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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Toldot


Rabbi Stewart WeissKIslev 1 5779
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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.
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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