| Parshah |

Responsibility Breeds Success

Assuming responsibility itself engenders and breeds success, making failure no longer a concern


“And Eisav said, ‘Behold, I am going to die, so why should I have this birthright?’ ” (Bereishis 25:32)


Rashi writes that before relinquishing the birthright, Eisav questioned Yaakov about the responsibilities and service that would be incumbent upon him as the firstborn.
Yaakov explained, “There are many prohibitions involved, including even punishments by death.”
Eisav concluded, “I’ll eventually die as a result of my birthright, so why should I desire it?”
Therefore, Eisav chose to trade the birthright, rather than risk his possible demise due to flawed performance. (Rabbi Daniel Stein, TorahWeb)

“Drivers needed to take patients to the hospital.”

I’d seen the advertisement before and always wished I could be involved. Having a car in Israel isn’t necessarily standard, and I wanted to share it with others as well. Still, I’d never contacted the organization.

Unfortunately, over the years, I’ve become reluctant to volunteer for chasadim, my youthful idealism replaced with practical realism. It seemed like every time I offered to do a communal chesed, there would be a sudden need for my personal chasadim inside my own home. Suppers for yoldot fell by the wayside while I struggled to make suppers that my own brood would actually eat. Visiting the sick got pushed to the side when I was tending to strep or the flu with my own little ones.

But for some reason, this past August, seeing this advertisement again galvanized me into action. Without thinking further, I dialed the number.

The Torah states that Eisav scorned the birthright by trading it away (25:34). Rav Moshe Feinstein asks, how did Eisav disparage the birthright simply by being unwilling to serve? He was understandably afraid of the consequences if he didn’t properly fulfill his obligations. 
Rav Moshe explains that Eisav’s rejection of the birthright wasn’t motivated primarily by fear of the penalties, but rather by an aversion to  assuming the responsibilities in the first place. Eisav’s visceral reaction, to retreat in the face of this hallowed responsibility, was itself a tacit insult to the position. His reluctance revealed a fundamental lack of appreciation for the cosmic significance of representing humanity in serving Hashem.

Upon reaching the organization, I offered the fact that I do have a car, would love to be involved, but didn’t know how often I could volunteer. As I spoke, I quickly added that I’d be making a chasunah in a few weeks, then Yom Tov was coming, and afterward, I was planning to visit my mother in the States.

“So in November, I’d love to be involved,” I concluded, feeling rather foolish.

To her credit, the organizer didn’t flinch. “I’ll be in touch in November. And don’t be afraid to say no if it doesn’t work out for you.”

We see from here that one of the principal differences between Eisav and Yaakov was in their attitude toward accepting responsibility for others. While Eisav was busy fleeing from the burden of representing others in serving Hashem, Yaakov was bargaining for more.
Yaakov recognized that accepting responsibility for others is a transformative undertaking that endows one with the strength and capabilities necessary to succeed despite the risks and dangers involved. Assuming responsibility itself engenders and breeds success, making failure no longer a concern. 
We must seek to emulate the example of Yaakov Avinu. We should eagerly undertake additional responsibility for others, in each of the three primary realms of Torah, avodah, and chesed. In that way, we’ll achieve our individual potential and collectively realize our national destiny.

November arrived and I got several phone calls. And sure enough, each time I had to pass. There were dentist appointments scheduled, then a flat tire, and so many reasons why it just wouldn’t work for me again. I felt so ridiculous, I wanted to take my name off the list of volunteers already.

But one bright morning, my schedule was open, and I was thrilled to get a request to drive someone to Hadassah Hospital. After that, another trip worked out, and then another.

I’ve met Orit and Chani, and a woman I dubbed Savta Simcha. These women were dealing with so much stress and pain on a daily basis, but were still so upbeat and gracious, inspiring me in the short time we had together. I’ve learned my lesson how valuable it is to try to step up and volunteer.

Have car. Will travel. Hopefully ever higher.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 819)

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