Kahane on the Parsha
Rabbi Binyamin Kahane- Parshat VaYechi
SOMETIMES IT'S GOOD TO BE DEAF
When Jacob died, his sons took his body to Canaan for burial in Me'arat HaMachpela. When they arrived, however, they found Esav waiting for them with some "news"- "The remaining burial plot in the cave belongs to me," he said.
The stunned sons tried reminding Esav that he sold the spot to Jacob. Nothing doing. After an exchange of words (see Sotah 13a for details), they agreed that Naftali would run to Egypt and bring the document confirming that the burial plot was indeed sold to Jacob. In the meantime, they waited.
One of those waiting was Chushim, son of Dan. Chushim was deaf and therefore did not hear the discussion between his uncles and Esav. At a certain point, he asked his uncles what was causing the delay. They replied that Esav was holding up the burial until Naftali returned from Egypt.
Chushim was shocked: "Should my grandfather lie here in dishonor until Naftali returns?!" He immediately grabbed a stick, ran up to Esav, and killed him with a blow to the head. The Talmud relates that Esav's eyes fell out of their sockets and rested next to the legs of Jacob- an event memorialized by the verse, "The righteous one shall rejoice when he sees vengeance; he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked" (Psalms 58:11).
This story is very strange. Why was Chushim the only one present who was shocked at what was happening? Why was he the only one who rose up to put an end to the disgraceful situation? Didn't anyone else care about Jacob's honor? Where were the zealots Shimon and Levi? Where was the mighty Yehuda?
The answer to these questions teaches us an awesome lesson. The difference between Chushim and the rest of Jacob's progeny was that Chushim was the only one not involved in the negotiations with Esav. Psychologically, the moment you hear out the other party and consider his point of view, even the most outrageous claim begins to be "understood." The very act of discussing it desensitizes you as you get accustomed to ideas which previously seemed absurd.
Without a doubt, if someone had told Jacob's sons beforehand that Esav was waiting for them at Me'arat HaMachpela to prevent their father's burial, they would have boiled over with holy rage and made sure they knew how to handle the situation. But what happened was, the moment they arrived, Esav made his case: "It's mine." Sure, Jacob's sons were shocked and angry, but it is human nature not to want to leave an argument or claim unanswered. And so they reminded him that he had sold the birthright. Esav immediately countered, "I never sold my burial spot."
At this point, the brothers knew Esav was wrong, but the fact is he had made an argument, and an argument demands some kind of answer. More importantly, at this stage Jacob's sons found themselves in the heat of a negotiation process. A neutral observer could easily get the impression that both sides were making reasonable claims. He would certainly have great difficulty realizing that before him stood a scoundrel whose entire goal was to disgrace Jacob.
Chushim, meanwhile, did not hear any of the back and forth. He knew only one thing: "My grandfather is lying here in disgrace!" Jacob's sons certainly knew exactly the kind of derelict, cheater, and murderer Esav was. But since they had entered into negotiations with him, they began to think that he was perhaps being sincere this time, and said to themselves, "All we need to do is convince him that we are right and everything will be okay." But Chushim did not have the opportunity to become "convinced" of Esav's sincerity and did not understand how the brothers were allowing this low-life to delay, even for a moment, the burial of Jacob, the father of the nation. And so, he stood up and took action!
Sometimes it is forbidden to negotiate. "What's wrong with it?" people ask. "After all, you're only talking?" But it's not so. When you hear out the other person- even if you know he is a liar with evil intentions- you will begin to "understand" him and think there might be something to what he is saying, after all.
Unfortunately, for years now we have been exposed to the lies of our enemies. Recently, even those faithful to Eretz Yisrael have begun to "adjust to the reality." We have grown used to htings that would never have entered our minds only a few years ago. Heaven forbid it! Let us be zealous for truth, and not have inferiority complexes when facing false claims from the lowest of peoples. WE ARE RIGHT! IT IS OUR LAND, AND NO FOREIGN NATION SHALL DWELL IN IT!
Darks Shel Torah, 1997
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