Toldos – Shishi


By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Yitzchak blessed Yaakov with all the good things that Heaven and Earth have to offer. Nations would subjugate themselves to him and he would rule over his brother’s descendants. Those who curse him will be cursed, but those who bless him will be blessed.

Yaakov received his blessing and left. Eisav returned from hunting and entered soon after. He gruffly told his father to eat so he could receive his blessing. It didn’t take Yitzchak long to figure out what had happened and he started to tremble all over. He realized that Yaakov was the intended recipient of the blessing all along, so Yitzchak ratified his previous words and said that the blessing would remain with Yaakov. Eisav pleaded with his father for another blessing, but Yitzchak said, “What can I give you? I already promised your brother all the good in the world and made your descendants his servants!” Eisav wept loudly and begged for a blessing. Yitzchak came up with something he could give to Eisav: “You will live by the sword and serve your brother, but when he is unworthy of his blessing, you will cast off his dominion.”

Eisav departed, enraged at Yaakov. He resolved to wait until Yitzchak died and then kill his brother. (Yitzchak ended up living for many more years, but they didn’t know that would be the case.) Rivka decided that keeping Yaakov around Eisav was bad idea, so she sent him to go live with her brother Lavan in Charan. Rivka figured that it would only be a matter of time before Eisav calmed down and Yaakov could safely return. If Yaakov stuck around, she was afraid that she would lose both her sons. (Rashi suggests that Yaakov might kill Eisav in self-defense, only to have Eisav’s sons avenge him. Rashi also quotes the Talmud from Sotah 13a, that Rivka’s words contained an unwitting element of prophecy, since Yaakov and Eisav were buried on the same day. This author humbly submits that if Eisav had murdered Yaakov, he would have been irrevocably estranged from his mother, in which case she would be bereaved of him that way. This idea is not unlike the way David was estranged from his son Avshalom after the murder of Amnon in II Kings 13-14. Even after they were seemingly reconciled, the damage was irreparable.)

Rivka told Yitzchak that her life was miserable because of her Hittite daughters-in-law and that she could not bear to see Yaakov also marry a Canaanite woman. Yitzchak told Yaakov to go live with his grandfather Besuel and marry one of Lavan’s daughters, a nice girl from Padan Aram. He said that G-d will increase Yaakov’s family and, through him, He will fulfill His promise to Avraham.

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