Monday, October 27, 2008

Esav the Apostate

Rabbi Chiya bar Avin said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan that an idolater inherits his father according to Torah law! This is apparent from the verse, “For an inheritance to Esav I gave Mount Seir.”

The Gemora asks: Perhaps an apostate Jew, suchas Esav, is different (and this law does not apply to a genuine gentile)?

The Gemora answers: Rather, the proof is from the verse, “For to the children of Lot I gave Ar as an inheritance.”

Rabbeinu Bachye writes that Esav was considered an apostate because he was the child of the Forefathers, but yet, he did not follow in their path.

Reb Tzadok HaKohen writes that he was regarded as an apostate because he was not circumcised. Although the Chasam Sofer (responsa Y”D 245) writes that this was because he was red (Admoni) and that exempted him from performing this mitzvah (on account of the danger), this argument can be rejected because before the Giving of the torah, there was no commandment of “You shall live by the mitzvos,” and therefore, even though there was a health concern, he still would have been obligated to be circumcised.

In the sefer Torascha Shashuay, he explains why Yaakov was allowed to say, “I am Esav, your first-born” based upon the fact that Esav was an apostate. Accordingly, it would have been forbidden for Yitzchak to eat from Esav’s shechitah. The halachah is that one is permitted to lie in order to prevent someone else from transgressing a prohibition. If one is allowed to lie for the sake of peace, he certainly can lie to protect someone from sinning!

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