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Learning from the skin of a pig filled with hot air


Many of us have heard that refrain many times. Surprisingly I think that there is a great teaching in this gallop to six points.

Yaakov is on his way to meet Eisav and he sends him the following message: עם לבן גרתי - I have lived with Lavan. Rashi notes that if you scramble the letters גרתי - you get תרי"ג and what Yaakov was saying was that he managed to keep all תרי"ג mitzvos. And Rashi adds that not only did I keep mitzvos in Lavan's home but לא למדתי ממעשיו - I didn't learn from his [evil] deeds.

I have a few questions. 1- Is Yaakov bragging? Uncharacteristic. 2 - Why should Eisav care if Yaakov kept mitzvos. Eisav wasn't of the more pious. 3 - If Yaakov said that he kept all of the mitzvos it is self-evident that he didn't learn from Lavan's deeds so why did he add that detail.

I think what happened was that Yaakov was trying to calm Eisav so that Eisav should not kill him. "Don't worry dear brother that I am coming to wage war against you and I will rely on the great merits that I have to defeat you. Because I am not so meritorious. I lived with Lavan for 20 years and even though I remained "frum" I didn't learn from Lavan the most important lesson. How to get excited about mitzvos to the same degree that he gets excited about aveiros!! לא למדתי ממעשיו הרעים - I didn't learn from his evil deeds, even though I should have. Lavan performs aveiros with such fire and enthusiasm. My mitzvos unfortunately lack the same quality. So don't worry, I am not the tzaddik that you think I am. Hence I am not coming to kill you so lets make peace".

Do we get as excited about davening -a chance to converse with G-d himself!!! - as we do about a fourth quarter touchdown?
Where are the high-fives and backslaps after we learn a daf Gemara? So if you write a check for tzedaka, maybe you should pour some champaign over your head in celebration. After all we all believe that in the bigger picture spirituality is what really matters. Much greater than winning a superbowl.

So maybe there is something to learn from football about Avodas Hashem. And from Lavan. מכל מלמדי השכלתי!!!

והאש על המזבח תוקד בו -מבעיר השפת אמת שהכוונה לכהן .האש יקדה בתוך הכהן. והלוואי שנזכה

Good Shabbos Sweetest Beloved Friends!!

[Based in part on the words of Rav Meir Shapiro zatzal of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin in pre-war Poland]

Should a person dump gatorade on himself after doing a mitzvah?

Grape Juice.

What happened to the champagne?

Easy to have more hislahavus when you are a Miami Dolphins fan.

More seriously, I actually think that this is both the meaning of Kohanim Zrizin Hen and is why you see many people who shuckle violently (not me)instead of standing in solemn davening. We can discuss whether that is positive or negative.

Rav Alley,
Shalom Aleichem!
The idea of learning from Lavan's hislavus towards aveirus to use towards our mitzvos, is very much related to something one of my masmid/tzaddik atzum friends, Dovid Moster, just today at lunch!

He said b'shem the baal shem tov as follows: eyzehu chacham? halomed mikol odom- biur: When a person is about to sin he should say to himself: wow! the yetzer harah is so unbelievable at his job. He could even get me to this point where I would go against the will of the ribono shel olom. I should learn from him and do my job of serving Hashem in the same way.

Have a great shabbos and keep them G'shmak tora's coming please.

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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