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Yitzchak's Love for Eisav
By: SFW Students & Alumna
Devorah Teitelbaum (SFW '09)
In this week’s Parsha, Yaakov and Eisav are born to Rivka and Yitzchak. Finally, after twenty years of suffering, Hashem blessed them with children. Yaakov and Eisav grew up, and their personalities emerged. Eisav, the eldest became a hunter. He would trap, but not only in the literal sense. Eisav would ask his father questions that would make him look like a very pious person. Eisav earned his father’s love by serving him conscientiously. For example, Eisav would go out hunting in order that Yitzchak would have fresh meat to eat. Yaakov, on the other hand, is described by the Torah as an “Ish Tam.” He was a morally wholesome man who, according to Rashi, spent all of his days learning in the Yeshiva of Shem and Aver.
The Torah says that Yitzchak loved Eisav, and Rivka loved Yaakov. How could Yitzchak love Eisav if he was so evil? Didn’t Yitzchak know that Eisav was so evil? What did Yitzchak see in him?
The Lekach Tov states that Yitzchak knew that Eisav was so evil. However Eisav gave Yitzchak an enormous amount of respect and reverence, which showed that there was still hope for him. Therefore, the Posuk states the Yitzchak loved him.
The Posuk is worded in such a way that a deeper insight can also be gained. The Torah says that Yitzchak loved Eisav, but it does so in the past tense. Regarding Rivka and Yaakov, the Posuk is written in the present tense. Why is the Posuk written in two different tenses?
The answer to this question is that Rivka’s love for Yaakov was everlasting. In Yitzchak’s case, his love for Eisav was based on something tangible. We can learn from here that when a person loves someone else, it needs to be unconditional, or else it will not last.
A proof for this can be seen in Posukim later on in the Parsha. After Eisav hears that Yaakov tricked their father and he got the Bracha, he gets extremely upset. It says in the Posuk that Yitzchak trembled. The presence of Gehinnom that was with Eisav made Yitzchak realize that he had been deceived all along. Eisav was really a truly evil person. This made Yitzchak fear that he would be punished for having allowed himself to be so misled (Pesikta d’ Rav Kahuna). Nonetheless, Yitzchak blessed Eisav anyway. He had an “extra” Bracha in reserve, in case such a situation like this should arise.
By comparing the Brachot given to Yaakov and Eisav, we see that the wording is extremely similar. Yaakov’s Bracha included the words “and May Hashem give you dew of heavens and fatness of the earth” (27:28). By Eisav, the wording was “behold the fatness of the earth shall be your dwelling and the dew of the heavens” (27:39). Why was the phrasing of the two Brachot reversed?
Although the Brachot are similar, Yaakov definitely got the better of the two Brachot. According to the Chafetz Chaim, Yaakov was more spiritual, so the “dew of the heavens” came first, followed by “the fatness of the earth.” Due to the fact Yaakov focused on heaven and where things come from, he’s being given the “dew of the heavens,” which leads to the production of the “fatness of the earth.” Yaakov was blessed to see beyond what was in front of him, and he appreciated it and Hashem more. However, because Eisav was more into the physical desires, his Bracha focused on the physical aspect first. His “fatness” was his dwelling, as if he had been there all along, and he had absolutely no connection to its source.
We are given so many opportunities everyday. We really have to just stop and think about what we have, as opposed to what we do not have; and where it really came from. Only then can we truly be fulfilled, content, and satisfied.
May we all be zoche to recognize everything we have, just like Yaakov Avinu.
1: Parshat Shavua