Kahane on the Parsha
Rabbi Binyamin Kahane- Parshat Toldot
AN ETERNAL WAR
The war in Rebecca's womb is intense. In one corner sits Jacob, who at this early stage is already fighting for divine truth. And in the other corner sits Esav, who is already denying G-d and viewing life as an opportunity to indulge one's desires and passions.
This turbulence in Rebecca's stomach is when it all started. It marks the beginning of the greatest war, the war between good and evil, a war that dwarfs all others. Whether one wants to accept it or not, this war lies behind every scene in history.
Indeed, it is a war so basic and of such substance that it knows no lull. These two fetuses, which embody good and evil, are not able to stand each other even in their mother's womb. "And the children clashed inside her" (Genesis 25:22).
"It is a well-known rule that Esav hates Jacob" (Sifri, Bamidbar 69). It is an inherent, natural hatred, one that cannot be extinguished. Our Rabbis teach us that if someone comes to you and says, "Jerusalem and Edom [the Kingdom of Esav] are both thriving"- do not believe him; "both are destroyed"- do not believe him; "one is thriving and one is destroyed"- believe him (Megillah 6a).
There are those who believe the time has arrived for world peace, for coexistence between nations, religions, and races of all kinds. The Torah comes and says, "NO WAY!" There can be no peace with Esav. Jacob and Esav are polar opposites. One is good and one is evil. And there is no coexistence between good and evil.
A revolutionary idea? Hardly. Certainly not for someone who learns Torah properly. For the Jewish people, there is no aspiration to make peace with Esav. On the contrary. According to Jewish tradition, G-d is not complete and His throne is not complete until Amalek has been completely destroyed (Pesikta Rabbati 12). And who is Amalek? Esav's grandchild- an extreme manifestation of his grandfather.
What we desire is what Solomon prescribes in Kohelet- peace at the proper time and war at the proper time. yes, we all want peace, but only with good and decent people. With evil, not only aren't we interested in peace, the Torah commands us to wage an all-out war against it: "And you shall destroy the evil from thy midst!" Nothing less than that. For the war against evil is not a personal war, but rather a mission that G-d gave us the moment we breathed the air of this world--and even before that.
Darka Shel Torah, 1993
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