A Complete Person by Simcha Schaum


This week's Parsha continues to present the story of the development of Yaakov's character. It is here that we find that Yaakov has become a more complete person by combining the physical aspect of his personality with his spiritual one in order to be able to survive and succeed in Lavan's home.

Initially, Yaakov was a completely spiritual person. He was thus described as an איש תם ישב אהלים, a simple man who sits in tents (בראשית כ"ה:כ"ז). Yaakov's life was inside the tent, in a sheltered environment. Although he led a good and moral life while learning Torah and doing Mitzvos, however, he lacked a certain physical aspect to his life. He was a good person, but he probably would not have been able to carry himself successfully outside of the tent, in the "real world." He was not like his brother, Eisav, who was a ידע ציד and an איש שדה, a man who knew hunting and a man of the field (שם). Eisav was a man of the outdoors, a man who was able to take care of himself in the outside world, and Yaakov was not.

It was Rivkah who realized that in order for Yaakov to be worthy of Yitzchak's Beracha, he must possess both spiritual and physical characteristics, in order for him and for future generations of Klal Yisrael to be able to take care of themselves. Rivkah thus made Yaakov take on something physical, represented by Eisav's clothing (שם כ"ז:ט"ו). Yaakov, at first, did not want to put it on; he did not want to leave his sheltered spiritual environment, but Rivkah knew that he, as well as Klal Yisrael in the future, would need this physical attribute in order to survive. When Yitzchak then felt and heard Yaakov, he was confused and said, "הקל קול יעקב והידים ידי עשו," "the voice is the voice of Yaakov but the hands are the hands of Eisav" (שם פסוק כ"ב). The voice comes from one's insides and Yaakov's voice symbolized his characteristic of being fully spiritual, staying inside the tent and not going out into the fields. On the other hand, the יד, the hand, is outside; it represents the physical nature of a person. With Yaakov's appearance here, the קול, the inside spirituality, and the יד, the outside physical aspect, were combined in one person; Yitzchak was confused because this was unlike either of his sons. He gave the Beracha to this "complete" son because this son seemed to possess both characteristics needed to become a complete human being. 

After Eisav found out about Yaakov's deception, Yaakov was forced to run away from his sheltered environment to Lavan, who wants to trick him, as described in our Parsha. Yaakov has thus moved from one extreme to another. He has now left his place of spirituality and gone to the place which stands for the opposite in Lavan's house, where he is constantly reminded of how important it is to have, but on the one hand, spirituality, but on the other hand, the ability to be physical and to take care of oneself outside of the sheltered environment that one is used to. This lesson is essential not only for Yaakov, but for Klal Yisrael throughout the ages, when we are constantly faced with new challenges and persecutions, yet are able to overcome them.


Leah's Eyes by David Miller

The Beis HaMikdash in Golus by Moshe Saltzman