I have brought from the Lev Eliyahu-Rav Eliyahu Lopian,z’tl (Parshas Lech Lecho-last year’s dvar Torah) how important it is to work on midos-characteristic traits.
One who is used to living according to his characteristic traits and desires and does not take to his heart to work against his desires and conquer the evil inclination, then when an impulse and desire enter his heart he runs after it as an animal runs after a beautiful tree. And the waves of the ocean of his imagination are pulling him from all sides. And even if his intellect tells him that the end will be bitter, his heart won’t budge one iota from following his desire into the deepest pits of destruction.

The Lev Eliyahu , Rav Eliyahu Lopian,z’tl,in Parshas Toldos brings two cases in point that substantiate this premise.

1-We find that Yitzchok came to Gerar [in Plishtim] where he prospered greatly. Then Avimelech, King of Plishtim asked Yitzchok to leave because [as the Midrash explains] he accused Yitzchok of amassing his wealth from them. [Bereishis 26:13-16]

However, after Yitzchok left, Avimelech saw that it was just the opposite. Any success Avimelech did have was in the merit of Yitzchok. As the Targum Yonoson ben Uziel [Bereishis 26:28] explains that Avimelech went to Yitzchok and said, “I saw that …it was in your merit that we had all good, and when you left from our land the wells dried up and the trees didn’t bear fruit…” and he realized that he was punished for asking him to leave and he wanted Yitzchok to return and to make a covenant with him.

So Avimelech saw clearly that everything came to Yitzchok as a blessing from Hashem as it says verse 28 that Avimelech said “I see that Hashem is with you…” so he forgoes his honor and goes to Yitzchok.

This shows that Avimelech had reached a tremendous level of Emunah-Belief in Hashem. He realized that one who finds favor in Hashem’s eyes is blessed by Him, and one who makes trouble for this person that Hashem loves, will be cursed. And who is the one who finds favor in Hashem’s eyes?
One whose deeds find favor in the eyes of Hashem. And who does not find favor? One whose deeds are the opposite.

If so Avimelech was on an extremely wondrous level of Emunah and what happened to Avimelech at the end?
What did he want from Yitzchok? Just to make a covenant and nothing more. He came a Gentile, and left as a Gentile, and remained a Gentile! And what happened to his great level of Emunah that he had [he should have wanted to convert and be like Yitzchok]?

The answer is that this teaches you that one who doesn’t work on his characteristic traits just remains with his desires and lusts. He cannot separate himself from the pleasure of this world and its impurities. He can speak with his mouth and lips words of Belief and Trust etc. , but he cannot overpower his Evil Inclination because he didn’t accustom himself to do this when he was younger. He had become submerged and rooted in sin, so much so, that he can’t move from his despicable deeds even one iota. How fearful and awesome!!

2-The second case in point is with Eisav. One pictures Eisav as your classical Rosho -wicked person who has no belief in Hashem. But consider the following.

When Eisav found out that his brother Yaacov stole his Berachos-Blessings he reacted drastically. He screamed a terrifying bitter scream [Bereishis 27:34]. He even wanted to kill his brother[verse 41].

If Eisav was an atheist who had no belief in Hashem , as we perceive, then of what value are these blessings of his old father [which come from Hashem] to him? Why should he take it so much to heart if Yaacov took them?

Let’s analyze the scene. Eisav was at the time a grown man of 63 [see Bereishis 28:9-in Rashi who says Yaacov was 63, and Eisav was his twin] and he’s begging his father for a blessing, and when his father doesn’t bless him, he lifts up his voice and cries.

This is a clear sign that he has great Emunah-Belief.

a) Firstly, in Hashem, and that He created and runs the world.

b) Eisav also believes that there are people who find favor in Hashem’s eyes, and they will receive from Hashem whatever they ask for.

c) If those people bless someone it will be completely fulfilled.

d) One whose deeds find favor in Hashem’s eyes is among this category of people. Consequently, Yitzchok is one of those people who finds favor in Hashem’s eyes and has the power to bless.

e) Without his Father’s blessing he won’t succeed at all, and all his efforts will be fruitless. Not his strength nor his wisdom, nothing will help him, only his father’s blessing will help him in all his endeavors.

Therefore, when he hears that his father can’t bless him, he lifts up his voice with a bitter cry and scream as a man whose house burned down and he lost his whole fortune at one time.

What a great and strong Emunah in Hashem this is?

So why was he a rosho-wicked person?

The answer is as we explained before, that if a person doesn’t work to uproot his bad midos he will get sunken into impurity every day until there is no cure. And even though his intellect knows very well the proper path, but his heart is very far from the understanding of his intellect.

I will end off with the advice of Rav Lopian at the end of Parshas Vayechi.
“To uproot a mido needs tremendous toil [Torah and Mussar]and help and much Divine Asistance. That’s why all the righteous people pray and supplicate Hashem, “וטהר לבנו לעבדך באמת”- “Purify our hearts to serve you in truth.” Likewise, they constantly pray, “והחזירינו בתשובה שלימה לפניך-influence us to return in perfect repentance before you,” which means a repentance where we uproot and purify the power behind and source of sin [bad midos] which are in the heart of a person then we can stand before Hashem as we say “before you.”

Rabbi Shlomo Price
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