Posted by: admiralfrum | November 23, 2009

Subversion and Subversiveness

Hakoras Hatov:

A bochur in Lubavitch posted this summary to one of my favorite sichos. I know it’s from last week’s parsha, but it really uplifted my shabbos to think it over again. Now I’m normally the type of person to immediately stop paying attention as soon as I see any dvar toira online. As soon as I see them I skip over them. I guess if I wanted to learn I wouldn’t be online in the first place. But this one’s different (at least to me).

Eisav – a character so bad we normally suffix his name with “HaRosho”, had something we should aspire to. Eisav is HaKoivesh es Yitzro, while Yankev Avinu is Chossid HaMeulah. War and Peace. Conquering or sitting in a tent. Eisav’s trapping – deception and deciet – is the bread and butter of Yiddishkeit. Making a dira lo yisborech and dealing with the world is about revealing certain things and not revealing other things. The world is a place of falsehood, and we need to use deception in order to deal with it. Eisav just made a mistake; he made trapping and field work the basis of his lifestyle, while in order to succeed you need to always put kedusha first.

Personally I’m always interested in the Dark Side of life – deceit, violence, anger, money, whatever. In order to live a frum life in the world today it you need to understand it, because otherwise you can’t choose the right way to go. If you are choosing between chaim and tov and moveis and rah, you have to know all of your choices. You might think you’re avoiding bad, and actually choosing worse.

In chabad you sometimes hear stories and tidbits that are very subversive. That the Rayatz’s kittel had the monogram “JS“. That all the big mashpi’im smoke. That the Rebbe davened in his room most mornings. What does this teach us? That it’s not so poshut. This world is about priorities, and seemingly  negative activities often have benefits that are worth the costs.

At the moment I’m learning Ete”r, from the Rebbe Rashab. I’ve learned bits of other hemshechim but this one seems to be a special fit for me. Last week I noticed the word in Chumash Toldos (25:21): וַיֶּעְתַּר יִצְחָק לַיהוָה לְנֹכַח אִשְׁתּוֹ, כִּי עֲקָרָה הִוא. Rashi says there that all עתר is loshon הפצרה ורבוי – urging in prayer. It’s not quite connected to what I get out of it, but I think it’s fitting as eter is good for davening.

At any rate, it’s nice to identify with Eisav for once.


  1. thanks for the honorable mention!

    • Sure thing – keep up the good work.

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