“The house of Yaakov will be fire, and the house of Yosef – a flame, and the house of Esav – straw” (Ovadia 1:18).
The House of Esav is called “straw” because it has no permanent existence.
One spark emerging from Yosef will consume and burn all of the straw. The straw will kindle and be consumed. There will be no survivor of the House of Esav.
Yosef is the shepherd for the sefira of yesod, foundation. Foundation is funneling together of the middos – chesed through hod – before they are given to Malchus, the world of action. The sefira are the vessels that flow Infinite Light from Hashem through the worlds. Imbalances from the counterforce, the Soton, nature, are our unrectified nature, our Esav within.
Hear this description from Rabbi Tatz of tohu and our lives.
Rabbi Tatz retells the story of Dovid asking Hashem to test him. This led to his failure with the test with Batsheva. Why? Rabbi Tatz shows how that any slight leaning towards the “I” – as in when Dovid said to Hashem, let “me” show you – IS the battleground for reaching within to that spark buried within our subconscious.
We are here to learn how to make supreme effort in the world and fight battles like Dovid but without the “I.” We assert ourselves with every nuance of our personality and talents, but without ego.
A slave says I want to actualize all I am for YOU. We take our independence and assert with full dedicated responsibility, assert ourselves mightily in the world for Hashem. We give it all back to Him. When it is for the “I”, however slight, however innocent it feels, that is the mistake and that is where we focus our attention to draw forth the flame..
The flame that leaps out of the four elements within such an effort brings with it the spark of tohu, sparks fallen from cosmically great souls, that fell into this world, the death of the kings. “And he ruled and he died. What killed them in an instant that is mortally dangerous? As they were created, they felt that they were needed and independent. They saw themselves as existing and separate from Hashem and that error at their level of greatness was the flaw that killed them.”
How do we incorporate this into our lives?
When our survival instincts are triggered, when we feel a real or perceived threat to our existence thinking that our existence is up to us, we may begin to contemplate how to assert our view and arrange the circumstances using power to bring about the result that we desire. We bring up our inner Esav to do battle with the outside world, to trap, to influence, to conquer.
Do we really consider anything else? Do we not rely on networking and education to help us navigate through our challenges with the greatest awareness of nature and mastery of its apparent characteristics?
We believe we are empowered to do this and that we are, as adults, able to determine our destiny. We take steps towards our goals despite its impact upon others, who “we leave to Hashem” to handle, believing that we are permitted to move forward and if Hashem says yes to our plan, then He has “approved” it and therefore it was okay to take these steps.
These plans we make are the Esav within us.
Even if we move with permitted actions, or even with actions that seemingly are mitzvahs, if we know at any level that we are exercising power over another or defeating another’s goals, this is something we must not ignore, for we are accountable for every moment of pain or suffering we cause. Hashem may go along with it due to the other person’s aveiras, however, that does not recuse of from being the ones He has chosen to inflict the pain or the kaparah or the judgment.
So what are we to do? Wait and see?
That is exactly what emunah tells us to do. How do we sincerely hold still?
Pachad Yitzchok. Yitzchok asked to be bound so he would not move as Avraham raised his sword to shecht him.
Rabbi Gedalia Segal on Parshas Vayeitzei tells us how Yaakov trusted in Hashem.
“A person should always ask that Hashem is with us, that if Hashem is with us we can withstand anything. We don’t have the power to save ourselves. When a person realizes we are nothing and cannot save ourselves from any mishaps or sins unless Hashem helps us and he realizes that Hashem’s soul is within us – this is what Yaakov realized. That he cannot save himself. He saw Esav was trying to kill him and he ran away and then he saw from the yetzer hara there is no safe place. From Esav he could run away but from the evil inclination there is no place to run because it comes with us. That is why he davened. I will return in peace to my father’s house. Rashi says he said it means he prayed to be free of sin and if I can be free from sin that I did not learn from Lavan then I can say that it was because Hashem was with me. One person used to praise himself that he had a great wealth of gold that his uncle bequeathed him from Africa, on a high mountain. So someone said you fool why are you praising yourself, this treasure is so far away it is not in your hand and what is it going to do for you? So too if a person brings enthusiasm that he believes in the Creator, is He up in the heavens or is He in your heart. Hashem has to be inside my heart. When Yisroel Salanter said Shema, he saw that a person can really make Hashem the king over the seven heavens and the four corners of the world. No one thinks Hashem should be king on the small part in his heart. Only that Hashem is in our heart was Yaakov able to overcome the challenge with Lavan, to be complete in his emunah and be pure and only with this could he establish the tribes of the Jewish nation and make a foundation for a holy nation. We have to appeal to Hashem that He should watch us because He is within every person and we have to ask His Help to be free of sin. That is what it means he asked Hashem to be my Gd, and if I am successful then I know you are with me because otherwise I could not stand it.”
We are thoughts in the mind of Hashem.
We have nothing, we are nothing, we do nothing independently.
When Yaakov defeats his inner Esav, he is given the name Yisroel. The fire of Yaakov consumes the straw of Esav.
When we walk with emunah and bitachon as one with Hashem, this choice emits a flame from within, as did Yosef. That flame transforms what is impermanent. What is impermanent is the counterforce causing anochius within our consciousness, blocking the reality of Hashem’s Oneness.
From deep within our inner consciousness, we engage in a choice between our inner Esav and our inner Yaakov. By choosing to include Hashem in the picture and move with Torah, we release the spark, the flame, from the counterforces affecting the four foundations, earth wind water and fire, from chesed to hod, through recognizing the emes from the yesod. Yosef mastered nature and released light into the world and became King of Egypt ruling over nature. He demonstrates true Ein Od Milvado consciousness.
May we see the design, feel the possibilities for expression and purpose and meaning that take on a new level when we use real free will to emit the spark , the flame, that is causing imbalance within the sefiros, corrupting our primal will and middos.
Hashem is One and we are an emanation, with a purpose and mission and a meaning far greater than the gratification or pleasure of the ego. When we feel challenges and pulls towards moving for reasons that feel our self-concern, ask for Hashem’s divine mercy, ask Him to please be our protection and guide. This compassion upon the Shechina in exile opens the possibility for the sparks to emit and reveal Hashem is One.