In Parshas Toldos 3 – Esav and His World, we can take the following pop quiz:
Why was Esav called Edom?
Most people will say because he was born ruddy (adom).
But Rav Miller reminds us that the parshah actually says he was called Edom because he asked for "that red red stuff," the red lentils cooked by Yaakov Avinu, and therefore: al ken kara shemo Edom.
No Emunah? No Bechorah!
Esav's grandfather, Avraham Avinu, had just passed on, and this shook Esav, even though he'd been raised in a home that not only believed in Olam Haba & the eternity of the soul, but lived every moment & every act according to this belief.
In contrast, Yaakov Avinu's emunah never wavered for a moment.
So when he saw Esav in this state, he realized that Esav really wasn't fit for the birthright. People could not say in Shemoneh Esrei: Elokai Avraham, Elokai Yitzchak, v'Elokai Esav.
And that's when he asked Esav to sell him his birthright.
Not only was this an insightful request, it was also meant as tactful mussar for Esav.
And that was it for Esav and his descendants.
As Rav Miller sums up on page 8:
They are the Red Lentil people. It’s an eternal reminder that Eisav lost his opportunity for greatness because he forgot what this world is for.
Instead of being a name of honor – the admoni, one who was born for greatness – he became Edom, the one who traded his opportunity for greatness for a bowl of red lentils.
And that’s the eternal label attached to Eisav.
He’s the one who forgot his purpose of life because he weakened for a moment and he traded everything away for a bowl of red lentils.
The Real Deal of the Century – of YOUR Century
We "sell" Him our Olam Hazeh, and in return, He gives us Olam Haba.
It's very difficult nowadays because Olam Hazeh is way too alluring.
It's stressful with tremendous opportunities for escapism – one of the deadliest combinations for a person's neshamah.
If it was stressful, but with no escape, so you would just tough it out like how they did in the olden days. You would face your challenges, and even rise to them. (And some people still do. Or at least, they try to.)
- You can just drug yourself into contentment (legally!).
- You also have so many ways to cultivate addictions.
- Gamblers needn't actually go to a casino anymore.
- You no longer need a TV or to cruise over to the nearest movie theater for those brainwave changes.
- Ranting, soap-boxing, lashon hara, and other unhealthy outlets can all be performed from home, either anonymously or using your real name (or an easily discovered moniker). You no longer need to suffer the obstacle of others stopping or avoiding you as you do when you start up face-to-face.
- And while you can't guzzle, snort, or smoke your keyboard, lots of unsavory & addictive stuff can be ordered from the privacy of your home (which actually isn't so private because your credit card has tons of information about you).
Anything you do to face Olam Hazeh head-on & minimize it is REALLY REALLY GOOD.
You are one in a million.
And mitzvah goreret mitzvah – one good deed often leads to another in its wake.
Once you get used to being a better person, you're more likely to become an even better person.
Even with the spiritual descents, your overall movement can still be upward.
Don't Drag Over a Cushy Sofa with a Built-In Cupholder to Wait at the Bus Stop
Yes, we need a certain amount to help us function normally, but on the other hand, as Rav Miller puts it, you don't take a sofa with you to wait for the bus or the train.
It's not worth it.
This reminds me of the first international flights, which were decked out like suites for first-class passengers on ships – which took weeks to cross the ocean, rather than mere hours.
First-class travelers can still utilize cozy bed-cubicles for international flights, but airlines quickly realized that the super-spacious luxury suites common long voyages weren't financially or practically worthwhile for such a short period of travel.
What Avraham Avinu's passing should have meant to Esav was MORE attachment to Olam Haba and ruchniut, not less attachment.
On page 14-15, Rav Miller's mentions one of his 10 Steps to Greatness:
- Think about Olam Haba for 30 seconds every day .
Lessons from an Old-Age Home
The gradual decay of Olam Hazeh didn't bother him nearly as much as it did his fellow inmates who'd lived for Olam Hazeh.
It reminded me of one of Tzirel Rus Berger's turning points in The Mountain Family.
She used to talk to people in an old-age home.
One used to be a beauty queen and always talked about how beautiful she'd been.
Although Tzirel Rus could see traces of that former beauty on her face, this 70-something woman was certainly far from the beauty she'd been and therefore, could only live in the past of what was & never will be again. (Also, looks are so not important.)
Another man kept talking about all the things he'd do when he'd "leave this place."
Looking at his physical condition and his age, Tzirel Rus realized that there was no way he would ever be able to leave. He lived in an imaginary future, in his dreams.
And so on.
The only person who seemed happy was a woman who'd raised a very large family and enjoyed a constant stream of adult children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
The family didn't have much money, Tzirel Rus noted, but they had love, friendship, and happiness.
People who invest in Olam Haba are happier people and remain even happier long after they pass from This World.
May Hashem help all of us to live for Olam Haba.