Have Some Respect By Ezra Frazer


Throughout the early development of Yaakov and Eisav, Yitzchak always seems to be favoring Eisav. Rivkah, on the other hand, feels from the beginning that only through Yaakov will the traditions of Avraham and Yitzchak continue. This can already be seen at the time of Yaakov and Eisav's birth. Eisav comes out first, with Yaakov grabbing his heel, as if to pull him back in, and make himself the firstborn. We are then told "ויקראו שמו עשו," they, both parents, called him Eisav (בראשית כ"ה:כ"ה). Yaakov, however, whose name implies that he will slyly pull at the heel, is named only by Yitzchak שם( פסוק כ"ו). Apparently, Yitzchak viewed Yaakov's position at birth as a sign of Yaakov's acting to unfairly damage Eisav in the future. Rivkah, however, had already been told by Hashem that the younger son would rule )שם פסוק כ"ג(. Therefore, when Yaakov came out on Eisav's heel, Rivkah saw no need to give him a name which implied that he acted unfairly. Later in the Parsha, Yitzchak decides to give a Beracha to Eisav. There is a common belief that Yitzchak did this because he was tricked into loving Eisav, and he thus erroneously thought that Eisav, not Yaakov, would continue to fulfill the covenant with Hashem. In reality, though, the Torah goes out of its way to show that Yitzchak wasn't fooled at all. The final episode recorded before Yitzchak prepares to give this Beracha is Eisav's marriage. The Torah gives us three pieces of information about this. First, Eisav was 40 at the time, implying that he was trying to imitate Yitzchak, who married at age 40 (שם כ"ו:ל"ד). Second, despite their names (one was named Yehudis and the other was Bosmas, the same name as Yitzchak's niece) they were Hittites (שם). Finally, both Yitzchak and Rivkah were greatly upset (שם פסוק ל"ה). Obviously, then, Yitzchak saw through Eisav's facade of marrying at age 40, and he knew full well that Eisav wasn't really following in his footsteps! Yet, the very next Posuk describes Yitzchak summon Eisav to get blessed (שם כ"ז:א'). What was Yitzchak thinking? Apparently, Yitzchak somehow hoped that even if Eisav couldn't be the lone inheritor of his Bris with Hashem, maybe Eisav could find a way to share it with Yaakov. The only reason that this didn't happen was that Rivkah had received a Divine message that Yaakov alone would continue to maintain the Bris, and she thus had him "steal" the Beracha.

Essentially, Yitzchak had hoped for some sort of partnership between Yaakov, the איש תם, the simple man, and Eisav, the יודע ציד, the hunter in which there would be a place within the Bris of Hashem even for those who weren't necessarily capable of studying in a tent all day. In fact, such an arrangement eventually did work out according to the Midrashic interpretation of the relationship established later by Yissachar and Zevulun, where Zevulun earned money and supported Yissachar who studied Torah. Why could Zevulun fit into the Bris if Eisav could not? The answer is that there was a major difference between Zevulun and Eisav. Zevulun respected and recognized the importance of Torah study; because he found it difficult to study personally, however, he took his natural talent for business and used it for the benefit of those who do study Torah. Eisav had no interest in this. He didn't simply give away his religious status with the birthright; rather, the Torah states " ויבז עשו את הבכורה," Eisav totally rejected it (שם כ"ה:ל"ד). Someone like this has no place in a Bris with Hashem.

We must all make sure that even if we find Torah study too difficult to do on a full time basis personally, we must still always give it the proper respect. If we respect it, and use our own talents to serve Torah, we will be viewed as equal partners in the Torah with those who learn more. However, if we totally disregard it, than we are no better than Eisav, and have no place in the Bris with Hashem.

The above was adapted from a Shiur delivered by Rav Meir Goldvicht.


Yitzchak: The Man Of Peace by Mark Srulowitz

The Intent of the Berachos by Rabbi Neal Turk