Sharing Torah Insights

The Little Things In Life

Posted on ב׳ בכסלו ה׳תש״ע (November 19, 2009) | in Toldot | by

This week’s Parsha starts with the story of the birth of Yaakov and Esav. Yaakov is born grasping onto Esav’s heel, seemingly trying to prevent his older brother from being born first.

וְאַחֲרֵי-כֵן יָצָא אָחִיו, וְיָדוֹ אֹחֶזֶת בַּעֲקֵב עֵשָׂו, וַיִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ, יַעֲקֹב.

And after that came forth his brother, and his hand had hold on Esav’s heel (Ekev); and his name was called Yaakov.

The Abarbanel lists 5 different things that this symbolizes. One of these is the idea that Yaakov would grasp onto those things that Esav felt were unimportant and understand their true value. Esav would always choose physicality while Yaakov was able to see the spirituality of the world that Esav ignored.

In Parshat Ekev the Parsha opens:

וְהָיָה עֵקֶב תִּשְׁמְעוּן, אֵת הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים הָאֵלֶּה, וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם וַעֲשִׂיתֶם, אֹתָם–וְשָׁמַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְךָ, אֶת-הַבְּרִית וְאֶת-הַחֶסֶד, אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע, לַאֲבֹתֶיךָ.

And it shall come to pass, because you hearken to these ordinances, and keep, and do them, that the LORD your God shall keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers.

In this context, the word עֵקֶב (Ekev) means “because”, but Rashi immediately points the similarity between the word עֵקֶב meaning “heel”. Rashi explains the verse to mean that HaShem will keep his covenant with us if we are careful even with the Mitzvot that man “crushes with his heel.”

The Ohr HaChayim notes that in Parshat Ekev, the Parsha starts with the word וְהָיָה (And it will be). He points out that everywhere this word appears, it connotes a level of happiness. This comes to show, he says, that there is no true happiness except being able to properly keep all the mitzvot that HaShem commands us to do.

Through this understanding of the word עֵקֶב, we can now see how Yaakov was able to focus on those elements of spirituality that Esav threw by the wayside.

Yaakov saw how important it is to be able to appreciate and enjoy every opportunity to do even the smallest of Mitzvot that Esav rejected as meaningless and insignificant. By seeing the beauty and joy of even the most mundane and seemingly meaningless Mitzvot, Yaakov was able to develop himself into an Ish Tam, a truly complete person.

Shabbat Shalom

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