Each year. the International Convention of Lubavitch Shluchim is held on or near the Shabbos of this Torah reading. Over 1500 representatives posted throughout the world meet at Lubavitch World Headquarters in Crown Heights.

There are always some humorous moments, like the Rabbi who told how he answered a person who protested, “Rabbi, I have a strong sense of my Jewishness, but I am really not drawn to organized religion.”

“In that case,” shot back the Rabbi, “this is just the place for you! Ask anyone; I am the most disorganized person you’ll ever meet.”

But over all, one can’t help but come away with tremendous respect for their commitment. One of the shluchim who does outreach work at a major university related that one night, at 1:00 a.m. to be exact, he called a certain student to invite him for Shabbos. To his dismay, he realized too late that he had accidentally dialed the student’s home number rather than his dorm as he had intended.

He apologized profusely.

“Please don’t worry about it,” the parents assured him. “But we would like to know why you tried to call our son in the middle of the night. Don’t rabbis have hours?”

“In my job,” the Rabbi explained, “we do what is most effective. Students are difficult to contact throughout the day, so I have no choice but to call them at this hour. It’s the best time to reach them.”

It paid off for the Rabbi also. The parents later shared this incident with an acquaintance. He was so impressed with the Rabbi’s dedication that he contacted him and expressed his desire to support his work.

Parshas Toldos

This week’s Torah reading begins: “These are the offspring of Isaac,” referring to Jacob and Esau whose birth and early history is described later in the Torah reading. The narrative touches on an issue which many of us have to face. Isaac was a completely righteous man. Early in his life, he was prepared to be offered as a sacrifice to G‑d on Mt. Moriah and even afterwards, when a ram was offered in his place, he was still considered holy, like a sacrifice. For that reason, unlike the other Patriarchs, G‑d did not let him leave Israel. He was holy and had to live in a holy land.

One of his sons, Jacob, emulated his holiness. He was “a dweller of tents,” choosing to frequent the prominent houses of study of the age. But his other son, Esau, was a hunter, a man of violence and passion. And yet Isaac loved Esau.

Some say Esau was able to deceive him. In Isaac’s presence, he appeared holy and then afterwards, he did what he wanted. But that makes our Patriarch look somewhat shallow. Moreover, it runs contrary to one of the basic themes of Isaac’s life work. Isaac was a digger of wells. What’s the secret of a well-digger? Not to accept what you see on the surface, but to dig deep down, to keep clearing away the dirt until he finds the water of life.

Isaac did that not only with wells, but with every experience in his life. He would probe to the depths and appreciate the inner core. Now if he did that with everything, wouldn’t he do that with his own son?

So if Esau wasn’t fooling him, why did he love him?

For precisely that reason. When digging deeply, it depends how deep you dig. If you dig past the surface, you will be able to see a person’s passions and drives — not all of that is pleasant. But if you really love a person, you won’t stop there. You’ll dig deeper until you find the essential core of G‑dliness that person has. For every person’s soul is an actual part of G‑d. In some, it shines openly. In others, it’s hidden and in certain people, it’s very hidden. Since Isaac loved Esau, he didn’t look at his less favorable dimensions; he focused on the good that was deep inside of him.

That also enables us to understand why he wanted to convey the blessings to him. Isaac was constantly struggling to motivate Esau to live up to his spiritual potential. He felt that by pouring so much positive energy into him, he could arouse the good inside and enable it to dominate his personality.

In fact, however, the blessings were given to Jacob. For the work of revealing the good in Esau could not be accomplished in a brief period of time. That indeed is the purpose of our efforts throughout the spiritual history of the world, including this final exile, referred to as the “the exile of Edom,” another name of Esau. We are striving to reveal this spiritual energy, the “sparks” invested in worldly experience which is associated with Esau.

The final consummation of these efforts will come in the Era of the Redemption, when “deliverers will go up to Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esau, and the sovereignty will be G‑d’s.” At that time, the powerful spiritual energies which Esau possesses will surface and be given appropriate expression.

Looking to the Horizon

Isaac’s name is associated with happiness, for as the Torah relates, he was given his name because “G‑d has made laughter for me.” As mentioned, Isaac’s Divine service involved penetrating to the depths of natural entities and bringing their G‑dly core to the surface. And the transformation of darkness into light that this involves brings about the highest degree of pleasure and satisfaction.

The yud which is the first letter of Isaac’s Hebrew name indicates the future tense. For it will not be until the Ultimate Future that this happiness will be manifest in a complete sense. At present, although we are aware how our Divine service refines the material realm, the fruits of those efforts are not visibly evident. In the Future, “the glory of G‑d will be revealed and all flesh will see”; the positive effects of the thousands of years of effort mankind has dedicated to the refinement of material existence will be apparent.

Isaac, through his efforts to involve himself in the material world, penetrate to its core and reveal “the waters of life,” served as the exemplar for this mode of Divine service. Hence, our Sages relate that in the Ultimate Future, our people will give primacy to Isaac, telling him: “You are our ancestor.”

Although it is in the Future when this Divine service will reach complete expression, we have the potential to experience a foretaste of that Future era at present: to look at every entity as it exists above the fluctuations of time, in its true and perfect state. This perception serves as a guiding light, inspiring and directing us in our task of refinement and hastening the coming of the age when this spiritual reality will be fully manifest in our material world with the coming of Mashiach.