At the end of the previous Parasha, Rashi explains that Avraham, prior to his death, was fearful to give, to his son Yitzchak, the Divine Blessings he received from Hashem. His fear was that Esav might receive those powerful blessings that would enable him to reign on the world. Therefore, he chose to return them to Hashem rather than giving them to his son. Then the Pasuk states that Hashem blessed Yitzchak and gave him those Divine blessings.
Obviously, Yitzchak was aware of his father’s fear since he refused to give him those blessings. Why then, when it came time to pass on the Divine blessings, he still decided to give them to Esav? This was clearly against his father’s will. How is it that the most obedient son that ever existed, who was ready to give his life to his father without any complaint, will jeopardize the future of Am Israel by giving the most powerful blessings to Esav? That’s exactly what Avraham wanted to avoid.
Additionally, the chain of events that led Yitzchak Avinu to give the Divine blessing to Yaakov, raises difficulties. Yitzchak asked Esav to prepare him a meal in order to receive the blessing; Rivka overhears and tells Yaakov to take his brother’s place; Yitzchak is fooled and gives the blessing to Yaakov. He soon realizes his mistake, but though he “trembled greatly” (Bereshis 27,33), though, he did not retract the blessing from Yaakov. We must clarify:
1. What did Yitzchak see in Esav, that would make him deserve the blessings?
2. How did Rivka allow herself to act with such a level of deception? is lying allowed in order to ensure that her “justice” prevails?
3. The Patriarchs were all shepherds, how is it possible that Yitzchak mistaken goat hair with human hair?
4. When Yaakov brought the meal his mother prepared, Yitzchak said, “The voice is the voice of Yaakov, but the arms are those of Esav” (27,22). When faced with such a dilemma usually a person follows what he authenticates; in that case the voice. Especially, when the action carries a tremendous responsibility, such as transmitting the most powerful blessings that will provide the control of the world till the end of time. Surely, it is required to be assured they are provided to the correct individual. Why then Yitzchak remitted them without such assurance?
The Pasuk explains that Yitzchak agreed to bless Yaakov only after he smelled the fragrance of his garments. The Pasuk states: “See, my son’s fragrance is like that of a field blessed by Hashem.” (27,27). This notion of the “field” is mentioned several
times in the Torah and needs to be explained in order to understand Yitzchak’s rationales to agree to provide the Divine blessing.
Parashas Chayei Sarah relates: When Eliezer returned from Aram with Yitzchak’s future wife Rivka, “Yitzchak went out to meditate in the field before evening…” (24,63). It was there, as the sun flickered into twilight, that Yitzchak instituted the Mincha prayer. It was also precisely then that Rivka arrived on Eliezer’s camels, and saw this man raising his arms heavenward in prayer. She immediately asked: “Who is that man walking in the field towards us?” (verse 65). Rivka then fell from the camel.
The Zohar Parashas Pikudei explains: Yitzchak went out to pray as bad edicts were decreed on the world. The Pasuk does not mention clearly the type of decrees. Though they are hinted in the word “Camel”, as this refers to the female of the angel of death. She is responsible for poverty in all shape and forms, whether it affects only an individual to make him lose his wealth, or an entire nation who will suffer famine. Yitzchak wanted then to annul those bad decrees with his prayer. Rivka, by throwing herself off the camel, intended to help her future husband and weaken the decrees.
The Pasuk states another instance where the fields are mentioned: “Esav was an expert in hunting, a man of the field…” (25,27). It was obviously not the type of field to which Yitzchak was so attached. Esav’s field, as the Zohar recounts; were filled with immorality, adultery, theft and murder. They were the very opposite type of field his father Yitzchak was seeking.
Another instance where fields are mentioned: “You shall set aside every year a tenth part of all the yield of your sowing that is brought from the field.” This Pasuk instructs the Mitzva of Maaser. (Devarim 14:22). The Mishna in Pirkei Avos (3,13) explains: “Rabbi Akiva said: Merriment and frivolity accustom one to sexual licentiousness; Tradition is a fence to the Torah; Tithes are a fence to wealth, Vows are a fence to abstinence; A fence to wisdom is silence.” In other words, giving Maaser prevents decrees of poverty and assure wealth as the Gemara explains. Though according to that explanation, the language of the Mishna is difficult. it shouldn’t say that “Tithes are a fence to wealth” as this underlines that it prevents wealth, rather it should’ve said “Tithes are a bridge to wealth”.
The Zohar explains that Hashem divided the ruling powers of the world into 2 fields, one of Saintliness and one of impurity, and they’re in a constant conflict amongst them in order to rule the world. Therefore, in the first instance mentioned above; Yitzchak went to pray in the Field of Saintliness in order to reinforce it as its counterpart was about to win the control of the world and bring havoc. But Esav with his bad deeds was sustaining the Field of impurity. So, father and son were waging war to each other by proxy. Though, both were considered “Man of the Field”, as both were committed to defend their field.
This enhances our wonder about Yitzchak’s decision to give the Divine blessing to Esav, especially knowing he was defending the field of impurity, the very one Yitzchak and his father Avraham have tried to defeat their lifelong.
The episode where Yitzchak requested from Esav to go out and hunt some game and to prepare it into a delicious meal, was not out of envy to eat “good food”. Rather, as the Zohar indicates, his intentions were very noble. The only purpose was to rectify the terrible sin of Nimrod, who also was a great hunter with tremendous powers, but he directed them away from Hashem; he actually made himself into a human god! Yitzchak’s dream was to “taste” Hashem’s Name at the hands of his hunter son, and thereby to rectify Nimrod’s evil.
Yitzchak hoped that the prospective of receiving the Divine blessings would entice Esav to change his ways, as he desired very badly. So that his great strengths that until then were focused solely on pursuing the bad, would now be refined and turned towards the service of Hashem. Esav knew that his father’s Divine blessing was way more powerful than Avraham’s, as Yitzchak had accumulated a tremendous stock of spiritual powers when, bound up on the altar, he willingly bared his neck to his father’s knife, despite that Hashem never request him to do so. Yitzchak felt these forces bursting forth, and the one who will receive these exalted blessings, him and his descendants will forever reign on the entire world.
Yishmael had 12 sons, Esav had 12 sons and Yaakov too had 12 sons. Had Yishmael been a tsaddik he would’ve deserved to have the 12 tribes, and so for Esav as they were Yaakov’s elders. However, since they were far from being tsaddikim Yaakov merited to have the 12 tribes and be the father of the people of Israel.
So, when Yitzchak heard the name of Hashem in the mouth of his son and him talking politely “Arise, please; sit and eat,” and “Hashem your G-d was with me” (27, 19-20), and then smelt the fragrance of Gan Eden on him, he was sure that Esav did a complete Tshuva, and now deserves the blessings as stated in the Pasuk: “Yitzchak smelled the fragrance of his garments and blessed him, and said, ‘See, my son’s fragrance is like that of a field blessed by Hashem” (verse 27). The smell of Gan Eden forced Yitzchak’s blessing to burst forth: “May Hashem grant you from the dew of the heavens and the fat of the earth, much grain and wine” (verse 28). Yitzchak thought he was blessing Esav as he had made a complete turnabout.
The Zohar explains: that Esav had killed Nimrod and took away those cloths from him. These were the clothing that Hashem had Himself made for Adam. Needless to mention that they provided tremendous powers, and they are the reason Nimrod reigned on the entire world. Though, when a Rasha wore those they would not exalt any smell, but when a Tsadik wore them they would exalt the smell of their original place, “Gan Eden”. That’s
the reason Yitzchak had thought Esav had made Tshuva, since the cloths had their original fragrance.
In truth, it was not so, but since Yaakov and Esav were twins, the sound of their voice was identical. So, when Yitzchak referred to the Voice of Yaakov, it only meant that now Esav used the same language as Yaakov, as this was the only difference amongst them. The Midrash says that even their appearance was identical, it was impossible by looking at Esav, to discern that he was a Rasha, he dressed liked a frum Jew! The only giveaway was his language.
Therefore, when Yitzchak realized the truth, he had no regrets giving the blessings to Yaakov, whose fragrance is as of a Divinely-blessed field; on the contrary, he says about Yaakov, “He will also be blessed.” Why then did he “tremble greatly” (verse 33)? The Zohar says, that when Esav entered, Yitzchak saw the Gehinom before him. He then understood that he almost condemned the future of Bnei Yisrael by wanting to give the blessings to Esav. He then realized; Hashem had intervened to avoid a catastrophic mistake.
Though, Rivka knew all along that Yaakov was destined to receive the Divine blessing and to father the Bnei Yisrael. As when she was pregnant, she felt a struggle taking place within her womb, and “she went to seek a message from Hashem” (25,22). The message she received from Him was clear: “There are two nations in your womb, and two nations will separate from within you. They will struggle, and the greater will serve the younger” (25,23). In other words, Hashem had already announced her that the youngest will be the one that should receive the blessings, as he will reign over his brother.
The Zohar explains the reason Rivka requested from Yaakov to select 2 identical lambs: R. Yehuda said: “This is an allusion to the fact that Yaakov’s children will, in the future, sacrifice two goats on Yom Kippur – one for Hashem, and one for Azazel.” In other words, Rivka wanted to awaken Yitzchak that Esav and Yaakov may look like Siamese twins, but one was totally for Hashem and the other one was completely for the Yetzer Hara.
Yeshayahu the prophet, instructs us that Mashiach, will discern who is a righteous, not by sight or hearing as it’s usually done in a Beth Din: “He will have fear of Hashem in his sense of smell; not by what he sees will he judge, nor will he rebuke by what he hears” (Yeshayahu 11,3). Rav Shalom Schvadron from Mir Yeshiva, used to say, Esav also had a Shtreimel and a long jacket, he only appeared to be frum! Adults hide behind their appearance.
By Rabbi Fridmann * email@example.com * 305.985.3461
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