Posted with permission
Parshas Toldos: in praise of Torah true, ehrliche Balle batim
1. And this week’s parsha, the Torah tells us how Yitzchok loved Esav while Rivka loved Yakov. The Torah tells us that therefore Yitzchok wanted to give the berchos to Esav but that Rivka was able to get the berachos for her son Yaakov. Rav Belsky zatzal asked-why did Yitzchok want to give the berachos to Esav and not Yaakov when Yaakov was a greater person? He answered, as many others have done as well, that Yitzchok originally thought that perhaps being that Esav was a man of the field, that he would more suited to support the physical means of Yaakov while Yaakov dedicated his full to Torah and spiritual pursuits. Thus he would give the blessings of material bounty to Esav, while keeping the spiritual blessings for Yaakov.
2. However Rivka understood the true nature of Esav and that Esav would never partner successfully with Yaakov. Therefore, she decided to do otherwise and get the berachos to Yaakov instead. What, we can take out from this is the need to have both financial and spiritual independence. We cannot rely on those who are uncommitted to our values to help us in this sphere. We need to have both the spiritual and financial abilities to make what we need for the creation of spheres of spiritual enclaves.
3. But in truth, this thought leads me to more. Last week we discussed the question that many privately ask: why does my yiddishkeit matter. This question is not felt that much by the spiritual elites but more by the plain (shrinking class of) ball habus in our society. In particular, why the middle of the road, average baal habus matters to yiddishkeit. Why the simple ball habus is needed to stand strong, in face of the onslaught of the yetzer hara who entices them every moment of the day. Besides for all the ideas of chiyvim and the rest that we all know well, what is it that balle batim can inspire themselves and stave off the yetzer hara with. This question is not so much faced by the much praised and needed rich and wealthy ball habus, and not by the ones who learn a whole day and are on the top of the spiritual totem pole-but those who are oisak biparnasah and are kovea iteim everyday-what is their role in yiddishkeit?
4. While, I will ihy”h address this question in much greater depth a different week, and in fact there is a much greater conceptual answer to this burning question, there is in fact a very practical and incredibly important role that balle batishe people play in supporting klal yisroel’s spirituality. And here I don’t just mean in financial terms, which is also the case, but in fact in spiritual terms.
5. As we mentioned before, Rivkah understood the outcome of such a shidduch between Esav and Yaakov, perhaps even better than her sublime and holy husband understood it. She understood, that while it’s true that it is that the Esav could be saddled to this holy task of supporting his brother in his spiritual pursuits, the reality won’t be like that. Why not? Why wouldn’t it work for an Esav to fulfill the role of the “supporter of Torah” while Yaakov be completely devoted to spiritual pursuits?
6. The answer I believe is as follows. While it may work for the first generation-it would be a disaster for the next. For the nature of human beings is: people look up to rich people, to successful, self-supporting individuals. People respect people that can bring home sustenance. If Esav were to be the breadwinner and Yaakov dependent upon him, it is very likely that the next generation of people would begin to look up to such a figure in respect. And as their respect for him grows, his influence will grow as well. And as his influence grows, so will the respect for his evil ways, his lust for pleasure, his drive for power and all the other negatives associated with Esav, to the next generation. And this is what Rivka was possibly afraid of. She was afraid of those with means being a negative spiritual influence upon the next generations. And so thus, in order to spare her children from almost certain influence, the money and support needed to come from internal sources-not to be beholden to treife outside sources.
7. And this is why ehrliche, sincere balle batim matter. All types of levels of sincere ehrliche balle batim. For they provide a powerful spiritual example to those growing up that yes-you could be a member of this world and still be a completely ehrliche Yid. And more importantly, the presence of Torah true balle batim diminish the power and persuasive effect that “fake Jews” have on the klal. When people who have been cloistered and peer pressured into being frum come into the world to “escape”, and see strong bnai Torah working, people who keep to the gdirai hatznius even in office environments, away from the frowns of Rabbaanim, it makes a deep impression. (Maybe even more than a Rav in all his lectures can have).
8. Moreover, the mere presence of such kinds of balle batim, strengthens weak yidden. For when such people see a person learning during his lunch break, when they see one who has his own business and schedule, starts his day after learning a few hours in bais Medrash each and every morning, it makes a strong roshem. When such weak yidden, see one who travels on the train with his eyes glued to a sefer or tehillim and not to the pritzus of the outside, where they see someone who goes out regularly and excitedly to meet his master for mincha no matter what the deal is that he may be missing, or when they see that no matter how much money they could make, they keep halacha and are nosai vinosai bemunah, those little signs have a tremendous impact. They inspire those who have weaker spiritual constitutions, and weaker feelings towards Torah to remain in the fold, and may make these “fake Jews” inspired (or lichol hapachus just embarrassed to show outwardly their laxity regarding halacha) to keep halacha when they see their balle batishe friends who are real and inspired Torah true yidden.
9. And how sad it is that these types of ehrliche Jews are, and have become, a relative rarity in the workforce. As society has become more and more polarized between the “earners and learners”, away has slipped these ehrliche balle batim. And away has slid the weak Jew and R”L has dropped everything. Now, in our polarized world, instead of having positive erhliche role models “in the trenches”, being the true foot soldiers of Hashem, we have throngs of weak Yidden becoming ever more disenfranchised from the spirit of Klal Yisroel.
10. And so chazak viematz to those that wage the holy battle of becoming ehrliche balle batim. You matter because of the power you spill over to others to remain Torah frum Jews in challenging spiritual environments. You matter because you inspire the next generation of children who can’t see themselves in full time learning that they too can be a somebody who counts on this world. You, by your example, inspire young children who won’t remain in the koslai beth medrash literally all their lives, to become erhliche balle batim and to see a future for themselves as well in a yididshkeit that balances Torah im derech eretz. It’s true, most glossy magazines won’t put you on the cover because you haven’t done anything spectacular in the eyes of masses, but Hashem knows and that’s who really cares. Hashem knows the literal mesiras nefesh it takes you to remain strong to your ideals, values and Torah practices in the world today and it is to that which you will be rewarded justly. And in the end, people know and are influenced by your actions. Your actions will have an everlasting impact on amcha-on those around you who are influenced by your Torah true ways. Ashraichem.
Chazak viematz and ah gut Shabbos to all.
 I remember more than a few times how Rav Belsky would sing the praises of the ehrliche yid sitting amongst the 49 shaare tumah on the train, his hat slouched down low over his eyes to shield his purity of his eyes from seeing evil and instead glued to the sefer on his lap. Rebbe’s eyes would glaze over, would tear up as he remembered this scene. The thought of this great act of gevura, not recorded anywhere expect in heaven, not praised on any magazine cover, but sincere ehrlichkeit as he shut out the world from his eyes and ears and eased away from the tumas haaretz into the purity of a sefer.
And how much can people accomplish on the train! My father shilit”a finished shisha sidrai Mishna with the bartenura and other meforshim and other such monumental feats just while going back and forth on the train daily from work. Ashrecha! And ashraiechem to all those who have completed daf yomi on the LIRR and all those others like them. You are an inspiration to all!