Thursday, December 08, 2011

hidden gifts

You probably wouldn't think of looking at the Kozhiglover's torah on Parshas Pinchas this time of year, but you should, otherwise you will miss a gem that relates to our parsha.  The Kozhiglover (Eretz Tzvi, Parshas Pinchas) asks why the word "shalom", the reward earned by Pinchas, is spelled with a little letter vav (there are different minhagim -- some write a borken vav, others spell it normally).  Halacha says that a person who intends to give a gift does so b'ayin yafeh, in the most generous manner.  Certainly if Hashem wanted to gift Pinchas a reward, he would not skimp! 

The Kozhiglover answers that it is precisely the fact that the vav is written small which proves the greatness and fullness of the gift.   

In our parsha, the word "Vayishakeihu," Eisav kissed Ya'akov, is written with little dots over it.  This is done to show (see Rashi) that Eisav did not mean it with a full heart.  There are other examples in the Torah of letters written with dots over them to temper the meaning of the action or word in question.  What is it about the dots that changes the meaning?  The Tikunei Zohar says that the relationship between nekudos and letters is like the relationship of the soul to the body.  The nekudos, the dots, are what invest meaning into words and letters.  The nekudos are the ratzon, chochma, pnimiyus -- the letters are the skeleton, binah, what is animated.  Pnimiyus is by definition hidden; what a person truly feels deep down remains deep down.  Feelings that are displayed in public, on the surface, are just that -- superficial and lacking true depth.  Chazal tell us that an empty vessel with a bit in it makes a lot of noise; the more open the display, the more "noise" it makes, the more assured one can be that it is not real.  (I admit my bias here -- this makes sense to me because I'm an introvert; I don't know if you all will agree.)   "Vayishakeihu" has its nekudos lying right there in the open on top of the word where you can't miss it.  Eisav came running over to Ya'akov to give him the biggest kiss and biggest hug you can imagine.  But it's precisely because Eisav made such a point of putting on a public display of his feelings that we know they were not genuine.  "Lo yachpotz k'sil b'tevunah ki im b'hisgalos libo."  (Mishlei 18:2) 

The vav in shalom is small and hidden because what Hashem gave Pinchas had depth and meaning far beyond what could be seen.  


  1. Anonymous11:47 PM

    some irony (or is it dissonance?) to this reading, to the extent that the kehuna (given Pinchas) is "a public display"; it also prompts the very question it would not want asked-- what're the (((hidden))) satisfactions of a priest?

  2. Thanks. I used this, and the previous one, at my kiddush, and it made a roshem. The previous one, by the way, is also discussed in Rav Shternbuch's Ta'am Va'da'as, which, when it doesn't make me angry, is often refreshing and enlightening. What a baal kishron he is.

  3. I also enjoy R' Shternbruch's stuff. Have you read some of his teshuvos? If the chumash sefer makes you angry, I can only imagine what the shu"t would do.

  4. Whenever I need to read his tshuvos, immediately afterwards I read the Kreisi U'Pleisi and it makes me smile.