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GOOD MORNING! What would you do if you knew you had two months to live? What lessons about life would you want to share with your family and loved ones? What would you write in a letter to your children?
___In Jewish tradition, it was/is common for parents to leave an ethical will or write a letter to their children synthesizing their insights into life and give their instructions on how to live one's life. One of the most famous letters is that of the Ramban, Nachmanides, who was born in Spain in 1194. The following excerpt is the latter part of a letter written to his son. It is adapted from the translation in A Letter for the Ages by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer (which includes the letter in its entirety along with commentary). The book is available at your local Jewish bookstore, at http://www.judaicaenterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242.
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Torah Portion of the Week
___Rivka (Rebecca) gives birth to Esav (Esau) and Ya'akov (Jacob). Esav sells the birthright to Ya'akov for a bowl of lentil soup. Yitzhak (Isaac) sojourns in Gerar with Avimelech (Avimelech), king of the Philistines. Esav marries two Hittite women bringing great pain to his parents (because they weren't of the fold).
___Ya'akov impersonates Esav on the counsel of his mother in order to receive the blessing for the oldest son by his blind father, Yitzhak. Esav, angry because of his brother's deception which caused him to lose the firstborn blessings, plans to kill Ya'akov, so Ya'akov flees to his uncle Lavan (Laban) in Padan Aram - on the advice of his parents. They also advise him to marry Lavan's daughter.
___Esav understands that his Canaanite wives are displeasing to his parents, so he marries a third wife, Machlath, the daughter of Ishmael.
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based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
___The Torah states:
|"And the first came out red, all over like a hairy garment; and they called his name Esav (Esau)." (Genesis 25:25)|
___Esau became a murderer and his red hair became associated with a personality that might lead to murder. (Even today many people think of red-haired people as passionate, sometimes quick to anger personalities.)
___The Midrash, (Braishit Rabbah 63) relates that when the prophet Shmuel went to appoint David to be the king of Israel, he saw that David was admoni, of ruddy complexion. He became very frightened and said, "He too will be a murderer like Esau." The Almighty told Shmuel that there was no need to be afraid. When Esau killed it was in cold blood, but David would only take a life to carry out the just decisions of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish Supreme Court).
___We see from this Midrash that when someone has a basic personality tendency it is a reality of his nature that he will be what he truly is. However, a person has free will to choose how this tendency will be manifested. (The head of the FBI Behavioral Profiling Unit once said that no serial killer was so compelled to murder that he did it in front of a policeman.) Esau's tendency towards bloodshed led him down an evil path. David, on the other hand, was a mighty warrior who would utilize his natural tendencies for elevated purposes.
___This concept is expressed very clearly by the Vilna Gaon: "A person should not go completely against his nature even if it is bad, for he will not succeed. He should merely train himself to follow the straight path in accordance with his nature. For example, someone who has an inclination to spill blood should train himself to become a ritual slaughterer or a mohel (ritual circumciser)."
CANDLE LIGHTING - November 9
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Guatemala 5:13 - Hong Kong 5:24 - Honolulu 5:33
J'Burg 6:11 - London 4:02 - Los Angeles 4:36
Melbourne 7:45 - Mexico City 6:41 - Miami 5:18
New York 4:26 - Singapore 6:33 - Toronto 4:41
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Good judgment comes from experience,
and experience comes from bad judgment.
- Will Rogers
With Deep Appreciation to|
Frank & Elaine Gelb