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A Deal for the Firstborn, a Restaurant Serving, or Holy Real Estate? – part II

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Rabbi Yossef Carmel

Kislev 7 5781
Last time we saw that Yaakov receiving the beracha to inherit Eretz C’na’an, which would become Eretz Yisrael, was connected to the fact that Eisav left the Land for the Land of Edom.

The disagreement between Rivka and Yitzchak as to who was the "chosen son" was not put to rest in Parashat Toldot with the berachot. Rather, a compromise was reached. On the one hand, Yitzchak, after mistakenly blessing Yaakov, now blessed him again. The blessing foresaw Yaakov as becoming a nation and receiving the "blessing of Avraham" for generations, "to inherit the Land that Hashem had given Avraham" (Bereishit 28:4). This means that Yaakov was chosen to be the son who inherited Avraham’s legacy.

On the other hand, Rivka and Yitzchak agreed that, presently, Yaakov would have to leave that Land and spend time with the family of his other grandfather, Betuel. That was not necessarily a bad sign, as he had important "business" there, to marry one of his cousins, instead of a girl from C’na’an (ibid. 2 & 6), a similar step as was done for Yitzchak.

If we are "keeping score," while Yaakov left the Land and married a more appropriate wife for family legacy, Eisav took, as a third wife, a granddaughter of Avraham (ibid. 9). However, the final decision on who had the upper hand occurred at Yaakov’s famous dream in the beginning of our parasha (ibid. 13-15). As Hashem set the rules and expectations of Yaakov’s return to the Land, his leaving the Land is framed as temporary and is not a sign of losing his hold on the inheritance of it. It is interesting that Hashem’s words of reassurance are similar to the promise He made to Avraham (compare Bereishit 12:2-3 with ibid. 28:13-15).

Hashem’s promise meant that even if he had to live in exile for decades, raise his family there, and deal with a deceitful father-in-law, Hashem eventually told him to return to the Land of C’na’an (see ibid. 31:13). After Hashem revealed Himself to Yaakov, Yaakov consulted with his wives and prepared to return. He was excited to tell Yitzchak that Hashem had, in Yaakov’s prophetic vision, confirmed Yitzchak’s blessings. (We point out that throughout history, in exile, Jews always followed Yaakov’s lead and awaited the time they would return to the Land, as we have in the last generations.)

The Torah does not discuss explicitly how Eisav acted in Yaakov’s absence. Did he take the opportunity to strengthen his claim to Eretz C’na’an? Did he try to fit into the role of a descendant of Avraham to earn that beracha? We do know that before Yaakov returned, Eisav already could be found in Se’ir, in the region of Edom, where his descendants would rule – outside of the Holy Land. So, to finish off what we started last week, the request of the red soup, which got him the name Edom, turned into Eisav’s agreement to settle outside the Land and not continue the legacy of Avraham, which is connected to the Land.

We pray that the realization that our nation and our Land are tightly interconnected will be fully recognized, as this is a basic premise of Tanach, the book whose kedusha a large part of the world accepts. Our connection is also a simple historical truth, and any blatant falsehoods that deny it should be utterly rejected.
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