Jacob the Liar (and other irregularities) by David Gertler


Truthfulness is Yaakov’s Midah, as the Pasuk says תתן אמת ליעקב.  This idea, though, is in conflict with the story of Yaakov’s taking the Beracha and with several other incidents in Yaakov’s life.

Yaakov tells Rivka that perhaps his father will touch him and “I will be in his eyes as a trickster.”  It appears from this Pasuk that Yaakov is not afraid of being a trickster, but of being discovered.  Furthermore, when Yaakov comes to Yitzchak, he says אנכי עשו בכורך עשיתי כאשר דברת אלי, “I am Esav your firstborn, I have done what you told me.”  Even if one accepts Rashi’s translation, “I am who I am (אנכי), and Esav is your firstborn (עשו בכורך),” this Pasuk is still difficult.  First, Yaakov is still being a trickster by saying something that is intended to be misinterpreted.  Second, he should have stopped speaking after the word בכורך, but instead he continued to say that Yitzchak had told him to do what he did.

There are many other perplexing questions that arise from this incident.  The letter ק in the word קצתי is small in the context of Rivka’s telling Yitzchak, “Woe unto my life if Yaakov take a wife from בנות חת” (27:46).  Also, when Yitzchak tells Esav to go hunt for his meal, the word ציד, game, is spelled with an extra ה (27:3).  I think that these can be tied together with the knowledge of two things: the prophecy of רב יעבד צעיר, that the elder will serve the younger, and the favoritism that Rivka and Yitzchak each show to one of their sons.

In last week’s Parsha, the word נערה in reference to Rivka is spelled without the feminine particle, the ה.  I think that the reason for this could be as follows: the Torah often relates the practices of society at that time that the Torah was written.  It was very common in Rivka’s society that women would be obsequious to men.  However, by connecting Rivka’s favoritism of Yaakov with the prophecy that Yaakov will rule over Esav, it is possible that the reason for the extra ה in צידה and the missing ה in נערה is that Rivka was very active in her life, more so than Yitzchak.  Most of what we know about their marriage is about and through Rivka.  The most we know about Yitzchak is that he loved Esav, which does not seem to endear him to us.

Yaakov is afraid of appearing as a trickster only because he knows his quest is righteous.  I think that this explains the small ק in קצתי.  The letter צ is very closely related to righteousness, the letter ת is the final letter in the word אמת, truth, and the letter י represents Hashem.  ק, on the other hand, is the middle letter of the word שקר.  The Gemara explains that the letters of the word שקר all come to a single point at the bottom because falsehood cannot stand.  However, in this case it was necessary for Yaakov to be a trickster and tell a small lie so that everything would work out for the best.  This lie eventually led to righteousness (צ), truth (ת), and knowledge of Hashem (י).


The Two Tefilot by Yehuda Turetsky

Why Me? by Rabbi Mark Smilowitz