Thursday afternoons we meet to learn Mishnayot together. We’re learning Bava Batra which deals with the responsibilities of property owners. It's fun for us to learn together and to hang out because we have a similar manner of thinking. In honor of being the Chavruta of the week, we learned something from next week’s Parsha ;-)
We wrote about the climax of the Yaakov - Esav relationship, which we will read about next week:
When Ya’akov Avinu was about to meet his brother, Esav, after twenty years of exile, the Torah recounts that Ya’akov was very frightened. Why should he be frightened? Didn’t Hashem promise to protect him wherever he goes? Ya’akov was worried that Esav had some special merit that would enable him to overtake Ya’akov. Why should Yaakov the Tzadik be concerned from the few merits that Esav the Rasha had?
The Midrash Rabba tells us that there were two Mitzvot that Esav had the opportunity to accomplish, while Ya’akov was away and therefore incapable of fulfilling during this time. These Mitzvot are Kibud Av Vaem and living in Eretz Yisrael. All the years that Ya’akov was missing out on these Mitzvot, Esav may have been fulfilling them which could put him ahead of Ya’akov in merit.
Rabbi Shmuel Mohaliver says “one is forced to say that the Mitzvah of dwelling in the land of Israel even when performed by a gentile - even Esav himself can outweigh many Mitzvot that a complete tzaddik, like Ya'akov performs. All the more so, Hashem is pleased when Jews dwell in Eretz Yisrael, even if they are otherwise unobservant.”
These two Mitzvot are so important that they could have outweighed Ya’akov’s numerous Merits.