Parashas Vayishlach

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Am I Responsible for You?

Taste of Talmud

In Tractate Sota 37B, the Talmud teaches us the concept of “Arvoos”, responsibility.  More accurately translated “Arvoos” means being a guarantor or a co-signer for another Jew.  The Talmud teaches us that when G-d made a covenant with the Jewish people we not only committed to following the 613 commandments but also to making sure our fellow Jews adhere to them as well.  This commitment includes reaching out to our fellow Jews and making available to them material which will inspire them to better adhere to the commandments of our Lord our Creator.  The only debate is whether or not we also accepted upon ourselves the obligation to inspire others to inspire others!

Taste of Halacha

It is the 2nd night of Chanukah you have 2 candles but your friend has none.  Are you required to give your friend one candle to light, and fulfill the basic obligation of lighting one candle each night, even though it will mean you will not be able to fulfill the Mitzvah in its ideal way; which is by  lighting 2 candles corresponding to the 2nd night?  The Magen Avraham says you are obligated to provide for your friend so that he will be able to fulfill his obligation. However, if it means you will not be able to do the Mitzvah at all, for example, if you only have 1 candle, you should not give it to your friend.  This obligation comes from the concept of “Arvoos”: responsibility, which one Jew has for another. This is also why you may make the blessing of Kiddush for your friend even if you have already fulfilled your obligation.

Taste of Parasha

The Medrash in Chapter 76 on this week’s Parasha says the attack on Dena occurred on account of Yaakov Avinu hiding Dena in a box prior to his meeting with Eisav.  Some explain that Yaakov Avinu was right for hiding Dena from Eisav but he should have let out a sigh when he closed the box.  Rav Yaakov Weinberg Zt”l says there is no source for this. Others answer that Yaakov Avinu should have let her marry Eisav so that she could influence him to do Teshuva. This too is problematic.  A Jew is not obligated to sin so that his friend should do a Mitzvah.  So it would have been forbidden for Dena to be married to Eisav while still a Rasha; even if that would have brought him to do Teshuva. .  Why then was he faulted for keeping her out of Eisav’s sight?  What our sages are teaching us is, if Eisav would have seen Dena and asked Yaakov to marry her, then Yaakov could have said I will only let you marry her if you do Teshuva prior to the marriage.  Even though this may have led to a fight this was a risk worth taking on behalf of Eisav.  So Rav Weinberg Zt”l explains Yaakov Avinu was punished for not taking the risk of letting Eisav see Dena thereby giving Eisav the opportunity to be inspired to do Teshuva.  Rav Weinberg concludes we must learn from here to what extent we must be willing to go to help a fellow Jew return to the ways of Hashem.

About tasteofyeshiva

RABBI YAIR FRIEDMAN teaches in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in YES and is the president of Visionary Reading. He was a Rebbi at The Torah School of Greater Washington, and a founding member of the Greater Washington Community Kollel and the owner of Camp Gevaldig LLC.
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