By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman, Dean, Cheder Chabad of Monsey
Our Torah portion this week Toldot (Bereishis [Genesis] 25:19-28:9) recounts the birth of the twins Yaacov (Jacob) and Eisav (Esau). Growing up, the two boys developed their contrasting lifestyles - Jacob of piety and scholarship, as compared to Esau, of violence and corruption. Towards the end of the portion, the Torah tells of Jacob receiving the blessings from his father Isaac.
Isaac asked Esau to prepare a dinner of venison for him, after which he would bless his son. On Rebecca's advice, Jacob waited till Esau had left the house to go hunting for his father’s meal. Rebecca then cooked up a meal of goat meat – to taste like the venison that Esau was sure to bring – and then sheared the goats' skins so Jacob could wrap them around his arms to simulate hairiness, and even asked Jacob to don his brother's clothes
Isaac was blind, so when Jacob finally managed to creep into the room he had to imitate his brother's tone of voice and disposition, and then he prevaricated and stretched the truth a bit so that his aging father would not catch on.
Even after successfully receiving the blessings, for decades to come, he lived in fear of Esau's revenge.
Isn’t it a bit curious why Rebecca and Jacob went through all that fuss and bother to surreptitiously engineer that Isaac's blessings go to Jacob and not his older brother Esau? Why didn't he and his mother just march openly into Isaac's room, bring proof of Esau's wickedness and convince Isaac that Jacob was the more worthy candidate in the first place?
When I visit people in the hospital, I often hear variations on a common theme: "Rabbi, I'm praying, but I don't really know if I deserve a miracle, after all, I'm not very religious…" Others are even less sanguine; they just assume that their lack of Jewish knowledge or observance to date precludes them from ever receiving G‑d's favor.
Perhaps it was to dispel this attitude that Rebecca forced Jacob to go through the whole charade. Sure, he could have walked identifiably into his father's study, dressed all in white, exuding nobility and religiosity, and claimed his rightful blessings. But the unmistakable message for the future would be that only the Jacobs among us deserve to be blessed.
But that's not good enough for a true Yiddishe mama (Jewish mother). Rebecca wanted to ensure merit for all Jews, for all generations. By deliberately going down-market and dressing Jacob in Esau's clothing, she demonstrated that every one of us, even those who currently look and act like Esau, are equally deserving of our Father's blessings.
(Excerpts from Chabad.org - from Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum)
May you have an meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!