1. Today is the Shabbos between the 10th and 19th of Kislev, and as such, it forms a bond and brings mutual benefit to these two auspicious days.

Having created Shabbos in a sequence of preceding days and subsequent days, the Creator indicated that Shabbos has a connection to the days leading up to it and the days which follow it. As G‑d intended all aspects of creation to be both benefactor and beneficiary, to give and to receive, the day of Shabbos, most certainly, also relates to its enveloping days as both giver and receiver.

This thought needs further elaboration, and since we are discussing the day of Shabbos, the explanation must be made evident and clear on a very elementary level so that even a simple person will be able to comprehend it. For Shabbos has a noticeable influence and a real effect, in a universal sense, and more specifically, in an individual sense. So much so, our sages teach, that even one who on a weekday may not be trusted about the laws of tithes because of his lack of sincerity, on the day of Shabbos, halachah rules that his word will be accepted. The holiness of Shabbos causes him to speak only the truth.

Let us analyze the relationship of Shabbos to the three preceding days, both in the role of giver and that of receiver.

The Torah tells us: “Heaven and earth and all their hosts were [thus] completed,” which means that Shabbos effected the quality of completion in all aspects of the six days of creation. The word “Vayechulu,” used here, has two connotations: 1) “consummation” — rising to, and reaching its absolute conclusion and fulfillment, and, 2) “pleasure” — for Shabbos was called “delight,” as it was bestowed on the world from above. Both aspects work retroactively, causing completion and pleasure in the preceding six days. As Rashi comments in the name of the Sages of the Talmud: “What did the world lack? Rest. Shabbos came and brought rest.” This “rest” retrospectively corrected what the six previous days lacked; this is what Shabbos gives to them.

What does Shabbos receive from the days before it? The Talmud relates: “He who took trouble [to prepare] on the eve of Shabbos can eat on Shabbos,” so that eating on Shabbos and the pleasure derived from it, depend on the preparation of food and drink done before the Shabbos. Shabbos gives perfection to, and receives pleasure from the preceding days.

Now let us find the relationship of Shabbos to the following days, again in both ways of giver and receiver.

What does Shabbos give to the ensuing days? Blessing. As the Zohar states: “From it, all the [following] days are blessed.” And what does Shabbos receive from the subsequent days? Recognition and verification, for when the blessing is actually revealed during the following week this confirms Shabbos as that source of holy blessing and verifies its importance and greatness. Even a simple, ignorant person understands that when he receives a blessing, in a real and actual manner from someone, then he must recognize and confirm the greatness of his benefactor.

This multifaceted relationship of Shabbos to the foregoing and subsequent days of the week indicates to us, that although some unique aspect may apply to the days of one week, and another theme may apply to the next week, still the intervening Shabbos can be connected to both weeks.

We see this in the case of Shabbos Mevorchim, when the Shabbos interconnects two different months, or in the case of a Shabbos which follows a holiday and leads into a week of no special days. It would appear that such a Shabbos should need some additional, or special, spiritual concentration and exertion, for in that one day of Shabbos one must deal with two diverse aspects in service of G‑d. However, despite the fact that we are no doubt given the special powers to actually deal with such a situation, yet it is also evident that there is a greater quality, that of combining, equalizing and finding a common denominator for both weeks.

Now when we have a Shabbos that connects two subjects which have a common theme, we should recognize the great quality in that Shabbos.

Considering the 10th and 19th of Kislev, we know that in some points they are similar, and in some ways they are dissimilar, but the main, all-embracing theme is common to both — the liberation and redemption of the Nassi of Chabad Chassidus. The substance of the liberation in both cases also applied to the spreading of the wellsprings of Torah. This commonality of theme, in effect, makes our efforts on this Shabbos easier — having to deal with one idea — which mutually reinforces and supports both. Add to this the special assistance and inspiration of Shabbos and we can expect greater results.

The well-known letter of the Baal Shem Tov, which speaks of the answer of Moshiach that his coming depended on “spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus to the outside,” indicates for us the special significance of the Shabbos which falls between the two days of the 10th and 19th of Kislev, which are both associated with the spreading of the wellsprings. Whereas, normally, as we have explained above, the influence of Shabbos pervades the previous week and the following week, when we speak of days that cause Moshiach to come, then that Shabbos will have a lasting influence until, and including, even the days of Moshiach. Also retrospectively, the Shabbos will bring fulfillment to all days, back to the beginning of time. On the verse: “The spirit of G‑d hovered over the surface of the waters,” the Mid-rash says: “this alludes to the spirit of Moshiach,” only then it was only in a transcendental way, and our activity will bring Moshiach in a revealed way. In a sense, any activity which brings Moshiach closer, brings fulfillment to the beginning of creation also. Thus, through the free will of the Jew, who chooses to use the Shabbos day in the advancement and furtherance of the goals of creation, just as he chooses to bring real pleasure into the day itself, all of history is affected. As we say at the conclusion of the Haftorah read this morning from Ovadyah: “Deliverers will go up to Mount Zion to judge the mount of Esav, and kingship will be the L‑rd’s.”

This, however, can be puzzling to the average person. “Can it really be that my action will improve and add to the work of the Mitteler Rebbe and the Alter Rebbe in spreading the wellsprings?!” Can it really have a positive impact and “raise to a higher level of sanctity” all aspects of the two days of liberation?!

The answer of course is that G‑d only asks us to achieve relative to our ability. “I do not ask ... but in accordance with their means,” for which we have certainly been given the power and potential. Here we find that the simple Jew is quicker to accept it than the intellectual, who must agonize through all the stages of intellect and attributes, thought and action, cause and effect. By the time he reaches his conclusion, Shabbos is over! The simple Jew however needs no meditation, rather he moves directly into the realm of action, “which is of the essence.” So when the common, straightforward person, who often does not understand the depths of reason, hears that he can advance the work of the Alter Rebbe even though he does not understand why, he becomes excited and enthusiastic, for he can give satisfaction to the Alter Rebbe and Mitteler Rebbe, and satisfaction to G‑d, “who spoke and His will was done.”

Hopefully these words will be transmitted to others, and they should be “words which emanate from the heart,” to influence them. Then in addition to personally spreading the wellsprings they will also influence others to do the same. May G‑d grant, that through increasing this effort, we will merit very soon the coming of the righteous Moshiach and the fulfillment of the prophecy of this week’s Haftorah: “Deliverers will go up to Mount Zion to judge the mount of Esav; and kingship will be the L‑rd’s.”

2. Earlier we spoke of the qualities of the Shabbos that falls between the 10th of Kislev and the 19th of Kislev and how it influences both days. There is, additionally, a didactic significance in the specific determination of the days of the week, of the 10th and 19th of Kislev, of this year.

This year the 10th of Kislev occurs on Tuesday, which indicates a connection with the verse: “He has redeemed my soul in peace,” of Psalms, 55, which is read on Tuesdays. This would be similar to the case of the Alter Rebbe, who wrote, “... when I read the verse ‘He has redeemed my soul in peace,’ even before I started the next verse, I was free, with peace, from the G‑d of peace.”

The Alter Rebbe’s recitation of that verse at that time was determined by the fact that it was Tuesday, and the section of Psalms to be recited on Tuesdays includes chapter 55.

The Mitteler Rebbe’s liberation took place on the 10th of Kislev which is also connected to Psalm 55, according to the division of Psalms for the days of the month.

This fundamental association of Psalms, as the basic book of supplication and prayer for salvation, and thereby the harbinger of redemption, is elementary and clearly understood by the ordinary, as well as the scholarly, Jew. So when the 10th of Kislev occurs on Tuesday, both Psalmodic aspects of “Redeemed in peace” fuse the 10th day of the month with the third day of the week. This aspect then reaches a heightened state on the following Shabbos and, consequently, generates blessing to the following weekdays, including also the 19th of Kislev, which comes on the following Thursday. Thereby the quality of the 10th of Kislev, which occurs on Tuesday this year, will also be drawn into the 19th of Kislev, which will also be associated with Tuesday, even in this year. Thus, this Shabbos fabricates a relationship between the 10th and 19th of Kislev, also as they stand in relation to the third day of the week.

This fusion must also be applied to the Divine service of every individual. Why does the verse say, “Redeemed in peace”? Why not “Redeemed and with peace”? Because really this is a case of only one act, “peaceful redemption,” not that there was redemption and that there was also peace.

Although some Chassidic discourses do explain the verse as two distinct accomplishments, it is most often understood, that when King Dovid said this verse regarding his war with Avshalom he was not praying for victory as such. The ultimate victory over Avshalom, was a foregone conclusion; he knew that he would be successful in the war, rather, he was interested to see it happen in a peaceful way. As the verse continues: “For the many were with me,” that even the cohorts of Avshalom prayed for the victory of Dovid.

Now let us apply this in the case of the future redemption for all of Israel.

When Jews pray for redemption it is self-evident that as we fulfill the mitzvah of asking G‑d for our needs, G‑d must answer our request. Especially when we phrase our prayers in blessings, we may not use His name unless we are guaranteed that it is not said in vain. Therefore, when we say the blessing, “Redeemer of Israel” — we expect to be redeemed immediately. The only question — or doubt — that we may have is, will it be in a manner of “peace,” or by battle? To paraphrase the Talmud: Will it be with the “passing of time,” because we are not worthy, which is the manner of battle, or, on the other hand will it be when we are worthy? Then it will be “quickened,” this being “in peace.”

In a person’s individual service to G‑d there are also two paths: Prayer and Torah study. The path of prayer represents battle, as Ya’akov said: II ... which I took from the Amorite with my sword and bow,” and as the Targum translates: “with prayer and supplication.” The Zohar also says: “Time of prayer — time of battle.” Torah study, on the other hand, is a peaceful manner, as the Rambam states at the end of Laws of Chanukah: “...the Torah was given to bring peace upon the world, as it is said: ‘Its ways are pleasant ways, and all its paths are peace.’“

What is the distinction between these two paths of worship of G‑d?

When we engage in battle we give credence to the enemy, the existence of evil. We must fight it and nullify it, this being the service of, “turn away from evil.”

On the other path — of peace — one does not have to do battle with the evil. As the Midrash tells us, that King Chizkiah would say, “I sleep upon my bed” and the victory came. If you will ask that it says: “Man is born to toil,” which indicates battle, we will answer: that refers to toiling in the fulfillment of positive commandments. The negative will automatically fall by the way and will be nullified by doing more good!

This manner of worship, which is the path of Torah and needs no battle, is the fire of Torah: “My words are like fire,” which matter-of-factly burns up the evil. Yet, here too, we look for redemption, to be freed of the previous level and rise to a higher level; this is “redeemed in peace.”

It is generally understood and expounded in Chassidic doctrine that our being in exile is bound to the service of refining and purifying the 288 sparks, and when this process will be completed then Moshiach will come.

If so, why do we say that the advent of Moshiach depends on spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus? What relationship is there between the lost sparks of holiness and spreading the wellsprings of the essence of Torah?

But the truth is that the two go hand in hand. Purifying the lost sparks of holiness is the “battle” approach. You must go out and engage the forces of evil and the curtains of darkness in order to remove them and nullify them, thereby refining and raising the “lost sparks” to their proper level of holiness. This is time-consuming, tedious and difficult.

The easier and faster approach is to spread the wellsprings of Torah, in a peaceful manner, to the distant “outside.” For when the fountains of the esoteric inner essence of Torah spread out, they flood, and automatically wash away all manner of interference, evil and darkness. Automatically the “sparks” rise to their former level of holiness.

The Shabbos between the 10th and 19th of Kislev emphasizes for us that the best way is the way of “redeemed in peace.”

This explanation of peaceful service of G‑d constitutes one of the reasons for the recent strong involvement in urging everyone to establish set times for Jews to study Torah, no matter what their level of practical observance.

You can approach the Divine service in a manner of trying to destroy those aspects which hide and pollute the essence of the Jew, which is the system of climbing from the lower to the higher, or, you can increase and spread Torah, “whose ways are pleasant,” and whose paths are peaceful, and, even more so, you can spread the teachings of Chassidus where the concept of argument does not apply. Then automatically you will nullify the darkness and the shades, and you will reveal the true and essential nature of every Jew. As the Rambam states: “He wants to be reckoned among Jews and wants to do all the mitzvos and refrain from sins.” This will automatically also affect his further observance of Torah and mitzvos.

But we are in a sorrowful state! Because although we speak about a specific topic, time and again, it is heard and then it is forgotten. In actuality there in no movement!

Why? It might be understood by comparing the different terminology used to describe a cooling apparatus (refrigerator) in Hebrew and in several other languages. In Hebrew the word for refrigerator is “mekarer” connected to the root word “korcho.” A Jew’s service of G‑d must be infused with enthusiasm and warmth, but sometimes the yetzer hora causes a cooling off; even if it has only a minor effect, it is a cooling just the same. In English we call a refrigerator a “frigidaire,” the root of which is “frigid” which means “gelled” or “unmoving”; where there should really be movement and life, all is still. And in Russian, the language of the country where the Alter Rebbe and Mitteler Rebbe, and also the previous Rebbe were imprisoned, a refrigerator is called a “li’ednik” coming from the root “Wed,” or “ice.” Water should flow and here it is frozen solid, not only standing, but stubbornly immutable.

To our case. There are those who sit at a farbrengen and hear these words, but when it comes to action they automatically freeze and become a piece of ice! But we are speaking of a human being who has the quality of thought and the quality of speech, which should help him to “warm up” and bring him to action, yet, when he hears the words about this topic he exercises his free will to freeze. Not just to cool down in a relative sense, not just to remain stable, but to become a solid immutable block of ice!!

There is of course a holy aspect of ice as expressed in the vision of Yechezkel: “... the semblance of the expanse above the head of the Chayos, it resembled ‘awesome ice.’“ Higher than the Holy Chayos of the supernal chariot, it constitutes and represents the consummate self-annihilation. True, there is no longer any movement, but that is because there his existence has been sublimated. On this supernal level there is no distinction between the different manifestations of the will of G‑d, and it includes a certain firmness and staunchness.

In esoteric terms, from this “ice of holiness,” there descended, through myriad degradations, simple “ice” and even also the ice of communist Russia. The purpose of the descent — esoterically — is to convert this back to the state of holiness.

Chassidus interprets, in this week’s portion, that Ya’akov thought and hoped that Esav had changed, but the messengers came back and said, “Esav is a ‘li’ednik,”‘ (a piece of ice) who has also influenced others, “four hundred men with him.”

Why speak like this again, having repeated it so many times before, openly and by hints and it did not help? But it cannot be held back any more.

Hopefully at least, from now on, the attitude will improve and everyone will take a genuine interest and convert the ice of non-action to holiness. As we say in the Haftorah: “... and the Redeemer will arise.” This will bring us to “Ya’akov dwelt,” that he wanted to dwell peacefully, it will come true when the prophecy of Yeshayah will be fulfilled. “In ease and rest you will be saved.” At the complete and true redemption, through the righteous Moshiach, may he come and redeem us and lead us, upright, to our land, speedily and actually in our days.


3. We now have the opportunity to complete the explanation of a glaring paradox discussed at previous farbrengens: How can one verse in Torah bear two opposite interpretations? In the farbrengen of the 10th of Kislev the query was raised on the verse: “I have seen the Divine, face to face,” of how we reconcile the Chassidic interpretation, that this represents a Jew’s spiritual service to G‑d in a manner of “face to face,” with the usual translation relating it to the guardian angel of Esav.

This same enigma would also face us in the case mentioned above, of ice. We had the “awesome ice” of holiness and the “frigid ice” of evil.

This duality of contradictory definitions is a mystery which surfaces in other areas as well. As was noted in a previous farbrengen, on the verse: “Many waters cannot extinguish the love,” there are two discourses in Torah Or which ascribe two opposite interpretations. In Torah Or on Noach the many waters” are taken to mean the burdens of earning a livelihood and the disturbing thoughts of worldly matters; the explanation being that these problems cannot squelch the hidden, innate love, which naturally dwells in the soul of every Jew. It will constantly yearn and long to rise and to cleave to that which is above. Then in the discourse of Toldos, the explanation is propounded that the “many waters” refer to the meditation on the greatness of G‑d, which engenders an all encompassing love of the heart, causing intense and infinite longing and thirst, “with all your might.” This love-thirst cannot be satisfied by intellectual contemplation alone and must be slaked only through intense involvement in Torah and mitzvos. Truly perplexing!

Let us first turn our attention to this week’s portion and attempt to elucidate a paradox in it. “Esav ran to meet him. He hugged [Ya’akov] and, throwing himself on his shoulders, kissed him.” In this case we also find two contradictory interpretations, as presented by Rashi, who states: “Dots are placed above the letters of this word, and a difference of opinion is expressed in the Braisa of Sifri. Some explain the dotting as meaning that he did not kiss him with his whole heart, whereas Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai [Rashbi] said: ‘It is a halachah, and it is well-known, that Esav hated Ya’akov, but at that moment his pity was really aroused and he kissed him with his whole heart.’“

Now, although the explanation presented by Rashbi appears in Rashi as the second commentary, it should be given preference because we are now between the 10th and 19th of Kislev, connecting us to the esoteric teachings of Torah as based on the Zohar. Sometimes Rashi first brings the commentary which he prefers and sometimes both are equal, as in this case. So we will consider the Rashbi’s explanation first, that he kissed Ya’akov with all his heart. But it is still perplexing, because in the words of Rashbi we first find: “It is known that Esav hated Ya’akov,” and then he says “... and he kissed him with his whole heart.” It becomes even more puzzling when we look closely at the terminology which Rashbi uses: “It is a halachah”! And still he kissed him! Why introduce so strong a term, would it not have sufficed to say, “It is known”?

To reach a solution we must understand an adage of Pirkei Avos: “...whoever fulfills the Torah in poverty, will ultimately fulfill it in wealth.” Why only in poverty — what if he fulfilled it while he was middle class? And since when does the small child, who starts to learn Torah, and learns Pirkei Avos, know about wealth and poverty? His parents support him! We must therefore understand the Mishnaic adage proverbially, that in order to reach the rich and broad expanse of Torah study to the point of the infinite, it must initially be prefaced with a state of “poverty,” i.e., toil and exertion. Only then can one reach the luxury level of Torah wealth — affluence in Torah.

In other words: Even a scholar who is bright and intelligent, and is also careful to eat only those foods which will not hamper his mind and mental processes, might assume that he can succeed in Torah study without special effort. Therefore the Mishnah admonishes, that to reach a state of richness of Torah study, there must first be the condition of poverty, to toil and labor in Torah.

According to this we can also explain the dictum of our sages: “... and all [the entire Oral Torah] are taught according to the view of R. Akiva.” When R. Akiva started learning Torah at the age of 40, he was completely ignorant, so much so that he later said: “When I was an ‘am Ha’aretz (unlearned person),’ I said: I would that I had a scholar [before me] and I would maul him....” What motivated him to get involved in Torah? In Avos D’Rabbi Nosson it is related: “On one occasion he was standing by the mouth of a well, he inquired, ‘Who carved out this stone?’ They answered, ‘The water which constantly falls on it, day by day.’ They continued, ‘Akiva, have you not read the verse: The waters wear the stones?’ Forthwith R. Akiva applied to himself the following a fortiori argument: If the soft [water] can wear away the hard [stone], how much more can the words of Torah, which are hard like iron, carve a way into my heart, which is of flesh and blood? Immediately he turned to the study of Torah. He applied himself to study with great toil and exertion, even though he was poor.” Actually, in R. Akiva’s life there were several aspects of poverty and degradation. He was an ignoramus of the lowest sort at age 40, he was motivated by a stone, and he studied Torah in poverty. By virtue of all these reasons he merited to reach the ultimate apex of Torah study in the richest way. The Talmud relates that R. Akiva became wealthy from “six” sources. The Kabbalists explain, that really this was from his intense greatness in Torah, which is esoterically connected to the letter “vov” of the Tetragrammaton, while the latter letter “hay” refers to mitzvos. That is why the entire Oral Torah is according to R. Akiva for all generations. The point is, that specifically by descending to the nethermost nadir, can one aspire and reach the ultimate heights. In this light we can unravel the earlier mentioned paradoxes.

On the verse: “... and he kissed him ...” we questioned how could he kiss him “with his whole heart” if “... it is a halachah ... that Esav hated Ya’akov.”

The truth is that when we are in a situation where Esav really hates Ya’akov, and nevertheless Ya’akov the Jew is involved in Torah and mitzvos with great enthusiasm, not being influenced by any obstacles or roadblocks in his way, then, not only will he succeed in his Divine, spiritual service, but also, he will effect a thorough and basic refinement in Esav; Esav who will be transformed to goodness, and will come to kiss Ya’akov with his whole heart! A true coming together of spirit.

Similarly in the case of the contradictory meanings of “many waters”: By virtue of his sincere Divine service, with complete disregard for the “many waters,” the problems and tribulations of earning a livelihood and worried thoughts of worldly difficulties, he will attain the “many waters of holiness.” He will ascend to the level of great love, “with all your might,” which will only be satisfied by intense Torah study and observance of mitzvos.

So too, when one is in a lowest state of frigid “ice,” he must overturn his condition and rise to the apex of holy “ice” — the “awesome ice” which is even above the “Holy Chayos.”

Ya’akov’s statement: “I have seen the Divine, face to face,” will also be understood in the same construct. Struggling with the guardian angel of Esav brought a sense of refinement to the wicked forces of Esav, Ya’akov could then surge upward and see “... the Divine, face to face.”

In our personal, Divine service the following teaching may be derived. When a Jew hears that he must be involved in spreading the wellsprings to the outside, he might ask, “If I am involved in worldly matters, the ‘many waters,’ how can I be certain that my own position will be stable and then also be able to improve the outside?”

Although he prepares himself properly: davening, Torah study, mivtzoyim, etc., and his involvement in worldly matters never reaches the “evil waters,” still, he is apprehensive. For if he must study the ways of the marketplace and must deal honestly, how can he be successful in spreading the wellsprings?

But the answer is, when his intention is to convert the “many waters” of the marketplace into the “waters” of holiness and reach the “great love” of “all his might,” there is no need to worry. He must just increase his activity in spreading the wellsprings — especially the teachings of Chassidus — and he will reach even further “outside,” in a rich and comfortable way. Similarly the Mitteler Rebbe toiled to reach every Jew with his Chassidic teachings, even those who were poor, spiritually and materially.

By not being influenced by the shroud of the world he can refine and purify the darkness of the world and reach the highest level.

When it says: “Deliverers will go up to Mount Zion to judge the mount of Esav,” why does it say to “judge” and not to “destroy”? It says so because the goal is to judge, refine and convert it to holiness. Therefore it also says “will go up.”

By zealously increasing this work we will speed the fulfillment of the promise: “Deliverers will ... and Kingship will be the L‑rd’s.” With the true and complete redemption, through our righteous Moshiach — “quickened” — and actually in our days.

* * *

4. Our Torah portion today presents us with a subject needing elucidation according to the fundamental reading of the verse.

At the beginning of Vayishlach we find: “And he lodged there that same night, and took of that which came to his hand, a present for Esav his brother.” The words, “that same night” are surely redundant, because the word “vayolen,” which means “lodged,” always means to stay over a night. We find this to be the case in several places where the word “lina” is used. It always means staying over a night, as when Lot told the angels, “... stay overnight, and wash your feet ... we will abide overnight in the street.” Also when Eliezer spoke to Rivkah he said,” ... is there room ... for us to lodge in [over night]?” Thus, since the Torah here uses the word “vayolen” — “and he lodged,” it is obviously referring to an overnight stay. Why add the words “that same night”?

The question is multiplied and magnified when we look ahead and find the words, “that same night” used again and again without apparent reason. In verse 22, the Torah says: “So the present went over before him; and he himself lodged that night in the camp.” In verse 23: “And he rose up that night and took his two wives....” In both cases the words “that night” are redundant. The greatest wonder is that Rashi makes no mention of this enigma.

On many occasions Rashi’s principle of explaining the simple, fundamental meaning of the Torah has been explained and discussed. Rashi adds nothing to the simple meaning, but Rashi also does not skip any comment that would, or could, be needed to clarify the elementary meaning. So much so, that sometimes Rashi says “I do not know,” when he cannot explain a problem within the limitations of simple commentary. Therefore, when Rashi does not comment, we must be able to understand the correct meaning either from the direct language of the text, or because Rashi has already answered this problem in a previous verse.

Here, too, if our problem cannot be understood from the simple text, we must assume that a previous commentary of Rashi will help elucidate these questions.

An illustration of this Rashi principle may be seen in a commentary of Rashi on the portion of Toldos. There in the verse: “Esav became a skilled trapper ...,” Rashi comments, “To trap and deceive his father with his mouth, by asking him, ‘Father, how does one tithe straw and salt?’ His father thought that he was strict in the observance of mitzvos.” This presents a glaring inconsistency. To wit, if normally salt and straw were not tithed, did Esav think that by showing his utter ignorance he would impress his father?

But in truth in a previous Rashi we can find the basis for an explanation of this case. In the portion Lech Lecha, on the verse: “Malki-Tzedek king of Shalem ... He was a Kohen ... He gave him a tithe of everything,” Rashi explains: “He — Avraham — gave him a tithe of everything he had, because he was a Kohen.” Which means, Avraham gave Malki-Tzedek a tenth of everything — including straw and salt! Now Avraham taught his children and his household to follow his ways and so certainly, Yitzchok also gave a tithe of everything, even straw and salt. For this reason Esav tried to impress his father by asking how to tithe straw and salt.

From this we see that when we have some basic, fundamental question in the understanding of a sentence, Rashi relies on an earlier Rashi commentary to clear it up expecting us to refer to that previous sentence to find the answer.

Here too, with our question about “that night” we can assume that this must be the case.

We may answer our questions on the redundancy of “that night” and also our questions on Rashi in the following manner: In the portion of Vayeitze, on the verse: “... and he slept with her that night,” [Ya’akov and Leah], Rashi comments: “The Holy One, Blessed be He, aided him, and Yissachar was born.” The previous verse had been referring to “that night,” and therefore in this verse the words are redundant, so Rashi learns that there is an additional meaning in these words, which tell us that that night was special and brought about the birth of Yissachar.

The uniqueness of that night was expressed in Leah’s words: “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes,” which have two meanings: 1) As Rashi explains: “She eagerly desired and sought means to increase the number of the tribes” and, 2) She had given Rochel her son’s mandrakes. In other words, the Torah must add the words “that night” to tell us that there was something special about that night which effected special results.

Let us now apply this idea in our case, (after first explaining some points). The theme of this chapter is that Ya’akov prepared himself for three different things: a gift, prayer and war. Not only are these different, but they also have opposite aspects, especially in the emotional and mental state or attitudes.

War and gift are opposites with opposite goals, one is to battle the opponent; the other is to appease him. Prayer has no relationship to either, being a supplication to G‑d that salvation should come from Him (above).

We find examples where one or the other was used. For example, when Avraham fought the four kings, he followed the path of war, without gifts of appeasement or a preface of prayer; certainly this was because he knew that what he was doing was right and he was sure of G‑d’s assistance.

On the other hand, in the case of Avimelech, Avraham sent him sheep and cattle to appease him and make a covenant, to make sure that his servants would not steal the wells. Again there was no need for prayer because it was obvious that through this act the result would be achieved.

In our case however, we find all the aspects together. Evidently it seems there were times when all three were needed.

There still remains some points needing clarification. In nature these three aspects cannot coexist in a single mental framework. Ya’akov fervently prayed to G‑d and begged for His salvation: “0 G‑d of my father Avraham ... You once said: ‘I will make things go well with you....’“ Now in this state of mind Ya’akov had nothing to fear of Esav coming to hurt him. Instead, it would seem logical that later, when the feelings of the prayer-state wore off, he could then apply himself to the other aspects of war or gift. Although this seems to be logical, yet it does not seem to be proper — can it really be that when he was involved in preparing for war, or preparing to send the gift he no longer stood in a state of prayer to G‑d.

The answer and explanation lies in the words “that night.” In the sequence of events described in the Torah, after relating to us Ya’akov’s prayer to G‑d, the Torah says that Ya’akov put together “that night” the gift he would send to Esav. Which means that the special feeling of that night, which had been developed during his state of prayer to G‑d stayed with him; specifically in that state of mind, he prepared the gift. Later when it says that he took his wives, it again mentions “that night” to emphasize again that all the actions of that night were specifically permeated with the spirit and feeling of his prayer. Not just the time but also the atmosphere and attitude. The preparation for war and gift were both within the mental state of prayer — because it was the will of G‑d that in addition to prayer there should also be an effort and action in the natural course of events on Ya’akov’s part. Ya’akov was able to retain the fervor and spirituality of the prayer state even later when he was involved in war preparation and in sending the gift of appeasement.