Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Toldot
To dedicate this lesson



Rabbi Stewart Weiss

KIslev 1 5779
You make the call: I happen to see my neighbor's bank deposit slip with his account number. So I disguise myself & pretend to be him, & I go into his bank. I manage to fool the clerk as to my identity, & I withdraw $10,000 from his account. Later, the neighbor discovers the fraud & informs the bank. Do they let me keep the 10 grand?

Obviously not! So why, I ask you, does Yakov get to "keep" the bracha after Yitzhak learns it was all a sham & a scam? Why doesn't Yitzchak call it all back & right the wrong?

Next question: Who, in the end, will cause the blessing to come to fruition? Hashem, of course! Now, doesn't G-d see what's going on here, even if Yitzchak doesn't? Is G-d really prepared to affirm a bracha given under false pretenses, in violation of His own maxim: "Ayn Mitzva liy’day avera" - no Mitzva can be effected via a sin?

So what REALLY is going on here?

Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch offers a brilliant answer: Rivka, as we know, grew up in the same house as Lavan HaArami, Lavan the Trickster, the con man, the master swindler. Rivka can spot a scam & a phony a mile away, & she is absolutely convinced that Esav is not the person he appears - or pretends to be - for his father.

And so Rivka stages an elaborate play: Yakov the Scholar, the man of the spirit, acts as the rough 'n tough macho hunter, complete with hairy arms & "eua d' prairie." Esav the Physical becomes the sensitive, emotional, vulnerable child. And Yitzchak is duly fooled; he blesses Yakov ("Esav") with the prime Bracha. When the real Esav arrives, Yitzchak is aghast. He "trembles a mighty trembling: Who? Where?" What in the name of Nimrod is going on here? Suddenly, "the Asimon drops" & he has a revelation: "Just as I was fooled NOW, just as I misread the situation HERE, in this situation, so have I been off the mark about my twin boys all along!" And so, on the spot, even as Esav is pleading for "justice," Yitzchak affirms the Bracha he gave to Yakov: "Gam Baruch Hu - he shall remain blessed!"

Yitzchak, though blind, has seen the light; Rivka, the wise & wonderful producer, nods a knowing nod off-stage.

Still later, when the passion has died down, Yitzchak once again affirms his bracha to Yakov: "May G-d bless you & grant you 'Birkat Avraham'" i.e. you & ONLY you will continue the legacy of Am Yisrael begun by Avraham.The curtain goes down, & it's curtains for Esav.
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