toldos

This Shabbos we read Parshas Toldos. The Parsha begins with the story of the birth of the two sons of Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Esau. The Torah describes how from the beginning, while still in the womb of Rebecca, these two boys were totally different from each other. When they grew up, the difference emerged in a very extreme manor. Jacob became a diligent scholar; his diligence was so strong that during the fourteen years he spent in the yeshiva of Shem and Aiver he did not even lie down in a bed to take normal nights sleep. Esau, on the other hand, became a murderer and committed adultery. However, when the Torah describes these two young men it does not talk about their actions. Rather, it just describes personality traits.

Jacob we are told was an ish tam yoshaiv ohalim; a wholesome man, dwelling in tents. Esau, on the other hand, is described as an ish sadeh; which means a man of the field. The commentaries explain that the meaning of Jacob dwelling in tents was that he was someone who wanted to know more, to look for more ways to connect with Hashem. The meaning of Esau being a man of the field is that he was a person with nothing to do no desire to occupy himself with anything that had to do with growth and connection to Hashem. Why does the Torah describe Jacob and Esau in such basic terms and not describe the amazing spiritual level Jacob rose to and describe the terrible depths that Esau fell to?

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz explains that the Torah wants to tell us the roots of what caused Jacob to succeed and Esau to fall. The root of all success in growing in life is the desire to change and grow. The root of all evil is the desire to do nothing and produce nothing. If we want to improve, all we have to do is get ourselves into a pattern of seeking to grow. Once this happens, the results will certainly be one of closeness to Hashem.