When Yaakov was impersonating Eisav in order to receive Yitzchak's blessings, he politely asked his father to "please stand up". The verse states that when Yitzchak heard this, he immediately became suspicious of his son's true identity (27:22). Rashi explains that what aroused Yitzchak's suspicion was the fact that Yaakov spoke respectfully and said "please". Eisav, on the other hand, always simply said "stand up" when he wanted his father to rise.

How can this be? The Zohar states that (for whatever reason) Eisav mastered the mitzvah of Kibud Av (doing acts of honoring one's father) to the greatest degree in history (Chelek Alef: 146). In fact, even great Ta'naim (Talmudic Sages) attest that as hard as they tried to excel in this area, their actions of honoring their father never rivaled the incredible actions performed by Eisav (B”R 65:12,13). If so, how could it be that the very same man who performed legendary acts of love and respect for his father, never expressed it verbally; so much so that Yitzchak was surprised to even hear the word “please” from him? Is it possible for someone to love and respect another through actions, and yet, to never articulate his love through the art of speech?

Almost everyone remembers where they were on September 11th, 2001, when they heard the tragic news: The Twin Towers, in a brazen act of terror, had been hit by an airplane. The victims who worked within The Towers suffered one of three tragic fates. The victims whose offices were directly impacted by the plane, perished immediately. The people below the impact, did their best to escape the tower before it collapsed. The people on the floors above the collision, however, had nowhere to run. With no hope of escape, they were forced to wait within the building until the very end. Many people took advantage of those final moments to call their loved ones and say goodbye. Frank, was one such man. He called his wife repeatedly, desperately wanting speak to her during his final moments. Unfortunately, she had left her phone at home that day while she was doing carpool. With no other choice, he shared with her his innermost feelings, the things he had always meant to say but never did, on a voicemail that she only heard when she arrived home. By that time, the tower had already collapsed and it was too late.

It is abundantly clear from this episode that while Eisav clearly valued ACTIONS of Kibud Av, he apparently attributed very little importance to the need to express Kibud Av VERBALLY. No matter how you look at it, this fact is unavoidable. However, when one really thinks about it, he will find that this behavior is not so perplexing after all. In fact, this phenomenon is actually quite common until this very day. For often, we too put tremendous value on ACTING with love and respect towards the people who are important to us, but tend to give very little value to frequently COMMUNICATING our love, respect and appreciation. Often we don't even realize that we are falling short in this area...until it's too late.

Living Inspired

People have an uncanny knack of procrastinating the conversations that are most important to them. Whether to our spouse, child, parent etc. there are things that we all want and need to say, and yet, we continue to wait for the "right time". The only problem is that, apparently, the "right time" doesn't seem to come up all that often.

If even Eisav, the man who honored his father to the greatest degree in history, didn't put enough stress on articulating his feelings of love and respect towards him, how much more so should we suspect ourselves of following his example? We too have so many people that we love dearly on the inside, but never actually express it outwardly, except, perhaps, through the occasional birthday or anniversary card. We expect that the important people in our lives know how much we value them because of the many acts of love that we do for them, and therefore we dismiss the idea of actually articulating our true feelings. Yet, we all know that if WE were on the upper floors of the World Trade Center on that fateful day, we would have many phone calls we would want to make and many things that we would desperately want to say. Expressive and constant communication is the secret to every vibrant and fulfilling relationship. May we all consider today the "right time".