This D’var Torah should be a Zechus L’Ilui Nishmas my sister, Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my paternal grandfather Moshe Ben YosefA”H, my uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein.
It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:
-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel
-My grandmothers Channah Freidel Bas Sarah, and Shulamis Bas Etta
-MY BROTHER: MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO BEN CHAYA ROCHEL
-HaRav Gedalia Dov Ben Perel
-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili
-Noam Shmuel Ben Simcha
-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis
-Nechama Hinda Bas Tzirel Leah-And all of the Cholei Yisrael, especially those suffering from COVID-19.-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken in terror attacks (Hashem Yikom Damam), and a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.
וַיִּשְׁלַח ● Vayishlach
Can You Win Back Your Innocence?
“Temimus to Shleimus”
In two week’s ago’s Parsha, Parshas Toldos, we were introduced to Yaakov Avinu whom the Torah described as an “Ish Tam” [Bereishis 25:27], or a man of innocence and wholesomeness. This praiseworthy Midah or attribute of “Temimus” appears to be marked by the purity of a perfectly clean slate, untarnished by any trace of wrongdoing or ill will.
There is something that is intuitively and undoubtedly precious about this Midah, but the question is if Temimus is something that can realistically pass the test of time. How long, in fact, does “innocence” last? Technically, it can last as long as one is sheltered or perhaps cloistered from the world, but can one remain sheltered indefinitely?
Eventually, one has to leave home and enter the real world to engage in the holy pursuits of securing a livelihood of some sort and building a family, which of course, Yaakov Avinu had ultimately done. And that means that eventually, one is bound to somewhat “lose” his “innocence” when he inevitably learns what is out there in the world; greed, dishonesty, corruption, lewdness and so forth. And if and when one has lost his innocence and has even slightly contaminated his once pure eyes, heart, or even body, can one ever fully recover? Surely, one can always repent, but can one possibly unsee and unlearn what he has seen and learned about the world? Is it possible to restore that lost innocence? And if not, is such a vulnerable streak worth striving for?
Moreover, is Temimus truly a commendable Midah to emulate if life in Hashem’s world seemingly requires that we learn “what’s out there”? Is it not the appropriate thing to do, to learn how to navigate against the darker forces in the world so that we can succeed?
“And Yaakov came whole”
Perhaps the answer to these questions appears in this week’s Parsha, Parshas Vayishlach. After Yaakov’s encounter with Eisav, the Torah relates “Vayavo Yaakov Shaleim Ir Shechem Asher B’Eretz Cana’an B’Vo’o MiPadan Aram…”-“And Yaakov arrived whole to the City of Shechem that was in the Land of Cana’an when he arrived from Padan Aram…” [Ibid. 33:18].
What exactly does it mean that Yaakov was “Shaleim,” “whole” or “complete”? The English translation curiously reminds us of the original description of Yaakov Avinu as “Tam,” relating to “Tamim” or “Temimus.” Of course, “Shaleim” is not entirely synonymous with “Tam,” so what is the difference between the two words? What is the secret to this apparent progression from “Temimus” to “Shleimus”?
Yaakov Remained Whole
In this context at least, Rashi explains that this word “Shaleim” teaches us that Yaakov remained, in all senses, whole and in one piece. He was physically safe, financially secure, and spiritually whole. In his subsequent comments, Rashi expounds further and intimates that despite the spiritual threats posed by both his spiritually corrupt uncle Lavan and brother Eisav, Yaakov remained “whole.”
But, what exactly does it mean though that Yaakov escaped both Lavan and Eisav unscathed? Does it mean that Yaakov remained blissfully and wholly innocent despite his exposure to the likes of Lavan and Eisav? On the contrary, if Yaakov did not learn about the craft of his corrupt counterparts, he could have never survived against them. That, indeed, is why Rivkah situated Yaakov out of his comfort zone and cloaked him in the literal and figurative garb of Eisav.
But, what perhaps Rashi is telling us is that when Yaakov eventually did leave his comfort zone and learned a bit about the “real world,” he did not entirely leave his Temimus at the door, but he maintained the spiritual and moral compass that came with his Temimus and constantly used it as he learned, adopted, and began applying the crafty tools to handle himself in the “real world.” Of course Yaakov needed to learn to be clever, for example, but not at the expense of moral correctness. He needed to be cunning to combat cunning forces, but not to do so in a way that is illicit, illegitimate, or illegal. Rather, he would remain “whole” and apply the new craft in a way that is line with Ratzon Hashem.
Temimus to Shleimus – Becoming Whole
And here is where we can begin to understand the development and progression from Temimus to Shleimus. What is the precise difference between the two stages? One who is Tam is innocent and pure, but he stands with a blank, somewhat unrefined and unsophisticated slate. But, one who is Shaleim is a refined, developed composite of every important trait and attribute.
No, we cannot unsee what we’ve seen. We may not be able to un-hear the secrets of the world which may have been better left unsaid. We may not be able un-experience a spiritually controversial life experience. Maybe, we cannot “win back” our innocence. But, once some of our innocence is lost, what do we do next? Do we just completely leave go of our moral compass and give up? Do we allow the negative forces that we’ve been exposed us to corrupt us further? If we maintain our moral compass, we can learn to apply our new knowledge of the “real world” in a way that is appropriate and maintain our wholesomeness. If we do, we can use attributes such as cleverness to combat spiritual threats. And in so doing, we can become “Shaleim,” being both informed and yet spiritually intact. This is the graduation from Temimus to Shleimus.
May we all be Zocheh to attain Shleimus, being appropriately informed about the world, but remaining spiritually intact, and we should not only survive this world, but our Shleimus should also stand for us as our ticket to the next world and full redemption the days of Moshiach, Bimheirah BiYomeinu! Have a Great Shabbos!
-Yehoshua Shmuel Eisenberg