Until now the both of you lived a sheltered life. You spent most of your time studying in Torah institutions and had very little to do with our big, challenging, and sometimes even hostile world. With your entry into marriage, you will have before you two paths of life. On one hand, with G‑d’s help, you will start building a beautiful home, one which will hopefully be l’sheim uletiferet — a prominent and resplendent home — and simultaneously, on the other hand, you will encounter the big world, which means having to deal with the Eisavs of society. These are people who consider the religious Jew to be antiquated and maintain that he must adjust to their conception of the proper lifestyle.

Unfortunately, many of these Jews were at one time nice little Yaakovs. They talk nostalgically about their frum parents, and they recall their father’s venerable appearance and their mother’s kosher kitchen and Shabbat table, but they have drifted from that kind of life. To justify their succumbing to the Eisav ethic, they refer to our Parshah, Vayishlach, and say in a convincing tone that even Yaakov made concessions and yielded to Eisav when he lived with him. It was Eisav who dominated the scene, and it was Yaakov who went out of his way to appease his brother Eisav.

These quasi-talmudei chachamim — scholars — are of course referring to the pasuk “And he took of that what had come into his hand a present for Eisav his brother. For he said: I will appease him with the present that goes before me, and afterwards I will see his face; perhaps he will receive me kindly” (32:14, 21).

There is a well-known quote “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” Had they taken the time and trouble to consider our Parshah, they would have reached the very opposite conclusion, and would see in it an indictment of their conduct as a Jew. Certainly, Yaakov was willing to give something to Eisav! But what? He send Eisav rams and goats and camels — material things which the Patriarch had earned with the labor of his hands and the sweat of his brow. But he did not yield any of his convictions or change the mode of his life in order to ingratiate himself in the eyes of Eisav.

This thought is stressed in Rashi’s comment on the phrase “min haba beyado” — “from what had come into his hand.” He states that it refers to “precious stones and pearls which a person binds in a bundle and carries in his hand.” Another interpretation is that he gave “min hachulin — of the profane and unconsecrated things” (32:14). Yaakov did not hesitate to give money, jewels and cattle as a price for Eisav’s goodwill. He parted with things that pass from hand to hand, items that belong to one person today and to another the next day. “Here are my sheep and my camels,” Yaakov said. “Take my jewels and my precious stones. They are chullin — profane — items that can be replaced. But my heart and my brain, my neshamah and my faith are sacred to me, and I will not part from them until the very end of my life.”

Yaakov instructed his people, “If Eisav should confront you with the question ‘lemi atah, ve’anah teileich, ulemi eileh lefanecha’ — ‘to whom do you belong, what is your destination and to whom do all these belong?’ your answer shall be ‘Le’avdecha leYaakov minchah hi sheluchah le’Eisav’ — ‘Your servant’s Yaakov’s, it is a gift sent to Eisav.’ Tell Eisav, ‘even though we worked hard and earned it honestly, we are willing to give it to you if that will satisfy your demands.’ But as to the question ‘lemi atah’ — ‘to whom do you belong’ — and ‘ve’anah teileich’ — ‘what is your goal in life’--make it very clear that you — your heart and your soul — belong to no one but to Yaakov, and your ultimate destinationis to follow him in the return to your ancient home.”

This legacy was not limited to one generation: “And so he commanded also the second, also the third, and also all the droves that followed” (Ibid. 32:20). Yaakov ordered every succeeding generation of his descendants to emulate his example. Jews may have bowed down in Poland to the rude poretz and in Russia to an officer of the army and the police. They may have had to give their hard-earned possessions to the vicious Eisavs of other times and places. They yielded, however, on everything that came under the heading of chullin — profane material. But when the same vicious people ordered them to give up kadashim — that which is holy and sacred, to violate the Shabbat, or eat non-kosher food, they would permit themselves to be incarcerated or flogged (even to death) rather than comply. When the kadashim — sacred matters — were involved, the seemingly yielding Jews surprised their enemies with outstanding courage and heroism.

What a picture the full knowledge of the text reveals! What a difference there was between the true meaning of the story of Yaakov and Eisav, and the way some people erroneously see it!

My dear Chatan and Kallah, you have been taught what are the kadashim — holy things — and what are the chullin — profane matters — in Jewish life. Never mix up the priorities. Don’t sell the kadashim — spiritual values — for the sake of acquiring the chullin — material success. Resolve to shield and protect our kadashim — the cherished and sacred treasures of K’lal Yisrael — and G‑d will bless you not only spiritually but also with material abundance.

(הרב דוד ארי' ז"ל בערזאן עם הוספות)


"ואלה בני רעואל בן עשו אלוף נחת"
“These are the children of Reuel, the son of Eisav, chief Nachas.” (36:17)

QUESTION: Why, when we wish a person “nachas” from his children and grandchildren, do we emphasize Yiddishe or chassidishe nachas?

ANSWER: Eisav had a grandchild named “Nachas.” Therefore, when wishing someone “nachas,” we emphasize that we are not referring, G‑d forbid, to the type of “nachas” Eisav had. We are referring to real “nachas,” the kind which is derived from children and grandchildren who grow up in a Yiddish and chassidish way.

(שמעתי מהרב רפאל ז"ל שטיין)