“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;” 1 Corinthians 1:27
The difference between Eisav and Reuvain, among other things, was that Reuvain understood that the birthright was not his to sell. Nor were the dudaim (mandrakes) his to sell. The earth and its fullness is God’s, (Tehillin 24:1) and therefore, it is He who decides who has the firstborn rights, and who truly owns the mandrakes.
We are merely the guardians of this world, allowed the privilege of benefiting from its fullness.
Before the light of creation was hidden, one could never have doubted this or ever become confused about it. This is why the light had to be hidden, for had it remained revealed, free will would have been impossible. It is hidden, but not completely, for it is meant to be revealed through the actions of man, through a nation created to reflect that light.
When a person integrates this understanding, regenerated and symbolized by the thirty-six lights of Chanukah, one enters a realm beyond the ordinary, deceptive world of daily life. One enters the world of miracles, because it is the world of mesiros nefesh:
Rav Papa asked Abaye, ‘What was unique about the previous generation for whom miracles occurred, while for us they don’t?’ … He answered him, ‘They were self-sacrificing for the holiness of the Name.’ Brochos 20a
The essence of such self-sacrifice is knowing that there is more to life than meets the eye. It is in knowing that there is a “hand” above that moves things, people, events, world history towards an ultimate goal – the period of Moshiach. It is in knowing that one who usurps the will of God becomes a pawn in His master plan, not a forger of it. And finally, it is in knowing that there is no way to fulfill personal potential other than in making His will your own, by recognizing that His will is all that counts and that everything belongs to Him. This is expressed in the fantastic, wonderful world of thirty-six.