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The Torah tells us that when Yacov cooked the red lentils Eisav said, “Pour into me, now, some of that very red stuff...” and since red is Edom in Hebrew, that’s why he was called Edom. [Breishis 25:30]
The Sefer Tallelei Oros brings the Skulener Rebbe who asks that how is it that just because Eisav said once the word “red” that he was named Edom for all the generations?
He answers that this wasn’t just a chance expression that came out of this wicked man’s mouth .
Rather, this story of Eisav buying the red lentils in exchange for his Bechoro-the Birthright, in exchange for this exalted spiritual position, in exchange for the Service in the Beis Hamikdash is none other than an expression of the nature and way of life of Eisav.
This was a wretched lifestyle of Eisav whose only content was the exchange of a permanent world for a temporary passing world.
A relationship of contempt and humiliation for anything that smells of holiness and spirituality. And all this in exchange for a small passing pleasure to get a portion of hot lentils that after a while will leave no effect.
On this wretched hinge his whole life revolved.
The feeling of “Look, I’m going to die,” [verse32] led him to advocate the view of obtaining much worldly pleasure, “Eat and drink for tomorrow we die.”
The event with the red lentils was not just a passing event rather a link in his wretched way of life. [till here is from the Skulener Rebbe].
I saw a similar point in “Birchas Peretz,” by the Steipler Rav Yaacov Yisroel Kaniefsky,ztl. [also brought down in Lekach Tov].
He shows the vast contrast of how Eisav felt during the sale and how he felt afterwards.
He brings the Midrash that says that Eisav brought a group of his gangsters to make fun of Yaacov for being so foolish as to buy the worthless Birthright and pay the real commodity of the lentils. Eisav thought at that point that he was fooling Yaacov.
However, later when the pleasure of the lentils wore off, he had a tremendous change of heart. Eisav, after all, was brought up in the house of Yitzchok and had some idea of the value of the Birthright.
He realized then that it was Yaacov who fooled him as it says in the posuk, “…he [Yaacov] fooled me twice he took my Birthright…” [Bereishis 27:36]
The truth is, however, is that Eisav didn’t fool Yaacov, because Yaacov knew what he was doing and how worth it, it was to receive the Birthright for the lentils. And Yaacov didn’t fool Eisav because Eisav willingly gave it then, especially since he didn’t value the privilege of bringing sacrifices that the Birthright entitled him.
The Birca Peretz also warns each of us to reflect if many times we don’t follow Eisav’s perverted view of life of exchanging our eternal olom habo for the passing olom hazeh!
And like Eisav, we may enjoy it when we do it but when the pleasure wears off we regret it just like Eisav and realize that we fooled ourselves.
However, the main regret will be the bitter scream we give in the true world –Olom Habo, where physical commodities have ceased existing. Then our soul will mourn the destruction of a permanent world which he could have acquired here when he was alive. He could have even reached the level of Moishe Rabbeinu as the Rambam writes in Hilchos Teshuvah.
I will say a few words to help us internalize how foolish this way of life is.
The Mesilas Yesharim by Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzato, Z.T.L. says: (Chapter 1) Our duty in this world is to bask in Hashem’s glory in Olom Habo. We were put here only to "earn" our portion in Olam Habo by doing Torah and Mitzvos. The trouble is that the yetzer haro makes us forget this and work mainly for olom hazeh, and throw a couple of bones for olom haboh. This is like the fellow who is going to live in Israel for the rest of his life and is making a stopover in France for a few hours. Instead of studying Hebrew, the language he will need for the rest of his life, he bothers to study French. How foolish is such a person? Whatever we are doing in life should have this goal in mind, to get to olom haboh. Even when doing physical necessities such as eating, sleeping and working for parnosoh, our intentions should be that we are doing these activities in order to be healthy enabling us to serve Hashem.
Rav Shalom, zt'l, brings that the Chofetz Chaim said this moving parable to help us understand the folly of running to gather worldly pleasures and goods as opposed to Torah and Mitzvos.
A fellow traveled to a far away land to make a living. After fifteen years of hard work, he realized that he had enough money and wanted to go back home. He made a simple calculation that instead of bringing home money, he would buy a commodity here that was scarce in his home town and sell it in his home for an even greater profit.
He remembered that candles made from fats were very expensive in his home town due to the rarity of fats. But in this country, where he was, fats were plentiful and cheap. So he bought a whole boat load of fats and was ready to embark on his trip back home.
Right before his boat was about to leave, a jewel merchant tried to persuade this fellow to buy a few gems. It seems that there was a vast supply of gems and therefore they were very cheap in this country.
This fellow did not want to be bothered with such "trivialities", but the merchant persuaded the fellow to buy three gems for his wife for a few cents and the fellow thrust them in his pocket.
The boat began its journey of many months to get to his home. In the duration the fats started to rot and gave off a terrible smell which permeated the whole ship. The sailors could not take the terrible smell and tried to ascertain its source. When they realized that it was the fats, they threw them all into the sea. This fellow was left with nothing to show for his fifteen years of back breaking labor. No money and no merchandise.
He approached his destination in a terribly depressed mood. His family, who knew nothing of his loss, assumed he was coming home as a very wealthy man. They came to greet him at the port and were surprised at his quiet reaction. He barely said anything and he looked so downcast. They attributed this to the difficulty of the trip, and very soon he would be back to normal.
They made a homecoming party but he still remained quiet. Everyone left and he went to his room to sleep.
His wife was very pained. She had hoped that her husband would return a happy man and they would now be successful. Instead he was very depressed and apparently came back empty handed.
All of a sudden, a thought entered her mind. Let me check his pockets maybe he brought something home after all. She found the three gems and went to a jeweler. The jeweler gasped when he saw them and exclaimed, "You are millionaires. With these three gems you can live with plenty all of your lives, you, your children and grandchildren!
When her husband woke up, she came over to him overjoyed. She said now I understand that you wanted to keep these gems a secret. She told him what the jeweler said about the gems expecting him to share her joy.
Instead, to her astonishment, her husband burst out crying hysterically and bitterly. She asked him, "Why are you crying? You're a millionaire!"
He explained to her, "What a fool I was? What kind of merchandise did I buy? I bought many crates of fats which eventually rotted and had to be thrown out. Instead of this worthless merchandise, I could have used my money to buy crates of gems like these and I could have supported the whole city. Oh, what a fool I was!?"
Now his wife understood. If three gems were so valuable, imagine how valuable crates of these gems would be.
The Chofetz Chaim concluded, with the penetrating moral.
A person comes down to this world and works hard all of his life. Then, when he leaves, he brings back whatever he bought here. And what did he buy? He bought beautiful furniture and expensive dishes. But what are they really worth in the World of Truth? They aren't worth anything. They just give off a bad smell and have to be thrown out.
All of a sudden, three angels come which were created by his Torah and Mitzvos and then things look better for him.
At that moment, the person bursts out crying, "Oh what a fool I was!? All of my life I worked for these vanities that were thrown out. Instead of these, I could have amassed crates filled with Torah and Mitzvos. And there won't be anybody there to console him, because his crying is justified. How awesome this is!