web analytics
April 18, 2015 / 29 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Living Like A Rock

The-Shmuz

And Yaakov lived in the lands in which his father sojourned, the land of Canaan.Bereishis 37: 1

 

Rashi tells us that after the Torah described the life of Eisav in an abbreviated manner, it then told over the events of the life of Yaakov in full detail. The reason for this is that Yaakov and what occurred to him are important in the eyes of Hashem, whereas Eisav and his life aren’t. So too, Rashi explains, we find with the ten generations from Adam to Noach. Each individual gets a mere mention until we get to the life of Noach. Then the Torah elaborates in full detail.

The same pattern is repeated with the ten generations from Noach until Avraham. We are told in condensed form – “so and so gave birth to so and so” – until we get to the life of Avraham. Then the Torah again goes into great detail because the life and activities of a tzaddik are important in the eyes of Hashem, while those a rasha aren’t.

Rashi continues with a mashal to help explain this concept. Imagine a man has lost a precious stone in the sand. He takes a sieve and begins combing through the sand to find it. The sieve picks up many small rocks along with the gem that he is searching for. Once he finds the gem, he takes it out and throws the rocks away.

This Rashi becomes difficult to understand when we focus on the purpose of a mashal. Chazal use parables to help bridge a gap. When we are dealing with concepts that are outside our frame of reference, our sages often use examples and metaphors to bring difficult ideas into terms that we can understand. For instance, if you were given the task to describe the color purple to a color-blind person, how would you portray it? Well, it isn’t blue and it’s not red. The problem is that since this person sees all colors in the grey spectrum, neither point of reference has any meaning. So you might revert to a mashal. The purpose of the mashal is to capture the essence of a distant concept and bring it closer.

Why does Rashi feel we need a mashal to understand this concept? It seems rather straightforward. Eisav wasn’t important, so the Torah told over his life quickly, whereas Yaakov and what he accomplished are significant, so the Torah went into the details. That seems like an elementary concept, not one that needs repeating or a mashal to help clarify it.

 

The Value of a Person

The answer to this question is that Rashi is explaining a concept that isn’t obvious at all – namely, the true value of a person. If you were to ask a chemist the value of a human being, he might say, “Well, let’s see…So much potassium…so much magnesium…I would estimate his value at about 60 cents.” That would be accurate in one dimension. If we were measuring the value of a human from the perspective of the chemicals that make up his body, we would find him rather inexpensive. However, from a different perspective, the human is the most precious entity on the face of the planet – something so precious that it was worthwhile to create an entire cosmos for just one person.

The difference in the value systems manifests itself in the way a person lives his life. If a person leads his life like any other occupant of this planet, as just another member of the animal kingdom, then he has the value of whatever his physical being represents – a couple of pounds of rotting meat. However, if a person recognizes the reason Hashem put us on the planet and leads the life of a great person, his value is incalculable.

 

Living Like a Rock

That is what Rashi seems to be telling us. If the Torah only mentioned Eisav quickly and then elaborated about the life of Yaakov, you would never quite understand the difference in their values. Let me give you a mashal: When a man is looking for a pearl in the sand and he picks up some rocks along with it, they are utterly, totally and completely valueless to him. He throws them back down. The Torah is using this mashal to give us the perspective of the stark difference in value. It wasn’t that Eisav wasn’t as important as Yaakov – he was valueless, something to be discarded. He was a rock. When he left this planet, that is all that was left – the body to decay into the ground.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the www.theShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Living Like A Rock”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Daniel Lubetzky  president of V15 and CEO of Kind "healthy" bars
No Victory for V15 and Not Healthy ‘Healthy’ Snack Bars
Latest Judaism Stories
Hertzberg-041715

Lincoln was not a perfect man. But he rose above his imperfections to do what he thought was right not matter the obstacles.

Arch of Titus

Adon Olam: An Erev Shabbat Musical Interlude Courtesy of David Herman

Daf-Yomi-logo

Oh My, It’s Copper!
‘…And One Who Is A Coppersmith’
(Kethubboth 77a)

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

The omer sacrifice of loose barley flour was more fitting for animal consumption than human consumption and symbolizes the depths to which the Jewish slaves had sunk.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

When Chazal call not eating treif food a chok, that refers to how it functions.

His mother called “Yoni, Yoni!” Her eyes, a moment earlier dark with pain, shone with joy and hope

Kashrut reminds us that in the end, God is the arbiter of right and wrong.

In a cab with Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach & Rav Elayshiv discussing if/when to say tefillas haderech

The successful student listens more than speaks out; wants his ideas critiqued, not just appreciated

Why would it not be sufficient to simply state lehoros from which we derive that in such a state one may not issue any psak?

What do we learn about overcoming loss from the argument between Moses and Aaron’s remaining 2 sons?

Each of the unique roles attributed to Moshe share the common theme that they require of and grant higher sanctity to the individual filling the role.

Because of the way the piece of my finger had been severed, the doctors at the hospital were not able to reattach it. They told me I’d have to see a specialist.

“The problem is that the sum total is listed is $17,000. However, when you add the sums mentioned, it is clear that the total of $17,000 is an error. Thus, Mr. Broyer owes me $18,000, not $17,000.”

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
Shmuz-logo-NEW

When Chazal call not eating treif food a chok, that refers to how it functions.

Shmuz-logo-NEW

And the farmer can’t help but feel a sense of pride. After all, it was his wisdom that led him to choose corn, not like that fool of a guy next door who planted wheat.

So what type of praise is it that Aaron followed orders?

If my garment is clean, then I will be careful about maintaining its beauty. If it is soiled, I will not be as careful.

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The avodah (service) of the kohen gadol is vital and highly sensitive; the world’s very existence depends on it.

While it may appear that man is in charge, Hashem orchestrates every activity on the planet

Hashem placed this world at man’s disposal. In a real sense, man is the steward of Creation.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/living-like-a-rock-2/2013/11/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: