Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sisterly Sensitivity

My commentary on this week’s haftorah is based on personal hardships I had to face. These difficulties strengthen my emunah that any suffering we need to endure are only tests for the sake of perfecting our character and becoming more sensitive and loving towards others. The importance of developing this sensitivity and compassion is the main theme of the haftorah reading.

Haftorat Vayeishev
Amos 2:6-3:8
The Connection between the Haftorah and the Torah Reading
This week's haftorah opens with an allusion to the sale of Yosef by his brothers, which is the main theme of this week’s Torah reading. “So said Hashem, ‘For three transgressions of Israel, I will turn away punishment, but for the fourth I will not turn away punishment, because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes’” (Amos 2:6). According to Radak, G d was willing to withhold punishment for the three cardinal sins –  indecency, idolatry and murder, but not for injustice done to the poor. The Midrash explains this verse as referring to the sale of Yosef, the righteous. The brothers sold Yosef for 20 silver pieces (See Bereishit 37:28), with which they each bought a pair of shoes (Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer 37). Against his collective brothers, Yosef was weak. Therefore, their taking advantage by having the upper hand is unforgivable to Hashem, who warns us numerous times in the Torah against mistreating the deprived.

Stepping on the Weak in Order to Achieve Personal Goals
Perhaps the emphasis on “selling the righteous for a pair of shoes,” symbolizes how the brothers “stepped” emotionally on Yosef, completely disregarding his feelings. Moreover, the Hebrew word for shoes, “נעלים-na’alayim” also means lock. The brothers totally locked their hearts and desensitized themselves to Yosef’s pain. This is what the brothers themselves realized during their teshuva (repentance) process in this week’s parashah, “Truly, we are guilty concerning our brother, for observing the pain of his soul, when he pleaded with us, but we would not hear, therefore this distress came upon us” (Bereishit 42:21). Whereas, the brothers may have had good reason to sell Yosef, their lack of sensitivity to his feelings is unforgivable. Also today, some people, in their zeal to accomplish their important goals, do not always hold themselves back from stepping on those who are at a disadvantage, in order to climb their ladder of success. They may brush off their offense as being an insignificant mistake that inevitably happens when one has to act fast. However, is it not more important to start on the right foot and with derech eretz (ethical behavior) than to step on the feet of others, in order to start right away?

Hashem Defends the Lost Dignity of the “Weaker” Sex
In my years of running a Torah institution for women, I have experienced discrimination in the political and financial arena, where women’s power is often externally weaker. The prophet admonishes the Jewish people for taking advantage and stepping on those lower down on the social ladder, and eliciting Hashem’s punishment to an even greater degree than the three cardinal sins. Rabbi Dovid Siegel explains that the mistreatment of orphans, widows, and the poor can never be overlooked. Since they cannot rely on their financial or political power, they are compelled to place their total trust in Hashem. Therefore, Hashem immediately responds to the injustice done to them, defending their lost dignity. As women, we do not have to play political power-games in order to accomplish our goals. When we keep silent about the injustice incurred against us, in order to avoid machloket (dispute/dissension), while trusting in Hashen’s retribution, we will reap immediate eternal reward.

Sisterly Sensitivity
“They anticipate the dirt placed on the head of the impoverished” (Amos 2:7). The prophet rebukes the Jewish people, for insensitivity towards injustice. They would discriminate against the underprivileged and even drag the poor through the dirt when they refused to accept their unjustified treatment. This kind of behavior and attitude is totally inexcusable. In life, we often need to make conscious choices which may be good for one but not for another. Hurting someone else by our choice, may at times be unavoidable. However, when forced to make such a choice, where pain is caused to someone else, then we need to generate empathy and show our utmost sisterly sensitivity. Unfortunately, people – even women – do not always have the emotional maturity to take moral responsibility for the outcome of their choices. Rather than admitting that they are causing their sister pain, and being ready to face this pain with a sincere loving hug, it is easier to just smooth over hurt feelings and make believe they don’t exist, or that they stem from the other person’s personal problems. They may not realize that by accusing their sister of being wrong to feel slighted, being oversensitive, or negative, they are dragging the “poor” through the dirt, while rubbing salt into an already open wound.

The Impact of Lost Sensitivities
The emotionally mature approach is to acknowledge the hurts we inflict in others by our choices. This acknowledgment will bring us to sincerely apologize for causing this pain, realizing that in a certain place, an injustice was done. Rabbi Dovid Siegel explains that the brothers’ lack of sensitivity towards Yosef’s pain, unlike all other sins, could never be overlooked. The greatest scholars of Israel, the ten holy martyrs would suffer inhuman torture, and be brutally murdered in atonement for this offense (Midrash Mishley, Parashat 1). The fact that the torturous death of the ten martyrs remains the most tragic personal event in Jewish history, teaches us the impact of not only our actions, but also the way we carry them out. Even when harsh measures are justified, we must carry them out them with proper sensitivities. As difficult as the balance may be, we must open our hearts, feel for our Jewish sisters, and show them the proper dignity and compassion they truly deserve. The more we work on this, the more we prepare ourselves for the day when, Hashem will circumcise our hearts to love Him with all our hearts (Devarim 30:6).

Thursday, November 18, 2010


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I came to Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum complaining of severe persistent headaches for the last three weeks. She suggested that the headaches were connected with a blockage caused by communication problems with a teenage child, with whom I had indeed experienced a lot of tension. During the session, we discussed the problem at length, coming to some deep and practical solutions. Afterwards, Rebbetzin Chana Bracha used guided imagery to help build my self-image and receive the spiritual and emotional strength to implement the solutions. She also worked on healing the root of the problem through energy work, removing fears and traumas energetically. I left the healing session feeling healed both energetically and psychologically. Sure enough the headaches went away, and my relationship with my teenage child improved. (Rebbetzin Batya Kohn, Bat Ayin)

The tipul, (spiritual healing session) was incredible and made a huge impact in some place deep inside my heart, right close to my core. I dealt with issues I had since a very early age, and being the sensitive person I am, it has been in my heart for a very long time, not being quite completely healed. I think it has made it easier to deal with situations or people that make me feel insecure or not good enough. And that is a huge thing, to me. I really deeply appreciate what you have done for me. There is still a lot of room for growth and healing, but I think there has been a tremendous amount of headway so far. I hope to get another tipul in the future. May you continue successfully to do more tipulim, with me and with others who can benefit from your healing gifts! (Malka)

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The Secret Power of Shema Yisrael

In this week’s haftorah I found an allusion to what I have been practicing in spiritual healing.
Reciting the Shema with complete mindfulness has the power to overcome Esav – the source of negative energy. In spiritual healing, we recite the Shema to remove negative energy from a place, person or object. It was very reaffirming to find a source for this in our haftorah. I hope you will read on, and learn with me about accessing the power of Yosef and Rachel in order to eradicate the descendants of Esav and bring the final geulah (redemption).

Haftorat Parashat Vayislach
Ovadiah, Chapter 1:1-21
The Secret Power of Shema Yisrael to Overcome Negative Energy
This week’s haftorah is the Book of Ovadiah, which prophesizes the downfall of Edom, the descendents of Esav. This reflects the main theme of our Torah reading: Ya’acov’s struggle with Esav’s spiritual energy (angel). Just as it was his son, Yosef, that empowered Ya’acov to face Esav, and overcome him, so, too, during the future redemption, it will be the descendents of Yosef who shall triumph over the Roman Empire descending from Esav. “The house of Ya’acov shall be fire, and the house of Yosef flame, and the house of Esav for straw, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esav; for Hashem has spoken it” (Ovadiah 1:18). Tiferet Shlomo explains that the angels that Ya’acov sent to Esav, were created by Ya’acov’s recitation of the Shema prayer (Keriat Shema). This is alluded to in the verse quoted above that the house of Esav will become straw, (קש kash in Hebrew), consisting of the letters kuf and shin, the initials of the Shema prayer קריאת שמע. Today, as well, the angels that emanate from reciting the Shema with great intention have power to overcome the destructive spiritual energy of Esav. Ya’acov transferred his ability to recite the Shema with such special intensity, to his son Yosef. When he was reunited with Yosef in Egypt, Ya’acov recited the Shema, (see Rashi, Bereishit 46:29). The Maharal explains that when Ya’acov saw how Yosef had become the king, he finally understood the big picture and the reason for his suffering all these years. This realization filled his heart with great love and awe for Hashem, and enabled him to recite the Shema with the very highest kavana (intention) (Gur Aryeh, ibid). Since, the reunion of Ya’cov and Yosef completed the manifestation of Hashem’s unity in the world, therefore, at that very moment, Yosef’s power to eradicate the negativity of Esav, became anchored in the world, through the secret of the Shema Yisrael.

The Tikun of Yosef and Rachel
The ability to overcome Esav, originated at the time of Yosef’s birth. This is why Ya’acov waited until Yosef was born, before he felt secure to face Esav. The midrash explains, “Esav does not fall except through the children of Rachel…” (Bereishit Rabah 75:5). It was Esther and Mordechai, Rachel’s descendants, who defeated Haman, the descendant of Esav, during the Purim story. It was Yehoshua, the son of Efraim, and descendent of Yosef, who conquered the Land of Israel. In the future, it will be through the power of Yosef, son of Rachel that we will ultimately overcome the oppressing nations descended from Esav. When Ya’acov’s four wives and eleven sons bowed down before Esav, why did Yosef and Rachel approach last? (Bereishit 33:6-7). Tiferet Shlomo explains, that everything that happened to Ya’acov and his wives teaches us about the future. The final tikun (rectification) is that of Yosef and Rachel, as we learn from the fact that the statement, “The house of Ya’acov shall be fire, and the house of Yosef flame” (Ovadiah 1:18), is followed by the prophesy about the end of days, “Liberators shall ascend upon Mount Tzion to judge the mountain of Esav; and the kingdom shall be Hashem’s” (Ibid. 1:21). Likewise, the final geulah (redemption) will be in the merit of Rachel, as it states, “Thus says Hashem…Rachel is crying for her children…and your children shall return to their own borders” (Yirmeyahu 31:14-16).

The Power of Awe, Self-restraint and Tzniut
What are the qualities that Rachel and Yosef embody, which ultimately will defeat Esav and bring redemption? Rav Tzaddok of Lublin explains that it is the quality of Yosef’s fear/awe of G-d that has the power to overcome Amalek, Esav’s grandson. Amalek lacked this quality completely, as it states about him, “He did not fear G-d” (Devarim 25:18). Yosef, however, attributed this quality to himself, as he proclaimed, “I fear G-d” (Bereishit 42:16). Yosef’s fear of G-d was connected with his gevurah, the power and strength to overcome temptation. This is manifested by his ability to withstand the seduction of Potifar’s wife. Yosef, is, therefore, known to be the “guardian of the brith (covenant)”, referring to his holiness and chastity in action, speech and thought (Machshevot Charutz 13, Pri Tzadik, Purim 7). Yosef received this power from his mother Rachel, who is praised for her tzniut (Yalkut Shimoni, Bereishit 29:125). Rachel did not reveal to her sister, Leah that she and Ya’acov were in love. When Lavan seized the presents Ya’acov sent to Rachel and gave them to Leah, Rachel remained silent (Midrash Tanchuma, Vayetze Chapter 6). It is interesting to note that in spite of the fact that Rachel, the shepherdess, is called “the revealed world” in contrast to Leah, who represents “the hidden world” (Sefer Etz Chaim, Sha’ar 38, Chapter 2), Rachel is praised particularly for being hidden, silent, and modest. This teaches us that we specifically need modesty to survive spiritually in the outer world of affluence and physical attraction.

Spiritual Survival in the Outer World Depends on Being Inward Bound
Like his mother Rachel, Yosef was involved in “the revealed world” while being the master of modesty and restraint. In his role as the ruler of the most powerful empire of his time, he was involved in worldly affairs to the highest degree. Yet, all his power, honor, and wealth did not mar his inner holiness. Yosef did not let any of the worldly glamour influence him in the slightest. Rather, he remained unaffected in his fear of G-d and chastity. This is in contrast to Esav who was known for flaunting his assets. The midrash notes that Esav resembled a pig with its split hooves that makes it look outwardly kosher. Only when we look internally and perceive that it doesn't chew its cud do we realize that despite outward appearances it is a non-kosher animal (Bereishit Rabah 65:1). In contrast, our spiritual survival in exile depends on being modest while nurturing our internal holiness.

Developing Our Inner Fire
Esav’s power is specifically overcome by the tzniut of the children of Rachel. Even when involved in the world, whether in business, academics, arts, as farmers or doctors, they remain modest, G-d-fearing, and anchored to the Torah. It is quite a challenge to develop the character of tzniut in the competitive outer world, which values the external accomplishments of good grades, degrees, money and social prestige. As Gila Manolson writes in Outside Inside, true tzniut is to understand that “What I do” does not take the place of “Who I am.” Maintaining our spiritual center entails the awareness that the roots of our identity extend far beneath our performance. The more we realize that we are only vehicles for Hashem’s light to shine through, the less we care about being famous and powerful, and the less we depend on the praise of others for our self-gratification. When we stop “casting our gems to the boars,” and learn to focus our light inward, then our tzniut will generate a potent inner force that allows the Divine light that we reflect to eradicate the immorality of Esav. This process can be compared to a magnifying glass that concentrates the light of the sun into one inner point to create fire. The deeper we internalize the essence of tzniut, the more our internal light will become fire and flame to consume Esav’s external stubble of self-indulgence, greediness and hatred. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ya’acov’s Toil to Deserve His Wives

At the Raise Your Spirits Theater's production of
"Judge: The Song of Devora"
In my commentary on this week’s haftorah I discuss the hard work of Ya’acov for his wives according to both the simple meaning (peshat), midrash and Kabalah. According to the basic understanding, Ya’acov’s toil for the sake of his wives was a great heroic deed that we should emulate. It may seem at first glance as if the mystical level contradicts this but in the end you will see that also according to Kabalah, it was only through this hard, even excessive, work that Ya’acov was able to do a tikun (rectification) for Adam, and rescue his seed from the captivity of the serpent.

Haftorat Parashat Vayetze
Hoshea, Chapter 12:13-14:10
Willingness to Work Hard to Deserve His Wife
This week’s Haftorah (according to the Ashkenazim) opens with a verse that pertains directly to women, “Ya’acov fled to the land of Aram, and [there] Israel worked for a wife, and for a wife he guarded” (Hoshea 12:13).Why does the prophet mention that Ya’acov/Israel both “worked for a wife” and “guarded” for a wife? According to the peshat (simple meaning), after Ya’acov had worked seven years for Rachel, but received Leah in her place, he had to continue to guard Lavan’s flock for an additional seven years in order to “earn” Rachel. The fact that Ya’acov worked so hard in order to receive his wives, teaches us how high the woman is regarded in the Torah. A man needs to prove himself worthy to deserve a wife. Perhaps the archetypal killing of the dragon, for the sake of receiving the hand of the princess, derives from the story of Ya’cov, who with great mesirut nefesh (self-sacrifice) rescued Rachel and Leah from the evil Lavan. Also today, a man needs to appreciate the worth of his woman, and be willing to toil hard in order to deserve her. This is contrary to the attitude of certain men nowadays. A dating couple once came to me for advice. The man felt that in order to be ready to commit to marriage, he needed the woman to prove herself worthy, by helping him build up his business. This man ought to learn from Ya’acov, and regard the woman in a positive light, to the extent that he would feel the need to prove himself worthy of her. Women too, need to build up their self-confidence. Especially women, who have been abused, may have such a low self-image, that others can easily take advantage of them. Working on ingraining the self-image of a bat melech (princess) within themselves, will help them realize that they are entitled to a husband, who is willing to work hard for them. Being ready like Ya’acov, to go into hardship, and give up so much for the sake of meriting his bride, is a prerequisite for shalom bayit (peace in the home) as it helps the husband continue to appreciate his wife, throughout their subsequent marriage.

Keeping the Mitzvoth with the Help of His Wife
We find a homiletic interpretation of the above mentioned verse by Rabbi Avraham Shapira in Sefer Ohr HaMeir. He explains that working/serving (avad) refers to keeping the positive mitzvoth while guarding (shamar) refers to avoiding (guarding oneself from) transgressing the negative mitzvoth. The Hebrew prefix used in “for a wife” is the “beit” which also means “in” or “with.” Ya’acov could only keep the mitzvoth, both positive and negative, together with his wives, as it is the wife who enables a man to serve Hashem to the best of his capacity. In addition to those mitzvoth, which are impossible to keep without a wife such as “be fruitful and multiply” (Bereishit 1:28), the wife also polishes the diamond of her husband’s character. She challenges him to reach his highest potential, becoming a more sensitive and caring person. She also guides him to leaving the old ways behind and encourages him to focus on his mission. For example, in this week’s Parashah Rachel and Leah tell Ya’acov with one voice: “…now then, whatever G-d has said to you, do!” (Bereishit 31:16). Even today, most men need the support of their wives to keep the mitzvoth, including the mitzvah of setting aside fixed times for Torah learning.

A Spark of Ya’acov’s Spirit Guarded within His Wife
According to The Gate of Reincarnation by the Ariza”l, our verse includes a deep secret about soul reincarnations. Ya’acov, our father, worked fourteen years for Lavan “for a wife” – in order to marry his daughters. However, why did Ya’acov have to herd the sheep of this evil Lavan for so many years, rather than just trusting more in Hashem, who, had promised him, “I will never leave you…”? (Bereishit 28:15). According to Ariza”l’s kabbalistic interpretation, the consequence of Ya’acov’s subjugating himself to Lavan, and working so hard to marry his daughters, is alluded to in the last part of our verse, “For [In] a wife [he was] guard[ed]”. As we mentioned, the prefix “beit” used in “for a wife” also means “in.” Thus Arizal explains that a spark of Ya’acov’s soul was guarded within his wife.

Avigail – Soul-reincarnation of Ya’acov’s Spirit
The first time a man has relations with his wife, he places a spirit (רוחא) within her. Ya’acov, therefore, placed one spirit within Rachel and one within Leah. The spirit within Rachel was transferred to her son Binyamin, when she died in childbirth. Therefore, he was born the moment Rachel’s soul departed. However, the spirit that Ya’acov had placed within Leah, was reincarnated in Avigail the prophetess, Naval’s wife. This originally male spirit was transformed into a female, because Ya’acov worked so hard for Lavan, for the sake of a wife. Therefore, the spirit that Ya’acov deposited within Leah was guarded literally within a woman – Avigail. This is the secret of Avigail’s speech to David, “Now this blessing which your maidservant has brought (hevi) to my lord…” (1 Shemuel 25:27). By not using the feminine form of the verb heviah, she alludes to the fact that the root of her soul was masculine rather than feminine. Her husband Naval, was the reincarnation of Lavan. Their names consist of the exact same letters, (lamed, beit and nun). As a consequence of Ya’acov working excessively for Lavan, part of his spirit was reincarnated in Avigail, who married Naval, in order to now serve him as a wife serves a husband. This was a replay of Ya’acov’s serving Lavan for the sake of a wife in their previous reincarnation.

Rescuing Rachel, Leah and Avigail from the Primordial Serpent
The real secret behind all these reincarnations is that Ya’acov’s soul emanated from Adam the first man (Babylonian Talmud, Baba Metzia 84a). From Adam, two holy drops of seed, which were to become Rachel and Leah, fell into the captivity of the primordial serpent. Ya’aov needed to work guarding Lavan’s sheep for all these years, until he was able to recover these two holy drops from Lavan, whose soul derived from the serpent. Only then, was he able to rescue Rachel and Leah, from the captivity of their serpent father. Ya’acov’s hard work for Lavan had repercussions for many generations, and impacted King David, who was also a reincarnation of Adam. It was Ya’acov’s work that empowered David to rescue Avigail from the power of the primordial serpent, personified as Naval, the reincarnation of Lavan. This was the completion of tikun for Adam to return his holy drops from the other side. (Ariza”l, The Gate of Reincarnation, Introduction thirty six).

May we merit that our hard work too will engender tikunim (rectifications) and speed up our final redemption!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The “Esavs” and the “Ya’acovs” of Today

This week’s haftorah touches upon a question I received from one of my readers, regarding Rivkah’s binah, which I highlighted in my commentary of last week’s haftorah  (see the comments on my blog). Our haftorah spells out what is hinted in the Torah portion regarding the truth of Rivkah’s perception concerning her sons. Hashem clearly validates Rivkah’s affinity for Ya’acov, while outrightly condemning Esav. However, even Esav has redeeming qualities. “For there was venison in his mouth,” can be understood to refer to holy sparks concealed within his head, which was buried in the Machpelah cave. Read on to learn about the “Esavs” and “Ya’acovs” of today and how to elevate the sparks of Esav. 

Haftorat Parashat Toldot
Malachi Chapter 1:1-2:7
“…I loved Ya’acov, but I hated Esav…”
This week's Haftorah opens with the Prophet Malachi bringing to our attention the tremendous love Hashem has for Ya’acov and his children, contrasted with how He hates Esav, his twin brother. No matter how much Ya’acov’s offspring – the Jewish people – sin and shows lack of honor, we remain Hashem’s selected people for eternity. When Hashem admonishes us and punishes us, it is only because of His great love for us. “I loved you, said Hashem, but you said, ‘How have You loved us?’ Was not Esav a brother to Ya’acov? Says Hashem. Yet, I loved Ya’acov, but I hated Esav, and I made his mountains desolate and his heritage into [a habitat for] the jackals of the desert” (Malachi 1:2-3). According to Rashi, Hashem’s love of Ya’acov’s descendents is expressed though His giving them the most pleasant land – the Land of Israel; and His hatred of Esav’s descendants is expressed through pushing them away from the Land of Israel, for the sake of Ya’acov.

Rivkah’s Perception and Unconditional Love Reflected in Hashem’s Love of Israel
Malachi rebuked the Jewish People for not treating the Temple with proper reverence, and the Kohanim (priests) for offering blemished animals on G-d's altar. Nevertheless, the selection of the Jewish people can never be rescinded, since Rivkah ensured that Ya’acov rather than Esav received Yitzchak’s blessing to continue his spiritual mission. While Yitzchak was blinded by the honor Esav showed him (Rashi 25:27and 28), Rivkah was able to see through the façade of Esav’s politeness and understand the true nature of her children. “And Yitzchak loved Esav because he was hunting with his mouth, but Rivkah loves Ya’acov” (Bereishit 25:28). Whereas Yitzchak’s love is written in the past tense (“loved”), Rivkah’s love for Ya’acov is written in the present (“loves”). According to Kli Yakar Yitzchak’s love for Esav was conditional, he only loved him when he brought him food, but Rivkah's love for Ya’acov was unconditional and therefore beyond time. Her unconditional love described in this week’s parashah is reflected in Hashem’s unconditional love for Ya’acov’s descendants as described by Malachi in this week’s Haftorah.

Distinguishing between the “Esavs” and “Ya’acovs” of Today
It is not incidental that this week’s Haftorah is taken from the Book of Malachi, the last of the prophets and a member of the Anshei K’nesset HaGedolah, (The Men of the Great Assembly). They defined the contents of the Tana”ch (Hebrew Bible), realizing that the Spirit of Prophecy was about to withdraw from the Jewish People for an extensive period. During our long exile at the hand of Esav’s descendants, it is difficult not to be blinded by the glimmer of exterior accomplishments. Material goods and comfort-craving have become the underlying motive for the vast assimilation that we witness in the Western world. Ya’acov’s descendants have readily joined the ranks of Esav at the fancy shopping malls, football games, television sets, and gourmet restaurants. Even the Torah true families in the Western World are not shielded from the powerful influence of the enticing “Esavness.” At this time we are reminded not to be like “Yitzchak [who] loved Esav because he was hunting with his mouth” – i.e. trapping him with words (Rashi), or enticing him with advertisements for all kinds of goodies. Rather, we women must strive to be like Rivkah and see through the trappings of exterior gloss and “love Ya’acov.” Instead of amusement-parks, circuses and operas, we yearn for the “Voice of Ya’acov” – the holiness of Torah learning and tefilah (prayer).

Elevating the “Hands of Esav” Without Compromising Our “Voice of Ya’acov”
In this week’s Haftorah, Hashem confirms Rivkah’s perceptiveness, by echoing her choice of affection “…but Rivkah loves Ya’acov” with Hashem’s proclamation, “…yet, I loved Ya’acov.” Hashem’s love of Ya’acov is due to his devotion to Torah and mitzvot. Esav, on the other hand, is detested “…but I hated Esav…” because of his conniving self-indulgence and cruelty. Despite the contrast between Ya’acov and Esav, the fact that they were twin brothers, teaches us how difficult it can be to tell them apart. At times, there is only a hair’s breadth of difference between using secular knowledge, the internet, and movies in the way of Ya’acov rather than that of Esav. Everything in the secular world is at our disposal to elevate and serve Hashem, as long as we ensure that it remains the exterior “vessel” rather than interior the “light” for us. When Rivkah dressed Ya’acov up as Esav, she empowered Ya’acov and his descendants to use the mantle of Esav, as long as it remains an exterior garment, for Torah and Mitzvot. “The voice is the voice of Ya’acov, but the hands are the hands of Esav” (Bereishit 27:22). As long as we ensure that our inner voice of Torah and tefilah remain pure and unaffected by “the hands of Esav” with which we connect to the world, then indeed, we, have the ability to use the tools available in the modern world. Unfortunately, “the hands of Esav” easily lure us to becoming trapped in exterior impressive wrappings such as hedonistic indulgence and honor seeking, causing us to choose secular degrees and over the pursuit of holiness. Let us tap into Rivkah’s ability to distinguish between the “Esavs” and “Ya’acovs” of today, and keep our inner purity intact!