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What Does Evil Look Like?

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
It’s difficult to explain to our children, and sometimes even to ourselves, that evil does not always look ugly and frightful. We imagine that Esav was the violent type, brutal and repugnant because it’s easiest to imagine him that way. This helps us to spot him in the street and to put distance between us. But Rav Eliyahu Dessler, in the book “Michtav M’Eliyahu,” writes that Esav was an impressive spiritual leader: “Esav is the founder of the school of hypocrites that remains with us until today. It was Esav’s innovation to violate every commandment and yet appear, to all the world, as an honorable man, untouched by scandal. This so-called gentleman is a complete lie, and everything he does is meant to promote and protect his inauthentic life of lies.”
We hear about such honorable and appealing, yet fake, gentlemen until today. It is for this reason that our parasha comes along to remind us to check if the gentlemanly individual we see in front of us is all that he appears to be. We need to examine him to see what may be hidden beneath his personal charm and charisma, and not be blinded by external appearances.


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