Noahide Seven Commandments Torah classes
© 2016 by Rabbi Zvi Aviner
Torah Class JUSTICE-4/Blessing Jacob on Condition
1: Blessing in ELKM’s Name
As if to take the story to a climax of INJUSTICE, the Torah tell the story of Jacob, presenting himself as an imposter to his father. Here the very person seeking the truth uses the ultimate lie of identity theft!
You know the story. In short, Rebecca hears that Isaac wishes to bless Esau, so she orders Jacob to disguise as Esau and cheat his father. Jacob expresses doubt on the legitimacy of the move, but his mother insists: “Your curse is on me,” she tells Jacob.
Now let’s focus on the Blessing that Jacob receives from his blind father:
Blessing to Jacob:
“Let ELKM give you the dew of the Heavens and the fatness of the earth
And plenty of corn and wine.
Let peoples serve you and nations bow down to you
Be lord over your brothers and let your mother’s sons bow down to you
Cursed be those who curse you and blessed be those who bless you”
It is enormous blessing, full of material achievements as well as spiritual. Although Isaac id not know for sure the identity of the person whom he blessed, he felt that he was worthy of it.
Then, in one of the most moving moments in the Torah Esau enters the room as Jacob exits it. He says to his father:“Let my father get up and eat from his son’s game,”expecting to receive the coveted Abraham’s Blessing.
But his startled father said in alarm; “Who are you?”
Esau said: “I am your son, your firstborn Esau.”
The shaken Isaac says: “Who then was the person that gave me his game to eat, and I ate before you came, and I blessed him, and he will be blessed by YHVH!”
Esau burst in tears. He “felt bitter and cried exceedingly.” In sincere pains he cried to his father: “Would you bless me too, my father?”
This was not the crook Esau. This was a hurting son, who felt cheated by his brother. The Angles wept with him (Midrash.).
Isaac blessing to Esau
Isaac felt for his son Esau. He blessed him too, saying:
“And he said to him: behold, thy dwelling shall be.
Of the fatness of the earth and of the dew of the Heavens from above
And by the sword shall you live and you shall serve your brother
And it shall come to pass when you shall have the dominion…”
Now what is the difference between the blessings?
Both received material and spiritual blessings.
But there was one, surprising difference:
While the Blessing to Jacob was given in ELKM’s Name,
Esau’s Blessing was given with mentioning of neither ELKM nor YHVH.
The rabbis explained (Rashi):
Jacob received his Blessing ON CONDITION, under ELKM’s JUDGMENT.
Esau, in contrast, received his Blessing UNCONDITIONLLY.
A present to a teenager
To put things in perspectives, let’s note that we give our children presents unconditionally. We, the parents, would shower on our children unlimited love, without expecting anything in return.
But that changes when we deal with our teenager son or daughter. We would give him a car, but with some expectations and conditions.
Jacob blessing is superior, but it comes with condition.
Esau blessing is great enough to satisfy him, and is given without condition.
This is why the Jewish people are judged in history more than other peoples.
The blessing given to Israel is great, but it comes only on condition.
Had Esau been given the blessings as intended, under ELKM’s name and on condition, Esau would have most likely failed.
In that sense, Rebecca did him a great favor by diverting the Blessing of Abraham to Jacob rather than to Esau.
So far in the story Jacob managed to bring his truth to the open.
Even his father recognized him as the real firstborn.
But his truth came with a terrible price: Peace.
His hurting brother swore to kill him the moment their father would pass away.
Rebecca, with her sharp eyes, advised Jacob to flee to her brother Laban in Haran.
To increase the complexity of the story, in Jacob’s absence Esau’s took over the care of his elderly parents.
The rabbis said that “no person has ever cared for his parents so much as Esau.”
So could you, the reader, weigh the merits and the faults of one twin against the other?
Could you say for sure who was wicked and who ws righteous?
Moreover, the way that Jacob sought to bring out his truth by direct confrontation, had brought him only WAR. He had to run a way for his life, never seeing his parents alive again.
Is there another, better way to get JUSTICE, but with PEACE? .
END OF JUSTICE CLASS 4