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Deaf to the World

Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26 )

by Rabbi Eli Scheller

His sons carried him (Yaakov) to the land of Canaan and they buried him in the cave of Machpelah. (Gen. 29:13)

Eisav interfered with the burial of Yaakov in Me'aras Hamachpelah, saying that the remaining space in the cave was reserved for him. Yaakov's sons sent Naftali, who was fleet-footed, to Egypt to fetch the contract which stated that Eisav had sold his spot to Yaakov. Meanwhile, the burial was delayed. When Chushim, the deaf son of Dan, realized what was happening, he became infuriated and shouted, "Shall my grandfather lie here in disgrace until Naftali returns from Egypt!?" Chushim took a club and struck Eisav so hard that he knocked his head off his shoulders.(1) Why didn't Yaakov's sons stand up for their father's honor? Was Chushim the only one who truly cared?

When Eisav interfered the brothers assumed that they would resolve the argument quickly and have Yaakov buried in no time. Then it started dragging out, and in the interim Yaakov was just lying there in disgrace. The brothers soon got used to that, and they did not see it as ignominious anymore. However, Chushim was deaf; he was impervious to outside influences and always saw reality as it was: Eisav was preventing his grandfather from being buried. He did not hear any argument from Eisav that could have made him see things differently, and so he could not get used to the situation as it was. The only way to end this was to kill Eisav.

Rooted inside everyone is the ability to adapt to different situations. Adaptability helps a person get used to difficult and uncomfortable circumstances. The first day at school you may feel out of place and you just want to go home, but a few days later you already feel like you are home! On the other hand, adaptability may weaken a person's motivation to do good. You walk out from a lecture inspired, you're on fire, excited to achieve great things, and then someone tells you, "You have to be realistic" or "You're dreaming." You then procrastinate and second-guess yourself, until the fire gets smaller and smaller until it goes out. One must act immediately and be deaf to the world, ignoring everyone's negative and discouraging remarks.(2)

NOTES

1. Sota 13a.

2. R' Chaim Shmuelevitz.

 

 




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