Thursday, November 22, 2007

Va'Yishlah: making your mark

Parshat Va'Yishlah

The Torah goes through the children and grandchildren of Esav. In 36:12 it says "And Timna was the pilegesh (concubine) of Elifaz."

Rashi says this shows the greatness of Avraham, because Timna was from a very powerful family yet in order to attach herself to the family of Avraham, she was even willing to make herself into a concubine to Elifaz.

We saw a similar situation by Hagar. She was the daughter of the king of Egypt. She was a princess. Yet because she wanted to attach herself to Avraham and his family, she was willing to become a maidservant, rather than marry the great prospects she would have had otherwise.

Hagar becoming a maidservant is more understandable. She was actually in the house with Avraham. She saw his greatness and wanted to be in that environment.

Timna, however, was attaching herself to Avraham's family by becoming the mistress to Elifaz. He was a rasha, his father Esav was a rasha who spent much of his recent life hoping and trying to kill Yaakov - the one who really continued the path of Avraham.

By hanging out with Elifaz, how exactly is Timna absorbing the environment of Avraham?

It is really despite being with Elifaz and Esav. Even though Esav and Elifaz were evil, they were still the family of Avraham. Some greatness must have worn off onto them and they must have had traits of the family. TYimna was willing to put up with their bad, in order to absorb the good that remained from Avraham.

That is how strong an influence the head of a family, and really anybody, can have. if he leaves his mark on his family, on his community, on his surroundings, that mark can be mighty difficult to get rid of. Even in adverse situations, that influence, that mark, will remain.

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