Perek Chuf-Zayin of Parshas Toldos
First thing we must understand is why Yitzhok sent Eisav out to hunt for something – Yitzchok realized Eisav was good with physicality, and he wanted to train Eisav how to learn to use the physicality we are able to “capture” or “earn” and utilize it for Mitzvos. So, Passuk Daled: 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 and Kibbud Av. How is that done properly? Not by trying to do the minimum, but by putting in effort. What does my mother really like? How do I present food to Orchim [guests] in a really nice way? There was someone named Rebbetzin Newhouse who got a set of bone china, which is 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. So, one day, while having a painter paint her home, she realized he’d been working so many hours he must be hungry. She cooked her house painter a gourmet lunch, put a tablecloth down, and served him, on her fine bone 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).
Next question we should be asking in this passuk is what is this about his soul doing the blessing? Yitzchok wants to give a Bracha, 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 fully Jewish homes”. There, I blessed you. Why did Yitzchok have to do all this 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 Heavens to agree to the blessing.
Ayn Hashchina Shruya Elah Meetoch Simcha – there is no Ruach HaKodesh unless a person is in a state of happiness (just an interesting point, you also cannot have Ruach HaKodesh while you are being lazy, but that is just a non-relevant interesting point that Rabbinu Bachya also notes). We know the Nevi’im often listened to music to get to a point of Simcha so they could access 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 wants a physical bracha. He doesn’t want to inherit Nevu’ah – he wants to inherit Eretz Yisroel, the land, and wants a bracha to be a rich person. So Yitzchok decides to try to use physical gifts (tasty food) rather than spiritual ones (like music) to get into a good frame of mind.
Passuk Hay: “And Rivka heard while Yitzchok was speaking to Eisav his son and Eisav went to the field to trap animals to bring”
Why does the passuk say “to bring”. Rashi – Eisav decided he was going to do whatever it takes to get the bracha – so he went out to try to trap an animal, with the thought, that if he were not successful, he would just steal – but somehow he would bring an animal home.
Passuk Vav: And Rivka said to Yaakov her son saying, behold I heard your father talking to Eisav your brother saying. Passuk Zayin: Bring back an animal for me and make me tasty food and I will eat it and I will bless you in front of Hashem before I die.
Rivka repeats what she had overheard. See something interesting in these Passukim – Rivka overheard Yitzchok speaking to Eisav HIS son and she speaks to Yaakov HER son. They were both of their sons!! Where you are putting your efforts belongs to you – you love what you put the most effort into and identify with it.
Rashi: why was it important to say the “in front of Hashem” bit when repeating the story to Yaakov? So that Yaakov should feel better that all will be done with Ruach haKodesh, which means if the bracha goes through for him, it means Hashem agrees it is the right thing.
Passuk Ches: And now my son, listen to my voice to what I command you
Yitzchok asks Eisav to do his bidding – Rivka COMMANDS Yaakov. Why did she have to command him? Because the only way Yaakov ends up doing the deception is because he feels he has no choice as his mother is demanding it, not requesting it, that she is insistent he must do it.
Passuk Tes: Please go to the sheep and take for me from there two young good kids and I will make them into tasty food for your father like he likes it.
Rashi: For me take the goats – it was not stealing – her kesuba gave her two kids per day. Why did Rivka want to use two goats — did Yitzchok have such a big appetite? It was Pesach and one was going to be used for a Korban Pesach
Passuk Yud: You will bring it to your father and he will eat in order that he will bless you before he dies. Passuk Yud Alef: And Yaakov said to Rivka his mother, Eisav is a hairy person and I am a smooth-skinned person. Passuk Yud Bays: Maybe my father will touch me and I will be in his eyes like a pretender and he will bring upon me a curse and not blessing.
If you look closely, the passuk recounts how Yaakov says that he will be “K’misahtayah” like a pretender. He isn’t saying, I am a pretender and might be found out. He is saying I might be viewed like one. Yaakov is not arguing that he doesn’t deserve the Bracha. He thinks he should get it. He just is arguing his father might not want to give it to him and will think he is wrong. Yaakov had bought the Bechorah , the rights of the firstborn, but he never told that to anyone. So he knew he deserved the Bracha. He just did not want to shame Eisav by telling his parents how Eisav sold those rights for a mere bowl of soup.
Passuk Yud Gimmel: And his mother said to him, upon me will come your curse, my son, just listen to my voice and go and take them for me.
Meforshim wonder how she could say this. Rashbam said she could say it because she knew there would be no curse because of the Nevuah she had before the twins were born. Even Ezra says that she did say it and mean it because women sometimes talk this way, but he quotes another Meforash who says that she is not saying she will take the curse but is saying she will take off the curse – -that he shouldn’t worry, she has sufficient power to remove any curse. Seforno, on the other hand, says this is the literal meaning – she is willing to take upon her own self any curse that might happen from this, just like Shlomo HaMelech once accepted upon himself someone else’s curse (Yoav’s).
Passuk Yud-Daled: And he went and he took and he brought to his mother and his mother made tasty food that his father loved.
Remember, Rivka had asked for two goats – one was a korban pesach. We are talking about infusing the food with Kedusha – that is the way to serve food for a Tzaddik. When cooking food for Shabbos it is a big thing to say “L’Kovod Shabbos Kodesh”, to put into the food spiritual energy. [I find it fascinating something else in this account – -that Rivka was a special wife, knowing precisely what kind of food and cooking her husband would appreciate most!]
Passuk Tes-Vav: And Rivka took the garments of Eisav her big son that were precious and were with her in the house and she dressed her younger son Yaakov
Rashi has two questions – which garment is this and what was it doing by Rivka? This was the Beged that Eisav got by way of murder of Nimrod. The cloak was originally Adam HaRishons. It was in Rivka’s safekeeping because Eisav married wicked women, and he knew that – and he didn’t trust them with his most precious things, giving them to his mother instead.
Ramban points out in this Passuk both sons are called “her son” with descriptive words of which was older and younger. This is to show us the greatness of Rivka, that she was doing the right thing, even though both were “her sons” and that many people favor older children over younger children – yet Rivka did what was right.
Passuk Tes-Zayin: And the skin of the goats she put on his hands and on part of his neck
Remember Eisav was very hairy, so she is doing this in case Yitzchok should feel the person serving him food and think something is off if the person is not hairy.
Passuk Yud-Tes: And Yaakov said to his father I. Eisav your first born. I did what you told to me. Get up please, lean and eat from my food in order your soul should bless me.
Rashi: he spaced the words so it could be misunderstood rather than an outright lie. He said, “I. Eisav. Your first born.”
Passuk Chaf: And Yitzchok said to his son, what is this that you hurried to find, my son, and he said, because Hashem happened it in front to me. Passuk Chaf-Alef: And Yitzchok said to Yaakov, come close and I will touch you my son, to see if you are my son Eisav or not”
RASHI: What did Yaakov say that tipped off Yitzchok he might not be Eisav? Yaakov talked about Shem Hashem, saying Hashem helped get him the food. He gave credit to a Higher Authority.
Sifsei Chachamin – so you could ask how could Yitzchok think Eisav was good if he knew without a shred of doubt that Eisav would not speak like this. He made excuses for Eisav not speaking B’Shem Hashem – he thought Eisav couldn’t use that language cause he was outside of “ohalim” and could not use G-d’s name in places he was forced to be.
Passuk Chaf-Bays: And Yaakov came close to Yitzchok his father, and he touched him and he said, the voice is the voice of Yaakov and the hands are the hands of Eisav.
RASHI: Because Yitzchok heard the refinement of Yaakov in the words “please get up” “hineni” and that wasn’t the way Eisav speaks (you’ll see later that Eisav says things like GET UP. BLESS ME. No please. No soft way of speaking.)
The Midrash says: Yaakov (the Jews) have power through their voice, Eisav through his hands. If the voice of Yaakov is Kal (see that the words in the Passuk is Hakol Kal – one word Kol is missing the Vav so it can be read Kal), if we neglect our davening and Torah learning, only then can the hands of Eisav be active against us.
Passuk Chaf-Gimmel: And he did not recognize him because his hands were like the hands of Eisav his brother, hairy, and he blessed him
Seforno: What blessing is this in this passuk? It is not the blessing to be given later, so what is going on with this blessing. We learn that if we ever suspect a fellow Jew of wrong-doing and find out we misjudged them (Choshed B’Kshayrim) we have to give them a blessing. So Yitzchok gives now a blessing for having suspected this guy was dressed up as someone else now that he had tapped his hands and found it to be like Eisav.
Passuk Chaf-Daled: And he said, is it you my son Eisav? And he said I.
Rashi: Note Yaakov did not say yes. Did not say I am Eisav. He said I am I.
Passuk Chaf-Hay: And he said, come close to me and I will eat from the food of my son so that my soul will bless you and he came and he ate, and he brought him wine and he drank. Passuk Chaf-Vav: And Yitzchok his father said to him, come close and kiss me, my son. Passuk Chaf-Zayin: And he came close and he kissed him and he smelled the smell of his garmets and he blessed him and he said, “see, my son’s smell is like the smell of the field that Hashem has blessed”
RASHI: there are few smells worse than goat skin smell – what smell is Yitzchok talking about?! Yitzchok smelled Gan Eden, the scent of paradise emanated from Yaakov. Why does Yitzchok phrase it to say it is the smell like the field – Gan Eden smells like “Sdei Tapuchim” – which most people translate to mean apple orchard, but the gemora says actually means an esrog orchard.
Passuk Chaf-Ches [begins the bracha] And Hashem should give you from the dew of heaven and from the fatness of the land and much grain and wine
Rashi: either Vayiten (why the Vav) – and he should keep giving you. He should give and give and give you blessings OR the Vav is Vav HaMechubar because it links to the previous passuk, where Yitzchok says, just as Hashem gave you this wonderful smell so too should He give you other wonderful things.
RASHI: Weird that Yitzchok uses the word Elokim in a blessing. Elokim is middas HaDin. This is like Shlomo who davened that non-Jews when they pray should get answered. Yaakov’s descendants have more of an understanding of spirituality and they have more faith. They realize if Hashem is withholding good from them , maybe it is because they don’t deserve it. They understand Hashem Hu Ha’Elokim. But other folks most times don’t get that and if they don’t get a response when they pray, often they leave behind their faith.
Ramban: from the dew of heaven and fatness of land – dew falls anyway, why is this such an amazing bracha – Ramban says this bracha is benefit from the all the dew of heaven and all the best of all the land –meaning from the whole world – that eventually Yaakov’s descendants will receive the blessings of living royally off the best of all the world (in the times of Moshiach).
Passuk ChafTes: Nations will serve you and nations will bow down to you – be stronger to your brothers and your mother’s sons will bow to you. Those who curse you are cursed and those who bless you are blessed.”
RASHI points out that the wordings of this passuk is similar to what Bilam said, but when Bilam says it, he flips it around and begins with the blessing and then talks about the curse. Rashi explains such is the life difference between a good person and a bad one. Tzadikim start with hardship and then end up with blessings. Rasha’im start with “life’s a party” and then end up with suffering. [That might be why Shlomo says, happy is the person who had a burden as a kid – that starting out with suffering is way better.]
Seforno struggles with this passuk – if Yitzchok really thought he was blessing Eisav, why would he want Eisav to be “stronger” than Yaakov?! If you notice, Yitzchok doesn’t give the blessing of having Eretz Yisroel here – that he knows is shayach only to Yaakov, Yosheiv Ohalim – that the limud Torah of Yaakov is what Eretz Yisroel is all about. So he never dreams of giving this to Eisav. But he is scared of Yaakov having to disturb his learning, so he blessed Eisav to be stronger – thinking Eisav will support Yaakov and Yaakov won’t have to work for a living (like Yisacher and Zevulun).
Passuk Lamed: And it was when Yitzchok finished blessing Yaakov and it was just as Yaakov left from in front of his father and Eisav his brother came from his trapping.
Rashbam: why do we have to know the exactness of the timing, that just as Yaakov left, Eisav came in – to show us the miracle which happened for Yaakov to make him successful – if he had spent one extra minute having to do any preparations or if Eisav would have had one minute less of preparations, the whole thing would have been stopped before Yaakov got the Bracha. The exactness of the timing shows Siyata D’Shmaya to ensure the Bracha was given before Eisav returned.
Passuk Lamed Alef: He also made a delicious food and brought it to his father and he said to his father “my father should get up and eat from the trapping of his son so your soul should bless me.”
Contrast to this how Yaakov had spoken to his father. If you look back, Yaakov had started by announcing he was coming into the room not to startle his father (see passuk yud zayin, where Yaakov just says “my father” as he walks into the room). Eisav has no such finesse. He barges in and begins right away with his own needs. Get up. Eat. So you can bless me. Direct. Not respectful. (see Passuk Yud Tes where Yaakov says “nah.Please get up” and compare it to Eisav – who says “get up”)
Passuk Lamed-Bais: And Yitzchok his father said to him, who are you and he said I am your son, your first born Eisav
Now, first thing you should note, is Yitzchok did not know Eisav sold the Bechora, but Eisav knew. So by claiming the Bechorah here, he is lying, just as Yaakov was not lying when he said he was the Bechor. Eisav should be the one held accountable for the lying. He could have said I am your son Eisav, but as soon as he claims the Bechorah knowing he sold it, he was lying.
Passuk Lamed-Gimmel: And Yitzchok trembled a great trembling very much and he said who and where is he who trapped the animal and brought it to me and I ate all of it before you came and I blessed him and also he shall be blessed.
Rashi: quoting the Midrash – Yitzchok saw Gehinnom opening under Eisav. This is the first time he knows Eisav is truly wicked and will not do Teshuva
Rashi: I ate all of it?! Is Yitzchok that kinda person to gobble it all down? He is saying something else – he is saying that the food was like the manna – he ate “all” tastes in that one food.
Rashi: also he should be blessed – Yitzchok is being clear that no matter what, even if Eisav claims the brachos were gotten by trickery, it is right that Yaakov has the bracha and it is with Yitzchok’s full knowledge at this point.
Seforno – why does it seem that Yitzchok is now saying Amen to the Bracha by saying “also he shall be blessed” – there is a Klal (which we find by Rabbi Chanina) that Tzadikim can tell as they daven and give Brachos if that Bracha will come true. If the words flow, they know the Bracha is pleasing to Hashem and will get a response. So Yitzchok here was saying that the way the Bracha flowed out of his lips onto Yaakov, he knows that “he shall be blessed” that the Bracha was a true one that will come true.
Passuk Lamed-Daled: When Eisav heard the words of his father and he cried a very great and bitter cry and he said to his father, ‘Bless me, also me, my father.’
Challenge: anyone know where else in the Torah it says that someone cried a cry that was “Gedolah U’Mara” the same language used in this Passuk? It is in Megillas Esther, Perek Daled, Passuk Alef – when Mordechai hear Haman’s decree that all Jews be killed he went into the city and cried a very great and bitter call to Teshuva. What is the connection between these two Pesukim – that Eisav’s grief at not being given the Gashmius Brachos is considered a legitimate grief if we Jews are not keeping Torah (remember Hakol Kal Yaakov- – when Torah learning is weak, then Hayadayim Yedei Esiav, then Eisav gets power over us). So when Mordechai heard Haman was being successful in his plans to wipe out the Jews, Mordechai knew Eisav’s descendant was being given power because of this long-ago cry of Eisav AND because the Jews were messing up in that generation – so he cried out, “Jews, let’s do Teshuva”. It worked. The cry of Eisav is only legitimately held against us when we mess up as Torah adherents.
Passuk Lamed-Hay: And he said, your brother came with clever cunning and took your Bracha
(Rashi knows Mirma here means with cleverness because Onkelos translated Mirma here as Chachma). What Bracha is the one being referred to as “your” bracha – Seforno – the Bracha for Gashmiyus.
Passuk Lamed-Vav: And he said, isn’t that why his name is called Yaakov, because he has ambushed me twice, he took my first-born status and behold now he took my blessing and he said, did you not set aside for me a blessing?
RASHI: explains how this Passuk played out. Once Eisav said Yaakov tripped him up twice, Yitzchok said, what did Yaakov do to you. So then Eisav explained how Yaakov had bought the rights of the first-born, at which point Yitzchok realized the Bracha had gone exactly where it should have gone – Yaakov deserved the blessing because he had bought the Bechora
SEFORNO: Eisav realized even if he was supposed to get the huger Bracha, there would have been some Bracha given to Yaakov, so he now asks for that “set aside” Bracha.
Passuk Lamed-Zayin: And Yitzchok answered and he said to Eisav, see I have made him master over you and I have given him all his brethren as slaves, grain and wine I have placed for him and for you from where, what, can I do my son.
RASHI: why does Yitzchok start with telling Eisav that part of Yaakov’s Bracha was that he be master – because he is trying to explain a Bracha would not help Eisav because a slave and all he owns belongs to the master. So even if Eisav gets a Bracha, that Bracha just means more Bracha for Yaakov.
There is a famous story in the times of the Gemorah about Ovaid the slave (Rabbi Marcus Lehman wrote it in novel form in a book called Itamar). There was a guy named Itamar from a wealthy family who was put into slavery. The father was old and he had one slave named Ovaid. The father was dying and did not know what to do about his wealth – how to make sure Ovaid did not destroy all before the son got back home. So he got advice from the Tannaim and was told to let Ovaid inherit everything with the stipulation that when his son Itamar came home he would be given the choice of owning any one thing his father had owned. Itamar came home and did not know what his father meant, but after meeting with the Tannaim, he knew what he had to do. He told Ovaid he was going to go along with the will and choose one thing. The one thing he chose to “own” was Ovaid, which meant that all his father’s possessions came back into his power.
Passuk Lamed-Ches: And Eisav said to his father, only one bracha is there to you my father, bless me, also me, my father and he lifted his voice and cried. Passuk Lamed-Tes: And Yitzchok his father answered and he said to him, Behold from the fat of the land will be your dwelling and from the dews of heavens above
Rabbeinu Bachya: Notice there is no mention of Hashem in Eisav’s Bracha (by Yaakov it says, Hashem should give you and here it says, you should have). Here we learn that Eisav’s fate is stuck within laws of nature, while Yaakov’s descendants are treated beyond nature. Miracles can happen for us. The other thing we learn from this is that Eisav’s bracha is limited to this world. He will not merit the next world and not the Yemos HaMashiach. He is bound to only physical pleasure (for that is what he devotes himself to and worships) which is why there is no mention of Hashem in his Bracha.
Passuk Mem: and by your sword will you live and your brother you will serve and it will be when you Tarid and you will throw off his yoke from on your neck
RASHI: Tarid means to be pained – that Eisav will be legitimately allowed his “pain” of not having the brachos when Yaakov’s children do not keep the Torah and are not entitled to the Bracha and then Eisav can rise
RAMBAN: by your sword shall you live, doesn’t mean you will have to be supported through murder, but means you will survive every battle, but Yitzchok follows that will “your brother you will serve” to let Eisav know clearly that he will not succeed in winning one battle – the one against his brother.
Passuk Mem-Alef: And Eisav hated Yaakov because of the Bracha that his father blessed him and Eisav said “B’leebo” in his heart, the days of my father’s mourning are coming close and I will kill Yaakov my brother.
Rabbeinu Bachya: someone who thinks “Bleebo” is a Rasha – because what it means is that he is governed by his emotions—whatever his heart says, that is the way he plans his life. However, a Tzaddik rules his emotions and when they say something to themselves the wording is “El leebo” or “Al Leeba” – they talk to their hearts and tell their hearts to curb themselves. They reason things out and don’t act emotionally, but have their emotions follow what is right. Eisav was a Rasha and said “in his heart” – I hate, therefore I’ll act upon these emotions that are in my heart. We must always remember we must rule our emotions and not let our emotions rule us.