The Power of Speech by Rabbi Josh Kahn


“The best defense is a good offense” is a saying that is generally used in the context of military or sports strategy, yet also relates very well to Parashat Toledot. As Yitzchak prepares to give the special Berachah to his son, the Torah describes the dramatic exchange between him and Ya’akov. Ya’akov appears in front of Yitzchak, dressed in Eisav’s clothing and covered in hair to give off the feel of Eisav. As Ya’akov draws close to Yitzchak, Yitzchak feels Ya’akov and remarks, “HaKol Kol Ya’akov, VeHayadayim Yedei Eisav,” “The voice is the voice of Ya’akov, but the hands are the hands of Eisav” (BeReishit 27:22). Following this observation, Yitzchak then proceeds to give Ya’akov the blessing. This exchange is puzzling, though, because Yitzchak does not seem to have clarity regarding which son is in front of him. If he is unsure, why does he proceed to give the blessing anyway?

Rav Yoel Shurin, the Potlava Illui, answers the question by referring to the saying of Chazal that as long as the voice of Ya’akov is strong, the hands of Eisav cannot interfere. In this instance, where the voice of Ya’akov was strong, the hands of Eisav did not cause Yitzchak to hesitate. Although Yitzchak should have been confused, this confusion did not prevent him from blessing Ya’akov, since the voice was the voice of Ya’akov. This idea provides us with two powerful lessons to consider. Firstly, we are blessed with an amazing tool: the power of our voice. Whether that voice is used to learn Torah, engage in meaningful and passionate Tefillah, or be friendly and sensitive to people around us, our voice is our strength. Secondly, we often tend to look at others around us, whether because we are jealous of their talents or to compare ourselves to them. Instead of getting caught up in being too much like Eisav, Ya’akov allowed his voice to come through. This is because, ultimately, he did not need the hands of Eisav. As long as the voice was the voice of Ya’akov, the hands of Eisav became irrelevant. This ability to create our own destiny is the greatest gift we can have. The confidence to know that inside each of us, we possess the gift that is great enough to defeat any enemy is a reassuring and empowering thought. Like Ya’akov, we must have the self-confidence to actualize this tool of our voice and use it to bring Berachah to our nation.

The Power of Sight by Yehuda Feman

A Proper Mindset by Aaron Fishkind