham, and sister of Nivuyos, on top of his (previous) wives, unto himself for a wife.

Yaakov had “stolen” the blessings from Esav, his mother Rivka feared for his life, and so his parents sent him off until the wrath of Esav would subside. Before he left, however, Yitzchok instructed Yaakov lest he take a Canaanite wife, instead directing him to the house of Lavan to find his mate. Esav, meanwhile, got wind of Yitzchok’s instructions to his brother, and realized that Canaanite women were not exactly to his father’s taste. Woops!, he thought, my wives are both Canaanites. And so he went out and married a third wife, Machalas, a non-Canaanite woman who actually hailed from the family of Avraham.

Huh?

But didn’t Yitzchok say that Canaanite women were bad? How then, would taking an additional, albeit Non-Canaanite woman, rectify the situation?

Good question?

Well then why don’t we ask it to ourselves: If we know that certain things are bad, why do we avoid divorcing them from our lives, instead assuaging our guilt by doing other things that are good, as if that goodness can somehow drown out the badness of the bad things?

And yet, thus is the nature of our Evil Inclination, epitomized by Esav himself: Even when forced to concede that something is bad, we never allow ourselves to be convinced that that something must be taken on directly and surgically removed. At the very moment our conscience brings a wrong into focus, we suddenly find ourselves diverting his attention to some worthy right, as if that right can somehow right the wrong.

But wait! Didn’t Esav make a point of taking this non-Canaanite wife on top of his wives? Don’t the commentators explain that he made Machalas the main pillar of the household, relegating the Canaanite wives to secondary position?

Yes, indeed.

Yes, indeed.

How familiar does that sound?

Bad stuff? Wrong stuff? Oh, come on now! That’s not who I am! There are so many wonderful things I busy myself with, so many lofty pursuits which practically pack my agenda! Why mention the bad, when there is infinitely more good which consumes the lion’s share of my life?

But no, Esav also had a wonderful wife. Esav also had a wonderful mitzvah (Honor thy father and mother) on which he prided himself. And yet Esav he was, and Esav he remained.

Sure, its hard to deal with the wrong parts of our life. Sure, we aren’t expected to take it on all at once. And sure, until we have the strength to do so, we must at the very least pursue as much positivity as possible, thus lessening the influence of the negative. And yet, we must also remember not to fall into that Esavian mindset, in which no wrong cannot be righted simply by the counter-presence of another right.

Important: Two wrongs don’t equal a right.

More important: One wrong and one right do equal an Esav.

 

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