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Shabbat Parashat Toldot| 5763

A Yiddishe Mama, After All

One of the most vexing questions regarding the tricky way which Ya’akov received his father’s blessing involves Rivka’s behavior. We understand that she had a prophesy that Ya’akov must be the dominant carrier of the family legacy and deserved the blessing. What is hard to understand is why she couldn’t confront Yitzchak and invoke Hashem’s word to correct his view on the matter.
One can suggest a simple psychological insight with significant implications. Presumably, Yitzchak would have had no alternative but to accept Rivka’s prophecy and, thus, take away the blessing from Eisav. The Torah and Midrashic literature are full of references to the sincere reverence that Eisav had for his father and to his efforts to please his father. Had Yitzchak been forced to “stab Eisav in the back,” Rivka feared that her older son, whom she did love (see Bereishit 27:45; 28:5), if differently from Ya’akov, would be ruined emotionally and might break from his father. Even though she saw through his spiritual superficiality, she felt that it was crucial that the connection to his father be preserved, even at the cost of the trickery and danger to Ya’akov which resulted.
It is interesting to note that throughout the Torah, the connection between Ya’akov’s descendants and Eisav’s remains as brothers. Introducing his request to pass through Edom’s land, Moshe says: ”So says your brother Israel” (Bamidbar 20:14). We are told not to despise the Edomite, for he is our brother (Devarim 23:8). As strained and even bitter as the two nations’ historical relationship was, there still was a latent level of kinship which Rivka foresaw and, perhaps, preserved. Both felt linked to each other through the legacy of their father.
It is also interesting to note, historically, that the spiritual descendants of Eisav feel linked to the spiritual legacy of their brothers, Israel, even as they alter it to fit their needs. They do not reject outright the legacy or the Jews’ historical connection to G-d’s word as do the descendants of Yishmael and the other sons of Avraham, whom Avraham sent away to prevent them from inheriting from him (Bereishit 21:14; 25:6).
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