Use It or Lose It by Benjy Lebowitz


Chazal derive from a Pasuk in Parshat Toldot that Avraham observed the entire Torah even before it was given. The Torah says (Bereishit 26:5), “Because Avraham hearkened to My voice, and obeyed My safeguards, My commandments, My decrees, and My Torahs.

If this is so, how could Avraham acquire Maarat HaMachpeilah for only 400 shekels (considering that Adam and Chavah were buried there)? Similarly, how could Yaakov purchase the firstborn rights for only bread and lentil stew? After all, both of the Avot knew the true value of their respective purchases. It seems that these transactions violate (Vayikra 25:14) “Al Tonu,” the commandment not to engage in deceiving business practices.

The Torah tells us (Bereishit 25:34) that Eisav spurned the birthright. Therefore, the bread and stew were appropriate payment. Also, the Zohar in Parshat Chayei Sarah informs us that Efron “looked into Maarat HaMachpeilah and saw only darkness. However, when Avraham looked in, he saw light.” Thus, Efron received an exceedingly fair price for his darkness, at the same time as Avraham was purchasing his entrance to Gan Eden.

If one respects a concept, it will stand with him and enhance him. However, if he doesn’t show respect toward it, it will abandon him. Eisav mocked the birthright, so it was then taken from him. Yaakov, who highly respected the birthright, acquired it.

We encounter this concept in the Gemara (Berachot 62b). The Gemara records that David showed disrespect for clothing (he cut off the corner of Shaul’s garment). Therefore, when David was old and covered himself with garments, they could not warm him.

In a few weeks, we will be celebrating Chanukah. In his commentary to the Shulchan Aruch, the Bach (O.C. 670) writes that at the time of the 2nd Beit HaMikdash, the Jews were laidback in their temple service. Because of this, they almost lost it, and were forced to fight back for it. Once they showed that they were willing to give up their lives for the Beit HaMikdash, they were worthy of repossessing it.

The Torah communicates this to us in the succinct phrase, “VaYivez Eisav Et HaBechorah,” and Eisav spurned the birthright. Since Eisav disrespected it, Yaakov had an opportunity to value the birthright, and he did so. Therefore, Hashem ensures that the blessings of the birthright continue to be showered upon Yaakov.

-Adapted from a Devar Torah by Rabbi Benjamin Yudin

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