Friday Candle Lighting: 4:28 pm
Shabbat Ends: 5:16 pm
His Heart’s Desire
“And Yaakov became frightened, and it distressed him.” (13:17)
Rashi explains that, sensing his forthcoming encounter with Esav, Yaakov “became frightened” lest he be killed, and “it distressed him” lest he kill Esav. The halacha states that if someone comes to kill you, it is a mitzvah to pre-empt him and kill him first. Given that Yaakov knew this mitzvah, why should he be distressed? Yaakov Avinu certainly knew the difference between sensitivity and sentimentality.
The only reason that Yaakov bought the portion of the firstborn from Esav was so he could perform the Divine Service of the Beit Hamikdash. TheShulchan Aruch, the universal Code of Jewish Law, says (Orach Chaim 128:35) that a kohen who kills someone, even inadvertently, may no longer “duchan” (he may no longer raise his hands in the priestly blessing), for “his hands are full of blood.” If bloody hands proscribe the giving of the priestly blessing, all the more so would be forbidden the higher level of the Temple Service at the Altar.Thus, were Yaakov to kill Esav he would forfeit the Temple Service, and the buying of the firstborn’s portion would have been for naught (not to mention the concomitant hatred of Esav).
For this reason Yaakov was distressed at the possibility that he might have to kill Esav and lose his heart’s most precious desire.