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והיה כאשר תריד ופרקת עולו מעל צוארך

Yet it shall be that when you are aggrieved, you may cast off his yoke from your neck. (27:40)

The Chozeh, zl, m’Lublin observes (in a homiletic interpretation of this pasuk) that in some instances, one must close his Gemorah and engage in commerce or whatever endeavor is necessary in order for him to earn a livelihood. No one said it was going to be easy, but he should not be happy that he must do this. He would much rather continue learning, but he has to put bread on the table. If, however, his attitude is one of, “Great! I got out of learning. I can finally leave the bais hamedrash,” if it is one of v’hayah (the…

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וישא עשו קולו ויבך

And Eisav lifted up his voice and wept. (27:38)

The Sefarim HaKedoshim teach that the few drops of tears which Eisav emitted have been the source of much trouble for our people throughout the millennia. In Eisav’s mind, Yaakov Avinu was the villain who stole his rightful blessings. He was so overwrought with pain at this perceived loss that he expressed emotion. Eisav was not an emotional person. He was a hardened criminal, but even criminals have feelings. These tears have stood against us as a prosecuting agent, condemning us and seeking reparation. While no one questions the veracity of the above statement, it still begs elucidation. We have…

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ויחרד יצחק חרדה גדולה עד מאד

Then Yitzchak trembled in very great perplexity. (27:33)

Yitzchak Avinu possessed the middah, attribute, of gevurah, strength. He feared nothing, because his belief in Hashem was so resolute that he understood that one has nothing to fear if he is with Hashem. The Almighty either protects the individual or He does not; if He does not protect him, fear is futile. Yitzchak had extraordinary control of his emotions. This was evident throughout the Akeidah, Binding (of Yitzchak), when he prepared to become an olah, sacrifice, for Hashem. He never questioned his father, Avraham Avinu, not even when he looked up at him and saw him poised with the…

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ויאמר לאביו יקם אבי ויאכל מציד בנו בעבר תברכני נפשך

He said to his father, “Let my father rise and eat of his son’s game, so that your soul will bless me. (27:31)

The commentators (Midrash Tanchuma) note the stark disparity between the manner in which Yaakov Avinu addressed his father and the way that Eisav spoke to him. Yaakov spoke to his father with the words, Kum na shvah v’achlah mitzeidi; “Rise up, please, sit and eat of my game” (Bereishis 27:18). Eisav ha’rasha said, Yakum avi v’yochal mitzeid bno; “Let my father rise and eat of his son’s game” (ibid. 27:31). Yaakov said, “Please;” Eisav demanded, “Get up.” Yaakov spoke with humility. Eisav arrogantly commanded, insisting that his father eat. We are well aware that the mitzvah of Kibud av, honoring…

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על כן קרא שמו אדם

He, therefore, called his name Edom. (25:30)

Certainly the name Edom/Eisav evokes question. Referring to a bowl of red bean soup as “red” is not cause for one to be named “Red,” unless this reference to red soup defines the person. Rashbam says that Eisav had a ruddy complexion, and he sold his birthright for a bowl of red soup. That is a pretty contemptuous act. Hence, Edom/Red is a reference, not so much to color, but to contempt, which describes Eisav quite well. Sforno views the red color of the soup as a description of Eisav’s values and outlook on life. He was so consumed with…

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ויהי עשו איש יודע ציד איש שדה ויעקב איש תם יושב אהלים

And Eisav became one who knows trapping, a man of the field; but Yaakov was a wholesome man, abiding in tents. (25:27)

The Torah’s characterization of the differences between Yaakov Avinu and Eisav ha’rasha seems minor in contrast to the actual stark differences between the two. Yaakov was holy, righteous, the pillar of Torah and truth, the third leg of the Heavenly chariot. Eisav was the epitome of evil, the archenemy of our people. Yet, the Torah chose to underscore the fact that Eisav was a man of the field, yoshev batel, did nothing all day, wasted his time. Yaakov, however, was a wholesome man who spent his day in spiritual ascendance, studying Torah. Apparently, herein lay the difference between the two….

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ויתרוצצו הבנים בקרבה

The children agitated within her. (25:22)

The Maharal explains that the struggle between Eisav and Yaakov in their embryonic stage was not influenced by their personal proclivities to good and evil, since these inclinations had not manifested prior to their births. Yaakov Avinu and Eisav represented cosmic forces in Creation, Heavenly ordained forces that transcended the normal course of personal development, a phenomenon that predated and existed even before their births. Chazal (Midrash Rabbah 63:6) teach that Eisav hated Yaakov while they were still in the womb. The Brisker Rav, zl, derives from Chazal that Eisav’s hatred for Yaakov is non-dependent on any specific circumstance, incident…

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ויעתר יצחק לד' לנכח אשתו כי עקרה היא

Yitzchak entreated Hashem opposite his wife, because she was barren. (25:21)

We are accustomed to mentioning the Avos and Imahos, Patriarchs and Matriarchs, in one breath, as if they were all the same. When we stop to think, we recognize that there was one area in which they were not all the same. It appears at first glance that Avraham Avinu was not an akar, sterile man, since he fathered Yishmael. This is questionable from the pasuk in Bereishis 15:2, “What can You give me, seeing that I go childless?” Later in 16:5, however, Sarah Imeinu says to Avraham, “The outrage against me is due to you!” Rashi explains that Sarah…

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ויעתר לו ד'

Hashem allowed Himself to be entreated by him. (25:21)

Hashem “allowed” Himself: Was it so difficult to listen to Yitzchak Avinu’s pleas? We pray and pray, and, unbeknownst to us, what we ask for might not be good for us – or, it might adversely affect someone else, someone very dear to us. Horav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, zl, explains that this is what happened concerning Yitzchak Avinu’s prayer. Avraham Avinu lived to be 175 years old – five years short of Yitzchak’s lifespan. Why did Avraham live five years fewer than Yitzchak? Rashi explains that Hashem spared him the pain of watching his grandson, Eisav, go off the derech,…

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יעקב איש תם ישב אהלים

But Yaakov was a wholesome man, abiding in tents. (25:27)

Rashi explains that a tam is wholesome, a person who is not adept at deceiving. Thus, Yaakov Avinu is called a tam, because he did not deceive. Deception went against his grain. We find, however, in the following parshah, when Yaakov meets Rachel Imeinu, Va’yaged Yaakov l’Rachel ki achi avihah hu, “And Yaakov told Rachel that he was her father’s brother” (Bereishis 29:12). Rashi clarifies this statement, quoting the Midrash, “If he (Eisav) comes for deceit, I, too, am his brother in deceit; but, if he is a decent person, I am also the son of Rivkah, his decent sister.”…

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