The Correct Address
R Pesach Siegel
Dec 5, 2014
Parshas VaYishlach 5775
Yaakov Avenu sent messengers before him to Eisav, his brother. He commanded them to say, “My master Eisav, so says your servant Yaakov. With Lavan I dwelled and I tarried until now.”
The word for dwelled is “garti”. The word garti is spelled gimmel, raysh, tav, yud. These are the same letters as taryag, which represent the number 613.
This is the message that Yaakov Avenu sent to Eisav. I dwelled with Lavan. I kept 613 mitzvos. I did not learn from his evil ways.
There are a number of other ways that Yaakov could have conveyed to Eisav that he kept the mitzvos of the Torah.
The word garti is intentionally the one used to convey this message. What is it about this word that will ensure that Eisav gets the intended message?
What is indeed the message that Yaakov Avenu wants Eisav to receive?
Is Eisav at all concerned about the mitzvah observance of Yaakov Avenu?
Rav Eliyahu Meir Bloch commented on a similar matter.
The sages of the Bais Medrash of Eliyahu say, All who study halachos are ensured that they will be bnei olam haba, as it says, Halichos olam lo - the pathways of the world are his. Don’t read the word as if it was written halichos – pathways, rather read it as halachos – Torah laws. (Megilla 28b)
Rav Eliyahu Meir asked, “If the Torah wishes to teach us the importance of the study of halacha, why does it do it in such an indirect fashion. It uses the word halichos, which means pathways, to teach us to study halachos – Torah laws. Why not just say the word halachos in the posuk?”
The answer is that the use of the word halachos is part of the lesson. It is not sufficient to study halachos. The study of halacha must make an impact. The halachos should not just be actions performed by the individual. The halachos should define the pathways of one’s life. They should be natural. They should be integrated into the persona of the person. Thus, the words halichos and halachos bond together in a perfect synthesis.
The word "mitzvah" shares a root with the word "tzavsa." The word tzavsa means “to accompany.” The performance of mitzvos is a means to an end. The mitzvos are the manner in which a human being of flesh and blood can bond with the Creator. We do so by bonding with His will. Through mitzvah performance, we are constantly accompanied by His will.
The total performance of all the 613 mitzvos results in a complete, blemish-free bond with Creator.
One who enjoys such a bond actually lives with the Creator in a realm beyond the physical world. To such an individual, the physical world is not his place of residence. It is a temporary abode where the lowest part of the creation called man, the physical body, is given tasks and challenges. But it not one’s dwelling place.
Eisav exists in the physical world. He possesses great power within the physical world. But he cannot affect one who rises above the physical. His arrows cannot penetrate the shamayim.
Eisav was well aware of this. He knew that try as he might he cannot vanquish Yaakov as long as he and Yaakov occupy two different existential planes. Eisav thought, Yaakov Avenu was in the house of Lavan for twenty years. Surely, Yaakov Avenu “came down to earth”. Now, Yaakov is in a place where Eisav can reach him.
To dispel this misconception, Yaakov sent a message to Eisav. “Im Lavan garti” – Although I dwelled with Lavan, I didn’t dwell with Lavan. I wasn’t there. Only my physical body was there. My essence dwelled somewhere else. My essence dwelled together with the 613 mitzvos. That was my existence. That was where I was those twenty years.
Thus, the two words garti and taryag come together as one.
“Eisav, I live somewhere else. You cannot reach me. You cannot hope to defeat me.”