Excerpts from a lesson given by HaRav Eliezer Berland, shlit"a, Parshas Toldos.

      In the story of "The Seven Beggars," on the fourth day, the beggar with the crooked neck relates how only he is able to unite the two birds.  All the beggars in the story are the aspect of the tzaddik. Here, the Rebbe is teaching that all the shidduchim are done by the tzaddik. The two birds are described in the story as the only such pair of birds in the world. Every bride and groom have this aspect of each being the other's only true partner in the world. This is why it is so important not to delay getting married. One should get married as soon as he is of age, and not be confused by all the possible preventions: financial, new responsibilities, etc. More than this, a person can actually be punished for delaying getting married, because of the sorrow that he causes his true partner, that she then has to wait until he decides he is ready. 
    This is one of the reasons that Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aharon were killed. They had decided not to get married in order to be able to devote themselves wholeheartedly to serving Hashem. However, there were many women who saw themselves as suitable brides for them, who then refrained from getting married in the hope that they would be chosen. The sorrow that Nadav and Avihu caused to these women, and all the more so, the sorrow that they caused to their true partner, factored into their eventual punishment. 
    Before the wedding, a couple can be as far apart as the opposite ends of the world, similar to the two birds in the story, and they have to pray very much that they will be brought together, that they will merit to find their true partner.  Even after the wedding, the couple should continue to pray all their lives that they will always be as one, living as a single unity. The story explains how it is impossible to come to the place of the birds by day, due to the incredible joy surrounding each of the birds created by the words of consolation that their fellow birds give them. Each of the birds is kept from sadness by their consolation, and they understand that it is impossible that they will not ultimately come to find their true partner.
    The reason that people, in general, cannot stand to see happiness is because they themselves are in such a state of misery and despair. Similar to a person coming out of a dark room into the light, the slightest happiness confuses them. In the story, the people living in the each of the countries where the birds were could not sleep at night due to wailing, but by day, the sound of the happiness could not be heard outside of the immediate area. This shows us that sadness is stronger and more powerful than happiness. Similarly, the book of Ezra (3:13) describes how many of people who came up from Bavel to build the second Temple had actually been alive during the time of the first Temple, seventy years earlier, and had seen it with their own eyes. How they wept upon remembering how the first Temple had been built by Shlomo Hamelech of gold and silver, and how the second one was now being built out of wood and plaster. The sound of the happiness of those who were seeing for the first time in their lives the Temple in Jerusalem was completely drowned out by the sound of the weeping of those who had seen the first one (see Rashi, there.)
      In Likutei Moharan I:30, we see the same aspect as the weeping of the two birds. In this lesson, Rabbi Nachman speaks about the weeping of Hashem as he laments over the shechina that has fallen to the klippot, which are the  husks, or the forces of evil. This separation was caused by the falling of chochma, wisdom, through the abandoning of the learning of Torah, in favor of the learning of other wisdoms (secular studies.) As much as one fills his head with secular studies (which incline one towards improper thoughts, desires and behaviour,) so he decreases the holy wisdom that he possesses. As Rabbi Nachman explains, the Gemara relates that when Shlomo Hamelech married the daughter of Paro, the angel Gavriel came down and stuck a cane in the sea, and about this cane was built the huge and powerful city of Rome. The daughter of Paro is an allusion to the outside wisdoms, the angel Gavriel coming down represents the falling of the gevurot, the forces of holiness, which resulted in the creation of the city of Rome, renowned for its unwholesome behaviour. 
      Regarding the matter of gevurot, Parshas Toldos begins with with the verse, "These are the generations of Yitzchak, Avraham gave birth to Yitzchak." Avraham is the aspect of chessed, loving kindness, and Yitzchak, gevurot, strict judgment. Yitzchak was able to sweeten the harsh judgments through the application of loving kindness. In other words, the verse is teaching that the aspect of gevurot possessed by Yitzchak was sweetened by the aspect of chassadim that he had inherited from Avraham. The Tanna deve Eliahu teaches that Avraham and Sarah had been praying for eighty five years, to have a son, until Yitzchak was born. Since he was born to Sarah when she was age eighty nine, and Avraham was ninety nine, that means that they must have got married and started praying when Sarah was age four, and Avraham age fourteen. As is brought in Bereishis 18:12, "Sarah laughed when Hashem told her that she was going to have a child," since she herself had returned to her youthfulness (Rashi 17:16), but her husband was far too old to have children. The Kamarner clarifies that her laugh was one of  regret--that in order to be able to bear a child, Hashem had  to perform a miracle for her and rejuvenate her body back to the way it was when she was twenty years old.
    Sara, however, had been praying for eighty five years that she would be like her husband, and be able to give birth in her old age. The reason for this is that she wanted to be able to conceive without the slightest hint of desire, that she and Avraham should be like two dried out sticks of wood. Only this would ensure that the baby would be born completely pure, without any of the desires of this world, no gevurot, no evil inclination. Hashem answers her (Bereishis 18:14), " would this be too hard a thing for Me?" In other words, He could have allowed it that she would be able to give birth in old age to a child completely without an evil inclination, but really, it would be far better that she should give birth as a young girl, the same as everybody else, to a child with an evil inclination, like all children.  Then the child himself would have to fight this evil inclination and subdue it, sweetening the gevurot through the chassadim. This is what the verse at the beginning of the parsha is coming to explain, that Yitzchak, at the age of sixty, had sweetened all his gevurot and had conquered his evil inclination through the chassadim that he had received from Avraham. He had become a true descendant of Avraham.
    This is the argument that the wise men of Israel had against the wise men of the nations (Rambam, Shmone Prachim, 6) who held that it would be better for a man to be born with no evil inclination, in order for him to be able to serve Hashem with no obstacles and confusions. The wise men of Israel answered no, exactly the opposite, that precisely by fighting against the evil inclination can one turn it into a flame with which to serve Hashem, (as mentioned in last weeks shiur.) 
    The bride and groom, during the seven days after their marriage, can also achieve this level. Up until they get married they have this aspect of,  "no evil inclination."  Only after the wedding does the test start: the gevurot come into the picture, and they must try to sweeten them with chassadim, to use them to serve Hashem. Never again will they have such an opportunity to have such longings to serve Hashem.
      In the same way that Sarah had laughed, Og the King of Bashan also laughed.  As the Midrash relates, when Yaakov came down to Egypt with his family, seventy strong, Og was at that time by Paro. Paro asked Og why had he not killed Avraham, which is what everyone had wanted, at the time when he had gone against the whole world with his revolutionary new theory, that there was just one G-d who had created the heaven and the earth? Og said that there was no need, Avraham was just a dry stick of wood who was never going to have any children, and would be dead in a short while, anyway. Then he did have a child.
    The Midrash Rabbah states that Yitzchak was the first child to be born actually as a child. Up till then, all the
children that had been born, were born already grown up. The Midrash brings a story about a child who immediately after birth had a fight with a demon. The fight lasted the whole night until the morning. Before daybreak the demon told the child, "Go and tell your mother that you had a miracle. That because it is daybreak I have to leave and do not have time to kill you."  The new-born child answered him, "You go and tell your mother that you had a miracle. If I had not still been connected to my mother by the umbilical cord, I would have killed you." 
    When Yitzchak was born, everyone said to Og, "You see. He did have a child!" Og was convulsed with laughter, "Such a tiny creature, if I put my finger on his nose he will suffocate."  The next thing they knew, Yaakov was coming down to Egypt with his whole family. Og put the evil eye on them, but Hashem said, "One of his descendants is going to kill you."  And this is precisely what happened, that Moshe did indeed kill him. 
    When Yitzchak blessed Yaakov with the blessing he had intended for Esav, why did Hashem not reveal to Yitzchak that Yaakov was really the tzaddik, and should be blessed accordingly, the same as He had by Avraham, when He told him that Yitzchak was his true descendant, and not Yishmael. In parshas Lech Lecha, (Bereishis 17:18), Hashem tells Avraham that he is going to have a son from his wife, Sarah, and Avraham argues, "May my son Yishmael live before you."  The Zohar says about this statement that it was the start of all the troubles that have came to the Jewish people ever since. To send Yishmael away into the desert was the hardest of all the tests that Avraham had to take, harder even than sacrificing Yitzchak. When all the nations in the land heard about him sending away his son, they were all in shock. It was written in all the newspapers of the land, the incredible cruelty of Avraham. A sick child being sent out into the desert with no water! Who had ever heard of such behaviour? Only through the direct intervention of Hashem was the truth made known to him. Why couldn't Hashem do the same thing now? The Midrash relates how Rivka had said to Yaakov, that if he did not go in and receive the blessing from his father, she was going to go and tell him that Esav was completely evil and that Yaakov was the true tzaddik. She was not going to let him give the blessing to Esav under any circumstances. So why was it that it had to be this way, that Yitzchak should be so mistaken, and that Yaakov should have to fool his father into giving him the blessing?  (Surely it would have been much better if Rivka had gone in and told Yitzchak the truth: that would have been a much more simple solution!)  The reason is that even the mistakes of the tzaddikim are intended from heaven. If Yitzchak had blessed Yaakov intentionally, should it ever subsequently happen that a generation should fall below the level that Yaakov was on, the blessing would automatically have been canceled. But since he intended to bless Esav, who was a complete sinner, it turned out that even a generation of sinners, one that abandoned Hashem completely, as Esav had done, would still be blessed.
    Later, for instance, in the generation of Achaz, who closed down all the synagogues and yeshivas, still the blessing was not canceled. As is explained in Sheeris Yisrael  by the Valednicker Rebbe (Shaar Hiskashrut, 7:4), sometimes it happens that Hashem drops the tzaddik into a mistake in order to bring back in tshuva, repentance, even sinners that are completely cut off from the Torah. For it can be that one can sin so much that he completely separates himself from the Torah, that he has no part in it whatsoever, and only through the tzaddik making a mistake, for instance saying a mistaken verse, not according to the Torah, through these words spoken 'outside' the Torah, he can bring back the soul of the person who has taken himself "outside" the Torah, through his behaviour.
      The Midrash Rabbah brings two stories of tremendously evil people who repented. The first was the nephew of Yosi ben Yoezer, who rode up on a horse as the Romans were dragging his uncle away to hang him.  He laughed at his uncle, "Uncle, look at what a beautiful horse I have!"  His uncle laughed back at him, "If you, who go against the will of Hashem, have such a horse, just imagine what kind of horse I, who do the will of Hashem, am going to have."  "But Uncle, look at the horse you have now. You are just being dragged along the ground!" His uncle gave him the same answer, "If I, who do the will of Hashem, am being taken away in such a fashion, just imagine how they are going to take you away!"  The nephew, on considering this answer, immediately returned in repentance.
    The second story is of Yosef Mashita, who was a friend of the Greeks who had taken over the country. They were scared, however, to enter into the Temple. The Greeks told Yosef Mashita that if he would go in first, he could keep whatever he carried out. He came out with one of the ten golden menorahs. They changed their minds when they saw such a beautiful object. They told him that such a thing was not fitting for a simple person like him, and that he should give it to them, and go and get something else for himself. He refused. First they tried to persuade him, then to bribe him, and finally they sawed him apart, limb from limb. As his soul was leaving him, he repented of all his years of evil behaviour and cried out, "Woe is me that I angered my Creator!" 
      On the other hand, this weeks parsha relates about one who did not repent. At the end of the parsha, (Bereishis 28:9), Esav understands that his two Canaanite wives were a cause of sorrow to his father and mother, so he marries Machalat, the daughter of Yishmael. Rashi explains that he was just adding wickedness to his wickedness by marrying another wife without divorcing the first two. Later, in parshas Vayishlach, (Bereishis 36:3), she is called by the name Basmat, and Rashi explains there that the name Machalat, used earlier, is referring to the fact that a man is forgiven all his sins on the day of his marriage. So why does Rashi not bring that explanation at the first mention? The answer is because the day of his marriage was the day Esav sent his son Eliphaz to kill Yaakov, and he therefore was not forgiven anything, and is even described as, "adding wickedness to his wickedness." 
      Parshas  Bereishis 27:33 relates that Yaakov "trembled with an exceedingly great trembling" when he realized that it was not his firstborn son, Esav, that he had blessed. The Rashbam explains what exactly was this "great trembling." (Despite the fact that Yitzchak understood that he had blessed Yaakov and not Esav, as he had intended, he could have been simply 'sorry,' or 'regretful,' why such a trembling?  What was it that brought out such a strong reaction?)  The reason is, that when Yaakov came in, Yitzchak had straight away suspected that it was Yaakov, "surely, it is the voice of Yaakov." He felt him on his neck, actually moving the goat skin aside, to feel his real neck, to check if there was hair there, and thereby to know if it was Esav or not.  In fact, he did find hair, and therefore blessed him accordingly. Then, when Esav came in, he understood that it had really been Yaakov that he had blessed. So it must be that Yaakov really did have hair at the time that he felt him. And this was the reason that he trembled, for how can Yaakov have hair? Hair is a sign of gevurot, and Yaakov had already canceled all his gevurot completely, and did not have any hair whatsoever, as he said himself  "and I am a smooth man" (Bereishis 27:11). The fact is, however, that Hashem performed a miracle for him, and he grew one hair, which is the one that Yitzchak found, and it was this miracle that made him tremble.
      During the time that Chizkia was king over Israel, the general Sancheriv came to conquer the land. After destroying every town in the country he finally arrived at Jerusalem. His astrologers had informed him that in order to take Jerusalem, he would have to arrive there and attack on that very day, before sunset. If he failed to attack on that day, he would lose the opportunity.  He had heard many stories about the invincibility of Jerusalem, and how it could never be taken, so when he arrived there, and saw that the whole city was only a ten minute walk from one side to the other, he burst out laughing and told his generals that he was going to sleep, and that he would attack and destroy the city in the morning. But his advisers had been correct, that very night, a plague, sent by Hashem, hit his army, and its one hundred and eighty five generals and millions of men were all destroyed, and Sancheriv  had to run away and hide. The prophet Yeshayahu informed King Chizkia that it would be proper and fitting for him to sing praises to Hashem for the great miracle that had been done for them. Chizkia disagreed, he felt that it would be more suitable to learn Torah in honor of the miracle. Surely Chizkia had raised up his generation to such a high level of learning--as it says in Masechet Sanhedrin that there was not a little boy or girl who did not know all the laws of the Torah, even those of purity and impurity. This was a great mistake for Chizkia to make, for really, the singing of the praises of Hashem is on no less a level than Torah learning. However, when the time comes to sing the praises of Hashem, even Torah learning must take second place.

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