A Family Divided by Ely Winkler

(2004/5765) This week’s Parsha contains the famous story of
Yaakov tricking his father into thinking that he was Esav in
order to receive the Brachot of the firstborn.  This story has
led many people to numerous conclusions, including that the
Jew is always dishonest.  However, a careful study of the
Pesukim sheds a different light on this topic.  The story begins
with Yitzchak asking Esav to go hunt for game to serve to him
before he gives the Brachah.  Rivkah overhears this
conversation and begs Yaakov to go to Yitzchak as an
imposter and receive the blessings first.  Yaakov reluctantly
agrees and allows his mother to prepare foods and to dress
him up to go to his father posing as Esav. After verifying that
this person bringing his food is indeed “Esav,” Yitzchak does
bestow the sacred blessing on Yaakov right before the real
Esav comes home from the hunt.
To understand Rivkah’s reasoning, we must first look
at the original fight between Rivkah and Yitzchak.  This fight
was over two elements that were represented by Yaakov and
Esav.  Yitzchak saw the material power in Esav, while Rivkah
saw the spiritual power in Yaakov.  Both factors were
necessary for the future of Bnai Yisrael.  Yitzchak might have
believed that the promise of Hashem was supposed to be
carried on by both Esav and Yaakov as brotherly nations
complementing each other.  Therefore, he planned on giving
Esav a blessing of material content, and one of spiritual
content to Yaakov.  Rivkah, on the other hand, knew from her
brother and her own upbringing that such a division would
fail.  She recognized the curse that arises out of materialism
without spirituality.  Rivkah, unlike Yitzchak, saw Yaakov with
both of these forces in his hands.

Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch explains that we
must accept the words of our Talmudic sages to
understand this story. We also must not try to overlook
anything about the events recorded here.  Rav Hirsch
examines what Rivkah thought she would gain by
sending Yaakov in as an imposter.  She knew from the
beginning that Yaakov would not be able to hide what he did
for long.  Esav was scheduled to return, and there was no
way to keep Yaakov’s actions a secret.  Accordingly, if this
was a blessing that Hashem was to give through
Yitzchak, how could Rivkah expect Hashem to bless
someone receiving it by trickery?  How could the
blessing of Avraham, which was then passed to
Yitzchak, move on to the next generation through an
imposter?  Also, if this blessing also had some kind of
legal status to it, how could Rivkah expect the status to be
binding?  The Brachah would have been given under
false pretences, and could be repealed!
Rav Hirsch explains that Rivkah had very
different intentions.  She really wanted to prove to
Yitzchak that he was mistaken about who should be
receiving this blessing.  If Yaakov, a person unlearned in the
ways of the world, could so easily trick Yitzchak to
believe he was the material son Esav, than how easily
could Esav, a cunning hunter, trick Yitzchak into thinking that
he was the learned one!  This explanation is proven by the
words that Yitzchak himself says in his conversation with
Esav, “...he shall even be blessed!”  Yitzchak does not take
away Yaakov’s blessing here; in fact, he validates it.
When Yitzchak was forced to come to terms with
how short Esav fell in terms of spiritual insight, and when he
found out that Esav had rejected his destiny by selling his
birthright, he was convinced that Rivkah was right.  He
therefore validated Yaakov’s blessings, and recognized
Yaakov as the sole spiritual inheritor of the blessings.
It is true that it is forbidden to disobey the Torah
even at the request of a parent, but Yaakov saw in his
mother’s demand an aspect of prophetic wisdom that
convinces him to listen to her.  There are times when the
rules, if prophetically stated, can be pushed aside for a
greater purpose.  Yaakov’s actions were directly in
conflict with his true essence that opposed all falsehood,
cheating, and dishonesty. 

This week’s Parsha contains the famous story of
Yaakov tricking his father into thinking that he was Esav in
order to receive the Brachot of the firstborn.  This story has
led many people to numerous conclusions, including that the
Jew is always dishonest.  However, a careful study of the
Pesukim sheds a different light on this topic.  The story begins
with Yitzchak asking Esav to go hunt for game to serve to him
before he gives the Brachah.  Rivkah overhears this
conversation and begs Yaakov to go to Yitzchak as an
imposter and receive the blessings first.  Yaakov reluctantly
agrees and allows his mother to prepare foods and to dress
him up to go to his father posing as Esav. After verifying that
this person bringing his food is indeed “Esav,” Yitzchak does
bestow the sacred blessing on Yaakov right before the real
Esav comes home from the hunt.
To understand Rivkah’s reasoning, we must first look
at the original fight between Rivkah and Yitzchak.  This fight
was over two elements that were represented by Yaakov and
Esav.  Yitzchak saw the material power in Esav, while Rivkah
saw the spiritual power in Yaakov.  Both factors were
necessary for the future of Bnai Yisrael.  Yitzchak might have
believed that the promise of Hashem was supposed to be
carried on by both Esav and Yaakov as brotherly nations
complementing each other.  Therefore, he planned on giving
Esav a blessing of material content, and one of spiritual
content to Yaakov.  Rivkah, on the other hand, knew from her
brother and her own upbringing that such a division would
fail.  She recognized the curse that arises out of materialism
without spirituality.  Rivkah, unlike Yitzchak, saw Yaakov with
both of these forces in his hands.

Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch explains that we
must accept the words of our Talmudic sages to
understand this story. We also must not try to overlook
anything about the events recorded here.  Rav Hirsch
examines what Rivkah thought she would gain by
sending Yaakov in as an imposter.  She knew from the
beginning that Yaakov would not be able to hide what he did
for long.  Esav was scheduled to return, and there was no
way to keep Yaakov’s actions a secret.  Accordingly, if this
was a blessing that Hashem was to give through
Yitzchak, how could Rivkah expect Hashem to bless
someone receiving it by trickery?  How could the
blessing of Avraham, which was then passed to
Yitzchak, move on to the next generation through an
imposter?  Also, if this blessing also had some kind of
legal status to it, how could Rivkah expect the status to be
binding?  The Brachah would have been given under
false pretences, and could be repealed!
Rav Hirsch explains that Rivkah had very
different intentions.  She really wanted to prove to
Yitzchak that he was mistaken about who should be
receiving this blessing.  If Yaakov, a person unlearned in the
ways of the world, could so easily trick Yitzchak to
believe he was the material son Esav, than how easily
could Esav, a cunning hunter, trick Yitzchak into thinking that
he was the learned one!  This explanation is proven by the
words that Yitzchak himself says in his conversation with
Esav, “...he shall even be blessed!”  Yitzchak does not take
away Yaakov’s blessing here; in fact, he validates it.
When Yitzchak was forced to come to terms with
how short Esav fell in terms of spiritual insight, and when he
found out that Esav had rejected his destiny by selling his
birthright, he was convinced that Rivkah was right.  He
therefore validated Yaakov’s blessings, and recognized
Yaakov as the sole spiritual inheritor of the blessings.
It is true that it is forbidden to disobey the Torah
even at the request of a parent, but Yaakov saw in his
mother’s demand an aspect of prophetic wisdom that
convinces him to listen to her.  There are times when the
rules, if prophetically stated, can be pushed aside for a
greater purpose.  Yaakov’s actions were directly in
conflict with his true essence that opposed all falsehood,
cheating, and dishonesty.

Tidbits of Veyetzei by Mr. Arthur Poleyeff – Principal for General Studies

Avraham Jr. by Willie Roth