In this week’s Parsha, one of thing we need to understand is why Yitzhok sent Eisav out to hunt for something – Yitzchok realized that Eisav was good with physicality, and he wanted to train Eisav how to harness that talent/hunger for physicality. For we are able to “capture” or “earn” and use physicality for Mitzvos. Think candle being burned, wax melting away, to create a flame that rises high. Physicality can be “burned” to create a fire of spirituality. Yitzchok therefore, says in Passuk Daled (verse 4):
“Make me a good-tasting food like I like it and bring it to me
and I will eat it so that my soul will bless you before I die.”
First obvious question: why is Yitzchok asking for tasty food that he likes?!
A mitzvah has to be done in the best way. Yitzchok is not asking for “juicy steak” dripping with barbecue sauce because he wants the taste of food. He wants Eisav to be busy with Chesed [kind acts] and Kibbud Av [honor of parents]. How is that done properly? Not by trying to do the minimum, but by putting in effort and thinking it through. Questions of “what does my father really like?” “How do I present food to guests in a really nice way?”
There was someone named Rebbetzin Newhouse, of blessed memory, who got a set of fine china, really expensive dishes, not because she wanted it for herself, but because she felt that when she had to host guests she wanted to do it regally, like a queen. One day, a painter was hard at work painting her home, and she realized he’d been working that many hours he must be famished. So she cooked him a gourmet lunch, put a tablecloth down, and served him, on her fine china. She put the effort and thoughts and did the Mitzva FULLY beautifully. That is what Yitzchok was trying to train Eisav to do – look at how he’s instructing him so we can learn how to do Chesed right – make sure the Chesed you are doing is one that the person will appreciate (food they will like), make sure you deliver it to the person you are doing it (bring it to them). Do it regally like Rebbetzin Newhouse, a queen in how you present your deeds.
Next question we should be asking in this verse is what is this talk about “soul blessing”? If Yitzchok wants to give a Bracha [blessing], give a Bracha. Why does he need all these preparations? If I want to bless you, all I have to do is open my mouth and say, “may you all merit to build beautiful Jewish homes”. There, I blessed you. Why did Yitzchok have to do all this charade of asking for steak in order to bless Eisav? The answer, according to Rabbeinu Bachya, can be found in the word “my soul” – Yitzchok wants to have Ruach HaKodesh [divine inspiration] while giving the Bracha – he doesn’t want to just bless, he wants Heaven to agree to the blessing.
Ayn Hashchina Shruya Elah Meetoch Simcha – there is no Ruach HaKodesh/divine inspiration unless a person is in a state of happiness (just an interesting point, you also cannot have Ruach HaKodesh while you are being lazy). We know that the Nevi’im [prophets] often listened to music to get to a point of Simcha so they could get Ruach HaKodesh. Why didn’t Yitzchok use music to try to get into that mode of happiness that would bring Ruach HaKodesh, and instead asks for food to do it? Music can be a very spiritual thing. Eisav, however, is lusting for a physical bracha. He doesn’t want to inherit Nevu’ah – he wants to inherit Eretz Yisroel, the land, and wants a blessing to be a rich person. So Yitzchok decides to use physical gifts (tasty food) rather than spiritual ones (like music) to get into a good frame of mind.
Okay, folks, there you have it. The quick lessons from this verse: we must train ourselves to do our utmost, perfect our kindness. We must learn to channel physicality to create spiritual fire. And we must remember to be in a state of happiness, whether using food or music or both, so that we can have a direct open line of communication to spirituality. Only with Simcha, come what may.
An interesting note to those who had a hard path in life or are in current stress situations, therapists often talk about a coping box/book, whereby you figure out what can put you into a better mood and help you cope through pain. Then use those things as tactics when stress is overwhelming. It’ll be different from person to person. Some girl I know, for her it is flowers that does it, smelling it and observing it. For others, it might be sitting in a patch of sun like a contented cat. For others, it might be massage. This week’s parsha seems to tells us the same thing is within spiritual realms — to get to a place of happiness, figure out the physicality that might get you there, for it will help you get to a greater place in spiritual connections. So, go ahead, if you need that herbal tea, or that dance around the room, or a good hearty humor chuckle — by all means, use it to pull out of any funk. As I said before, Only With Simcha, Come What May!