Devarim- Surrounding Eisav

As Bnei Yisroel approach the land of Eisav, Har Seir, Moshe tells them : It is enough that you are travelling around Har Seir, turn towards the north. There is a Midrash on this Pasuk that defines the word ‘north’ in its other meaning in Hebrew- to hide. And Moshe is telling the Jewish people to hide themselves. Where can an entire nation hided? Explains the Midrash it means to immerse yourself in the Torah so that it cloaks and hides you. What does that entail?
Explains the Chidushei HaRim , the first Rebbe of Gur, that when the Jews were told to travel around the land of Eisav, it meant that they were to surround the land of Eisav with Torah, and as a result subjugate them. If we had done that, we could have potentially reached the culmination of Yakov’s confrontation with Eisav. When Eisav comes to meet Yakov as he returns from the house of Lavan, Eisav desires to leave an army with Yakov. Says Yakov, do not do that, I will travel at my own pace till I meet my master in Seir. Asks Rashi , we never find that Yakov even attempts to travel to Seir? He answers, that Yakov was referring to the Pasuk at the end of Ovadiah, that when the saviors go up to Har Tzion, and judge Har Eisav, then HaShem will be the ruler of the world. And that is the final culmination that began in the womb of Rivkah.
Now in the desert Moshe told the Jewish people that we will travel around Har Seir. I would like to suggest that the travel around Har Eisav, was like what we did around Jericho. The Hakafos around Jericho were to surround the Tumah, and overcome it. When they travel around Eisav, they are trying the same. But when Moshe sees that this does not work, he says enough! We tried and it did not work, we need to wait to do this, and now we need to travel a different path. What is that path? To the North, to the hidden world, which is to hide ourselves in the Torah. But what does that mean?
The Chidushei HaRim explains that when a person is hidden in the Torah, the Torah is a wall around us. A wallis a fact. As much as you would like to walk through it, you know you cannot. Most of the time, we view the Ten Commandments as ten suggestions. To keep them or Chalila not to, it is our choice. But there is a level whereby the Torah becomes a wall. The thought of breaching the Torah is as impossible as walking through a wall. If we have that level, then when we surround a place of Tumah, whether Jericho, or Eisav; we control them, and can overcome their Tumah. But if the Torah is not a wall around us, then we cannot create that wall around the Tumah and overcome it.
How do we reach that level? There is a Chazal which says that anyone who says the Pasuk, “And you shall shecht in the north side of the Mizbeach before HaShem” every day, HaShem will remember for him the Akeidah of Yitzchok. What is the connection? The Akeidah was that Yitzchok completely accepted what Avrohom told him was the will of HaShem. There was no doubt, and he could not in any way contemplate going against that. The Tzafon-north; but which also means Tzafun as in hidden; is completely in consonance with the will of HaShem. Ad that is what Akeida literally means, that I am bound to HaShem and there is no other will in my life. Even when I am doing other things, I am bound to HaShem. A person who lives their life that their most private personal hidden aspects, are always connected to the will of HaShem, is living an Akeida.
Therefore when Moshe sees that the Jews cannot overcome Eisav, their Hakafos around Eisav do not affect Eisav. He says that this means that your internal wall is not strong enough to create the wall around Eisav, and you need to strengthen it by travelling to the Tzafon.
But where does Eisav get that power from to counteract our Hakafos? Of course it is a lack that we need to overcome, but where does Eisav have the ability to counter this?
Explains the Chidushei HaRim, that Eisav has the Zechus of Harim- mountains. In numerous places the Avos are called mountains. Eisav was very careful in Kibud Av, so therefore we could only go around his mountain but not conquer it. But in what special point did Eisav have a unique Kibud Av, that we could not overcome?
It could be that the answer is in the following Chazal . Says Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel that my Kibud Av does not approach Eisav. When I serve my father my clothes are dirty, but Eisav had royal clothes to serve his father. Many ask, so why did Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel not change his clothes? And the answer that is given across the range of Torah commentaries is that if he would do this only in imitation of Eisav, it would be nothing.
Obviously the Mitzvos and chiyuvim we need to do, even if we do not ’feel’ them. But to do something as an extra Avoda in imitation of someone else is lacking.
We find the same idea in another Gemarra . One of the Amoraim, Mar Ukva, said that he is vinegar the son of wine compared to his father. His father would wait between milk and meat till the next day, while I only wait till the next meal. The same question is raised here. Says Reb Bunim of Peshischa, that if you are just doing a chumra because your father does it, that itself makes you vinegar. (Once again, a family minhag one is obligated to keep because of Halacha, we are discussing ways of personal avoda.)
What defines the difference between whether it is from within you, or an external copycatting from someone else? I think the two ideas complement one another. If you feel it from within you as a wall something you cannot break, then it is on the level of Eisav. But if it is not natural, if it is a struggle and an externally imposed burden then you are like Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel and should not do it.
That is why when the Jews travel around the mountain of Eisav, the mountain representing his Kibud Av, and cannot overcome it; Moshe says go hide yourself in the Torah- connect yourself to the Torah in a way where it is a wall around you. Go to the north to the hidden integral part of yourself that you cannot breach, and then we can overcome Eisav.
The Ba’al HaTurim finds this idea in the words of the Pasuk . The word “surround” is written with a Samach. On the top of the Samach are crowns. Says the Ba’al HaTurim, since Eisav honored his father Yitzchok who was sixty when Eisav was born, therefore we cannot overcome him. And therefore, he can destroy the Bais HaMikdosh which is sixty Amos tall.
We are in the times of Bein HaMetzarim. The walls of Yerushalayim were breached and the Bais Hamikdosh is about to be destroyed. Let us rebuild our own internal walls, make them an integral part of ourselves, and save the Bais HaMikdosh.
And let Tisha B’av become the glorious Joyous Yom Tov it is supposed to be!


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