Much Better Than a 15% TipBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
Being the peace-loving type, Yitzchak had no objections to burying the hatchet with Avimelech and the people of Gerar. He prepared a feast and everybody ate and drank. The next morning, they swore a pact and parted peacefully. That very day, Yitzchak’s servants informed him that they had struck water in a well they had been digging. Yitzchak called the well Shiva (meaning both “seven” and “oath”) and the place Be’er-Sheva (“well of seven” as per Avraham’s seven sheep in Genesis 21:30, as well as “well of the oath” referring to his own actions there). This may have been one of Avraham’s original wells that Yitzchak re-dug, or it may have been a new well, but in any event, Yitzchak called the whole district Be’er-Sheva and the name stuck.
Eisav was 40 years old when he married a woman named Yehudis (Judith) and one named Basmas, both Hittites. (This really flew in the face of the length to which Avraham went to ensure that Yitzchak did not marry women from the Canaanite nations.) The women were a source of constant aggravation to Yitzchak and Rivka.
Yitzchak was getting older and he decided to put his affairs in order before he died. (At 123, he was nearing the age at which his mother died and he had no idea how much time he had left.) Yitzchak called Eisav and told him to go trap a deer and prepare him some venison the way he liked it. Yitzchak would then eat it and give Eisav a blessing. Rivka overheard this and she knew that she had to intervene. Not only could she see through the pious facade that Eisav presented to Yitzchak, she knew from G-d’s prophecy that Yaakov was the son chosen by G-d to carry the line of Avraham.
Rivka called Yaakov and told him to get some goats; she would prepare them the way Yitzchak liked and he wouldn’t know the difference. Then, Yitzchak would bless Yaakov rather than Eisav.
This concerned Yaakov. Yes, Yitzchak was nearly blind, but what if he touched Yaakov, who was smooth? Yitzchak would know that he wasn’t the hairy Eisav! Yaakov was afraid that his father might curse him for attempting to deceive him! “Don’t worry,” Rivka reassured him. “If he does, it’ll be on my head.” So, Yaakov got the goats and Rivka prepared them. She dressed Yaakov in Eisav’s clothes and put the goat skins on Yaakov’s arms and neck in order to simulate Eisav’s hairiness. Yaakov brought the stew his mother had prepared to his father.
Yitzchak heard someone enter his tent and, being nearly-blind, asked who it was. Yaakov replied, “I, Eisav your firstborn.” (Because of the way the verb “to be” is usually implied but unstated in Hebrew, the words “anochi Eisav b’chorecho” can mean both “I am Eisav your first born” or “It is I; Eisav is your firstborn.” The latter is not untrue, but Yitzchak naturally assumed the former.) Yitzchak asked how his son could have accomplished his task so quickly and Yaakov replied that it was through G-d’s help.
This through up the warning signs, since Eisav was not in the habit of invoking G-d. Suspicious, he told his son to come closer so he could feel him. Yitzchak rubbed to goatskins on Yaakov’s arms and said, “The words are Yaakov’s but the hands are Eisav’s!” Satisfied, Yitzchak ate his meal and blessed Yaakov.